Teenager Killed During Chile Strike

Posted August 26th, 2011 at 5:05 pm (UTC-5)
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A Chilean teenager has died after being shot during massive protests pressing for education reform.

Authorities said Friday that 16-year-old Manuel Gutierrez was shot during a confrontation with police. Family members blamed police for firing the shot that killed Gutierrez, a charge authorities denied.

Meanwhile, President Sebastian Pinera called for peace and proposed a dialogue with students, teachers, and parents to negotiate an agreement.

The protests Wednesday and Thursday were part of a national strike, called by Chile's main labor union, CUT. The goal was to support students who for weeks have been protesting for education reform and an overhaul of educational funding. Strike organizers have also called for tax reform and constitutional change.

Union leaders estimate some 600,000 people across Chile participated in the 48-hour strike, although government estimates are lower.

Nearly 1,400 people were arrested and more than 200 people injured during the two days of at-times violent demonstrations, which saw stores looted, fires set, and rocks rocks thrown. Authorities say as many as 300 buses were damaged in the violence. Police responded to the demonstrations with water cannon and tear gas.

The last time Chileans held a two-day national strike was during the rule of General Augusto Pinochet, who held power from 1973 until 1990.