Politics, Rights, World

Students shed clothes and burn debts as push for reform continues

Police on Thursday confiscated a heap of ashes displayed at a Centro Cultural Gabriela Mistral (GAM) exhibition — allegedly all that remains of US$500 million in pagarés — or debt paper — stolen and burned by artist and activist Francisco Tapia, aka Papas Fritas.

A video by Tapia went viral in student circles earlier this week wherein he confessed to burning the legal papers certifying debt owed by Universidad del Mar students and had thus liberated the students from their debt obligations. The video and its widespread circulation no doubt prompted the police raid at the art exhibit.

It’s over, it’s finished, Tapia said in his impassioned five minute video. You don’t have to pay another peso [of your student loan debt]. We have to lose our fear, our fear of being thought of as criminals because we’re poor. I am just like you, living a shitty life, and I live it day by day — this is my act of love for you.

Although authorities began shutting down Universidad del Mar last year for financial irregularities and encouraged students to seek out alternative universities, the university is still collecting on its student loans.

The destruction of the documents occurred during a toma — student takeover — of the campus and means the embattled university owners must now individually sue each of its students to assure debt payment — a very costly, time-consuming process — via redwolf.newsvine.com

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