I went to a friend's place yesterday for a barbecue after class. He lives down in Nunoa, the province south of mine which is filled mostly with native Chileans. The neighborhood is good, but I find myself getting stared at with much greater frequency when I go down there. We spent most of the afternoon grilling, drinking beer, and alternating between my constipated Spanish and his constipated English. Thanks to our Spanish-English chats, I now have a much better grasp of what the riots are about down here. I knew they were about "Free education" and cheaper universities, but the specifics had always eluded me.
Basically, here there are 3 types of grade schools: public, private, and semi subvencionadas. The semi subvencionadas are private schools, to which the state government partially subsidizes the cost of the student's education. For every student, the school gets X amount of pesos a month (say 40,000). On top of this, there is also a partial cost to the students' family, potentially another 60,000 pesos. So the school is able to reduce the costs to the families, while also theoretically providing the education quality of a fully private school.
The problem is, these schools are private, and run by "duenos" (owners) who have little to no restrictions on how they spend the money received by the state. So, for every 100,000 that the school receives per student, they may only pay back in 70,000 of that money to the school, pocketing the leftover 30,000 themselves. This amount that goes into the owner's pocket is known here as the "lucro". Without any regulation on how the owners spend the money they receive, they are more and more incentivized to scrimp and cut corners wherever they can, as it directly translates to more money in their bank accounts. Apparently though, the quality of the semi subvencionada education is still generally better than the public schools, but mainly because the public school system here is not very good at all (another reason for the protests).
Next time you see a picture of the riots down here, try and read some of the graffiti in the background. I bet you'll see something that reads "No + Lucro".
Or, you may see something like this:
Also, I learned a little more about the legend of Maradona in Argentina. If you watched any of the 2010 World Cup, you may remember hearing his name, as he had recently become the head coach of the Argentinian national team. He's considered by many to be the greatest soccer player of all time. When Argentina won the 1986 World Cup, he was the team MVP (he scored 5 goals in the tournament).
Part of Maradona's legacy is that in the 1986 quarter-finals, he scored both goals in a 2-1 victory against England. This game meant a lot to both sides, as there was a LOT of tension between these two countries after the Falklands War in 1982. The brief history of the war is this: the Falklands are a string of islands just off the coast of Argentina, and their ownership was in dispute between Argentina and England. To settle matters, the British sent their army to the Falklands, and subsequently killed hundreds of Argentinians to end the dispute (they remained in British control). 4 years later, they met in an elimination round of the World Cup.
The most famous play from this game is Maradona's "mano de Dios" (the hand of God). Here's a clip of it:
Notice how the English players are screaming at the refs around 0:33 seconds? Well, if you take a closer look at the play...
Regardless, the goal counted, Maradona scored again later, and Argentina advanced, eventually winning the Cup. (4 commas in one sentence? Yes please.) But, much like the 1980 USA-USSR hockey game, the final victory wasn't nearly as important as one of its predecessors. England may have had a stronger army, but the Argentinians beat the English at the very game they invented.