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Tens of thousands demand Chile education reform

Tens of thousands demand Chile education reform
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Tens of thousands of protesters in Chile have demonstrated in the capital Santiago demanding education reforms and more equality.

A small number started fires and threw rocks at police, who responded with tear gas and water cannon.

Police said more than 270 protesters were detained and 23 officers injured.

A traditional Latin American protest involving the banging of pots and pans – “un cacerolazo” – underlined rising anger over poverty.

Top of the list of demands is education which protesters say is the privilege of the few.

“I’m a grandmother and naturally I’m supporting my grandchildren because I want education to be good, to be free and because many children who are studying are deep in debt,” said Maria Teresa Contreras, who joined the protesters.

President Sebastian Pinera has become a focus for the protests. He took office only last year, but one poll suggested he is the least popular leader since Augusto Pinochet.

The education protests are hampering the president’s market reform programme aimed at making Chile a regional financial hub.