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In 'Win for Social Movements,' Student Leader Camila Vallejo Wins Seat in Chile's Congress

Vallejo joined by three other leaders of student uprising that began in 2011 in electoral victory

Andrea Germanos, staff writer

Camila Vallejo. (Photo: Paulo Slachevsky/cc/flickr)

Student leader, activist and communist Camila Vallejo, who became the face of a populist uprising calling for a free and quality education for all, was elected to a seat in Chile's Congress on Sunday.

Ahead of the election results, the 25-year-old told the UK's Observer that the movement that began in 2011 was key in breaking "the cultural hegemony of the neoliberal model imposed on Chile during the military dictatorship," and said, "The rightwing is in intensive care. You can see it in the polls and in the streets."

In addition to Vallejo, three others who helped lead the student uprising were elected to Congress: fellow communist Karol Cariola, Giorgio Jackson of the Democratic Revolution, and Gabriel Boric, representing the Autonomous Left.

Cariola told CNN Chile that more than a victory for the student movement it was a victory for the social movement they had worked for.

Jackson also said that their electoral success marked "very good news for social movements."

Some youth, however, are wary of embracing the former student leaders' electoral success. "The possibility for change isn't in Congress," Melissa Sepulveda, the new head of the Universidad de Chile's student body, told Reuters.

Also on Sunday, former president Michelle Bachelet won the first round of voting and now faces a runoff.

Democracy Now! reports:

Former Chilean president Michelle Bachelet is poised to return to office after winning the first round of presidential elections. Bachelet took close to 47 percent in Sunday’s vote, more than 20 points ahead of her closest rival, but just short of the 50 percent needed to avoid a run-off. That vote will be held next month. Bachelet served from 2006 to 2010 as Chile’s first female president. She has run on a platform of tackling income inequality and reforming a constitution dating back to the regime of General Augusto Pinochet, when she herself was a political prisoner.


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