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

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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