LATIN AMERICA REVIEW - CHILE: RESURGENCE OF UNIVERSITY STUDENT POLITICS

Created: 2/15/1985

OCR scan of the original document, errors are possible

Latin America Review (u)

5

The intensification of university siudcni poli'*al uctrviiies in fcconi monthserious blow to I'rcssdeni Pinochet's effort*aintain coniroK on academic life and prevent students from regaining ihe polilical influence ihcj had before3 coop The hki ugisificani doelopnieti wai ihe sssecpinj 4eninsl-lcfiisi online* in UadcMhe Unrretwy of Chile, ibebicm and moa imponaai unnienaiy. Thai ckciu>killful campaign byndermine ihe retime-imposed student organiralsm io revue ihe proscribed Federation of Chilean St-deniveei umvenity-.sdc .indent ehrctsom TimiUr ferment at other uniser.iiics demonstrate ihe slaying pusser of MMk political panic* as ihe Christian Dcnwcralt. the Socialists. ;ind :hehich historicallydominated ihe student movement. Conversely, ihese developments underscore ilie failure of the regime'* "cku ming" operation, in universities and ihe wink appeal of ihe far-right group, thai hudcd .in viuilem assiiciatmns and sustained by gnvcrmiiciil aid since liteJfJJJJJBfl

from mid-IMJ ihrough tan Ociober. the regime vevm.nglv reli obliged iopeededup iraasilioncmocrjirt rok. Theerjird heightened political activity on university

rvsdeiwly became il drfajor truncatealhoniy. The regswie ssjs wughl .hori tn the uneasily of ihe sludent oprwuiWui elf-is during ihe second halfhe riMiu* mUniversiti of Chileeriesrnmeni couniermeasurcs there and ai uihcr iMitaiiom Pinochet publicly eluraeicrired uudem aeiivisu ai inesponsiblc and pointed in ihe centrist-tefliM victory ji ihe University of Chilentribuimg to his decisionelay ibe tranwtHin l'iiri< and in impose the Mute of siege on fi November i

Opposition student kutkrs have reacted sharply to the HIH of weft and ihe renewed restrictions on niilllh'iil activism on campuses. Although jnuregimc fuUtfalations in rceent months an generally ellecitf.il. Mudcnts were in the forefront and claihed -ilh Kcurily forces on several occasions. During the current vacation period that beganccember.

eni leader,ateswnl. denouncing regime aenon* agairmThe. bare called for academic liberahiaiion. <Jr.rr.iwl of regime-dewgaatcd mlnai) nxton. and Mi pari <tpa lion in unnxrmy 1

Whencnon period end* in mid-March, .ludeni agliaiion probably "ill increasepan of the polilical oppo.ilion'1 camp-en agamti the naic of iiegc andchieve an aeceleruvJ irawition to democralk' rule i* si)

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The Mtiialiroiion of the unfienilj .ludeni moiemcnt i. rem.irk.ible. cm-iikring the sweeping purge.

i-limnl mil "lien ik military came In rumcr inand the regime'* actions to maintain tight contiol over all umvcnities. Actofdingcveral scholarly articles, governmeni mcawrei included -hcJcale diunnxal. of leftist professorskbrisiun Democrais and other ncasconform.sl. rcdactiorts by0 IS percentcrsosinel andI perccatppointment of im.liiarv oUsters as recwr. ia all public aad private italhotWi innmlo and the nriual eliminatioo ofseance a. an academe discipline and .harpcunailmeni ofer Mcial sciences. The purges of faculty, students, and other.ere pervasive ai institution- the militarv devmed especially subversive, such as the University of

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pari of an apparent plan to modify ihi classof university student bodies, the regime decreed sharp mil ioneductions in student financialind ail upgrading of aptitude let *eores required for univt-rsity admission Because of currk'ulum changes ostensibly geared to amkipatcd job marketeeh8olu--kal and business field* prcdoniinatod among opening* for prospective Mudcnu. and Hie humanities nnd social sciences were neglected. The clTcci was to reduce sharply access to higher education for the lower-middle classes and drop enrollment*f.OOO)J.I

