For the past several days, high school students in Chile’s capital Santiago, have been evading the payment of metro tickets and are traveling for free to protest the recent hike in Santiago Metro fare, recently announced by the right-wing government of President Sebastián Piñera.
On October 6, the Ministry of Transport and Telecommunication, announced through a resolution, an increase in the fare of Metropolitan Public Transport Network, which affects citizens traveling by buses, Metro and Central Train in 32 communes in the province of Santiago. According to the new traffic structure, during peak hours, the metro ticket will cost 830 Chilean pesos (1.16 USD) and the bus ticket costs 710 Chilean pesos (1 USD), making Chilean public transportation services one of the most expensive transportation services in Latin America.
The protest action began last Friday October 11, when over 80 students from the National Institute stormed the University of Chile, Bellas Artes and Santa Lucía metro stations, jumped the turnstiles and entered platforms without paying for tickets.
The protests continued on Monday, October 14 and expanded to six other stations and were joined by hundreds of students from different educational institutes. The mass fare evasions were carried out at three different times during the day. In response to the protests, the Santa Ana, Pedro de Valdivia, Quinta Normal, Cumming, Santa Isabel and Irarrázaval metro stations on Line 1 and 5 were closed or operated partially under heavy police surveillance.
The hashtag #EvasiónMasiva (#MassEvasion) trended on social media to call on people to permanently evade the payment of metro tickets as a way of expressing discontent with the hike.
In response, on October 15, the entrance to key stations were heavily guarded and surveilled by the national police force, the Carabineros. In addition, metro stations such as Los Leones and University of Chile half-opened their gates to avoid the fare evasion tactic. Whereas, the stations Plaza de Armas and Puente Cal & Canto closed their gates before the presence of students outside the stations. However, this was not enough to stop the waves of students, who carried out a series of mass evasions at the University of Chile, Cumming, Plaza de Armas and Quinta Normal stations.
A great majority of working class in Santiago rejected the government’s decision and supported young chileans. They also condemned the alleged solution of the Minister of Economy, Juan Andrés Fontaine, who proposed that users get up early so they can access a slightly less expensive ticket.