On 11 September 1973, Chilean dictator Augusto Pinoche came to power and during the 1970s, he privatized Chile’s education system. The central government gave money to some private schools, while the public schools remained grossly underfunded. This commercialization of education began a legacy of educational attainment disparity along socioeconomic class lines—the poor received poor quality education, received jobs that paid meager wages, and remained poor, while the wealthy received high quality education, went on to university, and obtained well-paying jobs that increased their wealth.
In April of 2006 Chilean high school students had many complaints against the government and the way it ran the public school system. Chief among their concerns included bus fares and university exam fees. Over the previous few years, there had been isolated protests throughout the city, but none had gathered very much momentum. In 2006, however, in the first major social movement since “Chileans overthrow Pinochet regime,” the students took the general public by surprise.
After Augosto Pinochet took power in 1973, Chile depended increasingly on its copper industry to fuel the country’s export-oriented economy. In the 1990s, the Chilean government allowed for the construction of privately owned mines. One such mine was Escondida, which became the world’s largest copper mine in terms of production. The mine was co-owned by four multinational companies, with BHP Billiton controlling the majority of its shares.