Winning on Both Counts: How Colombian Students Won by Rooting Out Violence from Student Protest

Focus, and time for everything

Written by Gina Spigarelli

691Last pack smokedSan José de Apartadó, Colombia – I quit smoking on November 7. I am still in a state of permanent nic-fit, but doing better. My body has been pretty crazy all month, so confused about why it is doing this to itself. I had a headache for ten straight days. In the 103,842,476 degree heat I put on a sweatshirt with the cold sweats. I fall asleep kicking at night and wake up at 2AM wanting to smoke. I chew gum like a rabid squirrel chews an acorn. People keep telling me I “didn’t look well” and for the first couple days I kept thinking I was going to vomit. I shake so much that people now impersonate me unable to drink a glass of water and laugh amongst themselves. But I am doing it. And I will make it. Addiction is a strange thing. The mind never ceases to amaze. There is now a sign on my wall that reads: Dear Gina, you no longer smoke, so find something else to do.
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Winning on Both Counts: How Colombian Students Won by Rooting Out Violence from Student Protest

By Susana Pimiento

Winning on Both Counts: How Colombian Students won by Rooting Out Violence from Student Protest
On October 7, as the Occupy Wall Street movement was starting to get media attention in the United States, Colombian students held a big mobilization, inaugurating a series of massive nationwide protests and events. Despite a government smear campaign that was echoed by the media and the actions of a few violent provocateurs, the students’ protests succeeded, offering a powerful lesson on the power of nonviolence to achieve social change.

The protests were motivated by a bill introduced in Congress by President Juan Manuel Santos to reform the underfunded higher education system using a controversial market approach that relied on loans offered by the financial sector, with a close resemblance to the Chilean model that has also sparked massive protests. The students for months had been unsuccessfully voicing their opposition to the bill. So, soon after it was sent to Congress they declared a student strike, and classes at almost all public universities were suspended as protests continued in the succeeding weeks.
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