Thursday, September 9, 2010

the teachers' protest

My school's teachers suspended classes today so they could do a protest march to get the government to pay some bonuses it habitually promises and then refuses to pay. The Spanish vocabulary for this is a little baffling: this was a paro, literally "stoppage," in service of a marcha or protesta, but it's different from a huelga "strike". In conversation, the Chileans mix them pretty freely, but almost inevitably correct how I'm using them. Go figure. At any rate, this was just some of the schools in Valparaiso. There were probably 200-300 teachers there, marching from Plaza Victoria over to what appeared to be some kind of government labor/payroll office.

Classes stopped at 10 A.M., which meant I didn't have any, and I went downtown to watch and take some photos. Apparently last year's extended nationwide strikes were unusually aggressive (complete with water cannons), because this was extremely tame.

I walked alongside the marchers until they went into some narrow streets that I wouldn't have been able to escape from if trouble started; that's when I started staying in front of the cops who were walking in front of the march.

Lots of students came, and watched or marched. During the pre-march speeches, the girls were running up and hugging me and chatting, and asking me for money (I have a blanket policy of saying no, though I did offer them some candy popcorn). One kid, who I actually don't know, made a point of being very adult and saying "Hi, teacher, how are you?", and when I said was fine, proceeded to "Can you loan me a hundred pesos?". I smiled and said "Nope!", and his girlfriend gave an amused snort.

This is Camila, Franchesca, Mackarena, and Aranxa:

The march accumulated a pack of dogs by the end. This guy walked the whole route with a Pepsi bottle in his mouth, I assume so he could extract the little bit of Pepsi later.

Uploading to Flickr is kind of horked right now, so the full set of photos isn't up yet, and it might be a while.

I had fun, though, and the teachers appreciated that I showed up. And no water cannons!

1 comment:

  1. Your kids are adorable, as always (as are the Dogs of Valparaiso). I'm glad it was a tame protest/rally/whatever, so you didn't have to use your mad ninja skills to avoid trouble :-)