Chilean Activist Burns $500 Million in Student Debt

Dan Staggs

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A Chilean student activist named Francisco Tapia has released a video online explaining that he has burned student debt records worth approximately $500 million. The paperwork was seized during a student occupation at Universidad del Mar earlier this month, making the action the most recent example of the wave of student protests sweeping Chile since calls for reform heated up in 2011. There was a brief calm following the election of President Michelle Bachelet on a platform of education reform, but youth are again in the streets after months without change. The Independent reports: In the five-minute video the artist and activist, translated by the Chilean news site Santiago Times, he passionately says: “You don’t have to pay another peso [of your student loan debt]. We have to lose our fear, our fear of being thought of as criminals because we’re poor. I am just like you, living a s**tty life, and I live it day by day—this is my act of love for you.” He confessed he destroyed the papers without the knowledge of the students during a takeover at the university demanding free higher education.One possible outcome is that the university will sue individual students in an attempt to extract payments related to the destroyed records.

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Dan Staggs is an intern at In These Times.
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