Raining on the Parade

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It’s been raining for two days, which the government and the education minister decided was cause to close the school doors. Being from Wisconsin, this tickles me so. But when two of the Unis where I teach followed suit, I decided to take advantage and catch up on some sleep. I then had to drag my butt to the bank to send money to the north to pay back a student loan from a bank that rhymes with Shitty. I – like many others – feel like I got taken for a ride on student loans. You definitely don’t want to get me started on that. I’ve noticed a lot in the news lately about interest rates rising soon if congress doesn’t act! Mine are already at that rate. I called my bank to ask why. They gave me no real answer.

With this backdrop in mind, I set out to the bank to give away more of my money (when the interest total is the equivalent to the principal sum, I do feel I am gifting my pesos) I came across a student march in progress. Universities here are supposedly non-profit by law, but that is so laughably untrue. I had thought for years they were for-profit to explain the abundance of crappy schools that have set up shop to rake in cash. Anyhow, most students and their families cannot afford the education here. Many are forced into high interest rate loans, which leads into debt servitude in a place where minimum wage is 375 bucks a month. So they march, the government heads talk, the schools pretend they’re accountable and it continues on still.

Standing in the median of the main Alameda Avenue downtown, I watch helmeted baton-twirling ninja turtle look-alike officers scrambling down the sidewalk, some go down into the subway train below. The real march has long been over, and only the anarchists remain. They can often be found stirring up something at the end of all political protests. The tall, thin 7-storey pines sway from side to side as the carabineros astride their motorbikes glide down the road during this brief rain respite. At the next block, there is a whole other team of police officers with sticks and shields and guns. I don’t see who they could be defending themselves against for a few minutes. Then I notice a ragtag crew of encapuchados near the park entrance tossing pebbles toward the police, who are rolling in with a tear gas truck. You know, being big strong men, saving the citizenry. It’s like a stupid game and both sides are in it to win it. The president wants to make a new law against the encapuchados who cover their faces, saying they are cowardly to hide behind them. And the ninja turtles? They are in head to toe body armor with all the big guns on their side. Is the status quo anywhere so wonderful that it must be protected so forcefully?

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