. the regime insisted on dcruliiwmng student movements nnd discouraging student self-government. It abolKlicd existing student nnd teacher organWanons and gradually established essentially powvrfcss siudent centers in most universities, whose tinkers it appointed whilesome elected delegates.he regime fostered the crvulionew stuiknt federation :tt the University of Chile and placed at it* helm student members of the grcmialistroup comprised preilimiiiiiiiiily ofay Cm hulks, nml strong lumonalms who held many key government positions. The regime's political strategists evidently hoped that these student associations Mould form the nucleus for an enduring rightist politkal party to which the military eventually Could kind user power. Although gremialists at the University of Chile and elsewhere attracted minimal student support, their control over student associations was guaranteed by pern "In- indirect elections. |

eorganization of the university systemhe provincial branches of Ihe University of Chile became separate institution* and several new unrvcrtiiicscreated in more remotehe underpins purpose,ews cuntors andia. to disperse the concent ration of student' away from major urban centers and to eMatili>hproregimc universities I

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Eleciions Ian Ociober foi ihe reconstituted Federation of Chileanfirst Tree Uniicrsiiy of Chile election' In IIa largeombined slate representing the Christian Democratic Party urd the Communist-led Popular Democratic Movement received Mi percent of tbe vole and gained full control of the Federation About half of the coalition's vote went so the Chrttiranshsne lor* votcgctlcr became Ihehe Commwisisu received abowi aof the slate'sand elccicd the Federal ionnee oroide at Rightist students split into wveral groups Mrxt cismidcrcd acwciatsotiiheatMlH) becauw of ibe litter's iQcniilk.iiion with the regime (JJ

combined vote total of tKe right -a> percent, and because the grcmialists received only ubmii fi percent iliey are widely viewed as likelyisappear from the University of Chile's polilical map |

frfic elections as havingimpact, largely because for theubstantial number of Chileansio vole for candidates representingpolitical parties ami under conditionsnol riggedwith >cvcral

local commentator! that the results constitute ihe best mugh indicator to date of the relative appeal of the various polilical nil riles, pj

The reaction of the authorities was speedy

university's military rector questioncd ihe right of ihe new Federation to represent students and charged lhat portions of il* statutes weree said ihe University administration would not ollicially

recognize the Toleration, grant il oflicv space or funds, or petinii it* representative* to have any say in 'University decisionmaking. The rector's statement Was quickly endorsed by the.Minis! who threatened reprisals ijL^udcsttjaniigovcrnmcni protests..In annuyncirY) siegeovember. Pi elections demonstrated ihe students'lack or "political maturity" and how some groups had taken advantage "irresponsibly" of ihe mote open polilical activity the government had permitted.

University and educational olltcials had lendedthe growth of student polilicalonly

the right lost the elections and the new Federation leaders pledged to increase attacks on the government and to seek llsc early ousicr of the rector. The authorities probably wcie also provoked by the Federation president's statements that he considered it legitimate for students nisei's' university buildings or campuses to dramatize ihcir proic.i* and thai5 he would seek toational confederation ofeans to increase pressure for an early return lo civilian government.

Effect on ihe Christianhe Federation elections also worsened internal liiliciciK'cs In the t'lirisiitm IMimcratie I'any.

(Hamilton said be feared this development would provide the regime with additional

PjMudir.uc ConlervativcrSrTylCuaers^S the Christian Democratic student group to disavow the alliance with tiic far left in the contest. The party's left wing, on the other hand, favored the alliance, evidently tearing that withouteftist Coalition would defeat the Christian Democraiie student ticket. Christian Democratic President Gabriel VaWcs. who argued for the alliance and ultimately prevailed, was opposed on this issue bv his rival for Ihe parly chairmanship. Juan Hamilton, f

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to argue that ihc Christian Democrats jrc unreliable because thc> niUncwr forgo alliancesIhc Communist* ji the national level. |

Despite failure by the moderatesrevail onivertiiy of Chile elections Question, they provokeduror

ally.

nude ni mem benfar lefi in subsequent univcrsiiy stutlcnte1(rie

issue ti not dead. Vnldc* and hi* sving still believe that the Communistsignificant political force and oppose the regime's demands that the Communists and other far leftist political panics be formally proscribed before the transition process will be permitted to advance. |

the continuing acrimony over this issueactor in the party's decision to delay internal election.

