SANTIAGO DE CHILE - Vice-Chairperson elect of the European Students' Union (ESU), Taina Moisander, visited the Chilean student movement 11 to 16 June to express ESU's solidarity with the Chilean students who are fighting hard for changes in higher education in their country.
After the meeting, Moisander said: "It is of utmost importance that we, as European students, support our colleagues at the other side of the ocean. Higher education should be accessible for everyone and all should have the right to stand up for this without being repressed by their government."
Moisander met with several student leaders and organisations among who Camila Vallejo Dowling, FECH (University of Chile), ACES (Secondary students), USACH (University of Santiago), the Federation of mapuche students and the Human Rights Institute of Chile. She discussed the ongoing problems of the Chilean students.
Students in Chile are trying to avoid the adoption of the Hinzpeter law and have been demonstrating against this several times in the past years. This law, which was orginally created during the Pinochet times, would give the government additional punishment measures against demonstrating students. According to an article by the Associated Press, The Hinzpeter Law would punish anyone found “violently” occupying schools, hospitals, highways or public spaces, or of promoting acts of “disorder” such as keeping commuters from reaching their jobs. Punishment for these offenses under the Hinzpeter Law is up to three years in prison, according to the article.
ESU has been following the uprise of the Chilean student movement since the beginning and has issued several statements to demonstrate their solidarity. At its Board Meeting in Bucharest in April, ESU declared to be 'shocked' that the Chilean students have faced threats, intimidation and violence during their fight for reforms in higher education. Allan Päll, Chairperson of ESU, said: “ESU believes in the rights of students to shape their future without being pressured, threatened or targeted with violence.” http://www.esu-online.org/news/article/6001/ESU-shocked-by-Chilean-student-repression/. In October 2011, Karina Ufert (incoming ESU Chairperson) and Päll also met with Camila Vallejo during her trip to raise awareness for the Chilean situation in Europe.