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Interviews with Chilean student leaders!!!

The Penguins Grow Up

            The “Pinguinos” of 2006 have grown up –they have demonstrated and negotiated before, and are wiser for the experience. They want more than budget tweaks and are pushing for a reorientation of Chile’s entire educational system. Former “Pinguinos”, now university students on the verge of graduating and are unwilling swallow a future mired in debt without even a squawk. The average Chilean university graduate will need to set aside up to 18% of their salary over the next 15 years, one of the highest payback rates in the world, according to the World Bank. Protests began in June of this year and continued through September, showing no signs of abating. To the contrary, the students are now spearheading a national movement encompassing labor, environmentalists and indignant citizens.

 ISLA’s press coverage of this movement took shape in September 2011 with panoply of articles from nearly all our sources.  Most allude to the leadership of one young woman: Camila Vallejo. She is described as  “charismatic” and “having the government on the run” by Jonathan Franklin of the Manchester Guardian, and as “the unlikely leader of the biggest demonstration to hit Chile since the end of the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet in 1990”, by the Wall Street Journal ( ). As Franklin points out, Camila is the first female leader of the FECH (Chilean Student Union) in its 105-year history. Nevertheless, she is one of two strong leaders. Vallejo received 771 votes, while Francisco Figueroa, a journalism student of the Autonomous Left, received 595, clearly an influence on the movement, although unmentioned in press coverage.

We invite you to learn more about these two strong leaders and have included a direct interview with each, allowing them to express analysis and vision in their own words.


ADITAL interviews Camila Vallejo.

Entrevista con Camila Vallejo:

Version en español:

Portuguese: Victor Martinez


Punto Final interviews Francisco Figueroa Cerda.

Entrevista con Francisco Figueroa, publicado en "Punto Final", edición Nº 742, 16 de septiembre, 2011

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