Students and Teachers marching last Week University and school students in Chile are continuing their fight to overturn years of neo-liberal education policies For the past two months, many high schools have been occupied by school students, teachers have taken part in strikes and mass demonstrations have been taking place. Now the struggles are escalating as students have for example seized a TV station and insisted that it air their demands. According to the UK Guardian newspaper, the right wing government of millionaire businessman Sebastian Pinera is the most unpopular since the dictator Pinochet, who came to power in a brutal coup and who offered the Chilean state as a test bed for neo-liberal economic and  education policies in the 1970s. Since that time, Chilean students and teachers have been faced with the whole range of neo-liberal policies - for example the municipalisation of school funding leading to mass privatisation, school vouchers and massive cuts in education budgets. In the recent period there has been stiff resistance to these policies - both from teachers' unions, from university students and also signifiantly from school students.  All sorts of tactics have been tried including students refusing to answer the register in class in an effort to affect school funding, school occupations, teacher strikes and even such novel ideas as a mass kiss-in. This resistance is meeting with increasing repression from the state authorities. The latest demonstrations on Thursday were combined with a teachers' strike with 874  arrested  according to official figures - and some protesters gassed and pulled off buses by security forces. However as the demonstrations increase in ferocity and size, public support is increasingly on the side of the students with one poll showing 80% of the population supporting their demands. In Santiago people have banged pots and pans in support of the protests - a powerful symbol of popular support in South America. The protests are being dubbed the Chilean Winter by journalists who liken the movement to the so-called Arab spring. The latest wave of protests has been precipitated in particular by savage spending cuts, despite the fact that Chile has one of the fastest growing economies in South America. The government has made some small concessions in the last 24 hours in an effort to placate the demonstrators such as lowering the interest rates on student loans but students say this response is totally inadequate - the leader of CONFECH the students' union has called for more mass protests on Tuesday. (To read reports of previous student and teacher actions in Chile, write Chile in the search engine on this site)