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Chilean Student Hunger Strikers Hold President Piñera Accountable | The Nation

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Chilean Student Hunger Strikers Hold President Piñera Accountable

Gloria Negrete, 19, weighed 135 lbs when she began her hunger strike thirty five days ago in Buin, a neighborhood just outside of Santiago, Chile as part of a larger movement demanding free and public higher education for all of Chile's students. Now she weighs just 108 lbs. She has been hospitalized since August 17 due to respiratory complications.

On Monday, Sergio Aguilera, director of the Hospital of Buin, submitted a medical report to the San Miguel Appellate Court, in which he described the health of Negrete, the only Buin hunger striker currently hospitalized, and four other students as "a worrisome progression, but not critical." The report is expected to help resolve a petition by the government of Chacabuco, a province in the Santiago metropolitan region, to medically intervene with the students to end the hunger strike.

In this video filmed Friday, Negrete reads a declaration by the hunger strikers of Buin. Below is an English transcript of the video.

"The students on hunger strike from Buin declare, given the insufficient signals from the government and their indifference throughout the student movement, as the hunger strikers of Buin, we call upon [President] Sebastián Piñera to present a solution to our demands that have kept us mobilized during this hunger strike. Endangering our lives today with all who are in this hunger strike throughout Chile, we demand that the President of the Republic give us concrete solutions now. Not like the responses given to us by the Minister of Education. We also declare that whatever physical damage we suffer, the only one responsible will be President Sebastián Piñera. We ask that the people of Chile join us in solidarity this Sunday, August 21, in putting up black flags in front of their homes. This will be a manifestation of the discontent of the responses that this government has given to all the students of Chile. Our lives end, but we know this sacrifice will not be in vain. It will mean that all boys, girls and youth in Chile will finally have a free and dignified education. Today we are in the hospital of Buin, and with our health in precarious conditions after 33 days of this hunger strike, we cry out to be heard, and we represent the cries of millions of Chileans. For all our peers who are mobilized throughout the country, we say: the engine of history is the fight among classes. Thank you for being the engine of our history. Resistance, friends." —Buin, August 19, 2011

The Minister of Health, Jaime Mañalich, visited the student on Sunday to urgently call on them to end the hunger strike. Read a Spanish version of their visit here.

President Sebastián Piñera said in an interview with the newspaper El Mercurio, "We know very well that hidden behind this student movement are other motivations."

In an interview with radio station Cooperativa, Negrete said, "I am here on my own will, not for a political party. I am not of the right or the left. I am fighting for a worthy education for all Chileans, for an education for those high school students who continue the fight daily in the streets."

For more on the student protest movement in Chile, watch this video.

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