|Riot police detain a protestor on Central|
University's campus in Santiago on Tuesday
October 18, 2011.
Chilean students and teachers have been absenting themselves from classes and holding protest rallies to demand free education for the past five months. Since the launch of the protests, more than 1,500 people have been arrested. Officials say some 350 have been charged and a dozen others placed in detention. The demonstrations, however, are expected to grow and new ones are scheduled to be held within the coming 24 hours as some 70 other organizations, including Chile's main trade union Workers' United Center (CUT), have joined the student movement. Chile's education system was established during the 1973-1990 military rule of former dictator General Augusto Pinochet. In line with the system, only about 40 percent of school and university students qualify for free education based on their parents' income. The growing Chilean protests represent the country's largest mass movement since democracy was reestablished in the South American state in 1991.