Meanwhile, elections for President of the Christian Democratic Youth Movement held in mid-Decemberie vote. Thestrong critic of alliances withwas cipectcd to .win reelection easilye dispute arete. His opponent belongs to the party'sfKfi wjng and itssociated with Vjldcs. TIk'liefele underscoresontinuing divisiveness among Gpiist'ianegarding alliances in'univcftitralcctionf This situationlikely io be aggravated once ihc new academic jear begins in March'* Ad student leader* agitate for elections throughout the university system.

The authorities adopted similar measures to thwari opposition victories in student elections scheduled at other institutions. Included were an order onovember ending the academic year early at the University of Conception, the cancellation of student elections at the Catholic University of Valparaiso, und the refusal of oliicialsampus in Osorno to rccogniie student elections wonhristian Dcmoctilk-headed slate over one led by the Communists. Student elections held in several other universities before Ihc slate of siege prohibitions were implemented resulted in victories by cither Communist-led tickets or those headed by the Christian Democrats

Oppositionroups reacted to the restrictive measures by calling short protest strikes or class stoppages at several universities, issuing demands for replacement of military rectors, andew hit-and-run provocations against the police ncur university campuses. Most of these activities fir/led. '. however, and campuses quieted down with the onset of the summer vacations in December. Nevertheless, several groups in Santiagoue public fund drive to linancc what had "tee volunteer service by universityut was now prohibited by the gover1 state oftiegc. In January andocal radio reports, police arrested'several hundred students engaged in this activity in small towns arid threatened further action if Ihc student Federation of the University of Chile did not suspend its program.

ia Other I'ahrreitta

Elections ai the University of Chile to try toitAt the

linA'erTttTTnljntiJBO. probably ihc country's second most important universityrcmiilistlebiscite in September over whether to permit direct student dec lions received overwhelming approval.esult, electionsew directorate for the Federation were scheduled forhe contest was shaping up racehristian Democrat-leftist eoalnionentrist-rightist group led by thenovember, however, the military governor ol*Santiago banned iheiting stale of siege priit ions, r

Outlook

The coming academic year probably oil! be more agitated than any ia recent memory, leading to growing polarization between opposition nudeni group) and the aatboritiri Waca university classes resume ncu month, student opposition groups will try to cipaad oa tbor already aporec-abk gams Their first priority probaNy will be to renew pressure on university administrators io permit direct student elections in thosewhere hardline rectors have prevented balloting Two places where thu tactic probaMyr will be tried urc at the capital's third university, the University of Santiago, and at the

University ofTight control continue*e nutini.iincd at each institution In addition, iiudcni groups ai (he Catholic University of Santiago and elsewhere will press for an early scheduling of postponed elections, dop-tc the authorities* reliance on ihe prohibitions of the slate of siege. The new president of the Federation at the University of Chile probably will take Ihe lead inational Confederation of students,empting to tie this campaign to the United Nations'it* as the worldwide Year of Youth. HJ

Opposition student groups also probably will continue pressing for libera lira lion of university life. Their demands are likely to include replacement of military rectors by civilians chosen by the respective academic communities, increases in student financial aid and softening of admission requirements,eturn to the pre-ractice of granting student repreien taoice in university alTalrs. A. theme likely to permeate the revived student activism will be the need lo return universities to center stage in the study and debate on major national issues, with particular emphasis on how to persuade the rcginse to speed up the returnivilian govern me

The regime's reactions to most, if not all. of thii activity will almost certainly be negative, involving new repressive measures to forestall opposition gains through elections nr demandstiim. In fact, as lung as the state of siege remains in cfl'cci, there is little chance that the regime will tolerate renewed student activism, such as participation in amircgimc protests Or efforts of student groups loole in discussion of the transition process. Moreover, the outcome of the Univcrsiiy of Chile student elections has reconfirmed Pinochet's suspicions regarding the Christian Democrats. If nothing else, this factor probably will provide aa additional preten to delay the transition dialogue.

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