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May 26, 2017

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Chilean students demand system overhaul

SANTIAGO, Chile -- Tens of thousands of high school and college students took to the streets of the Chilean capital on Thursday to call for the end of public financing of private universities and other reforms to the country's troubled educational system.

The protesters, many brandishing banners and flags, braved sometimes heavy rains on their 3-mile- (5-kilometer-) long march through Santiago.

Though most of the protest took place without incident, at one point a few masked students hurled stones at police and lobbed a Molotov cocktail at a car, setting it alight. Police responded swiftly, putting out the burning vehicle and retaliating with tear gas and water cannons.

Student protests have rocked this country on South America's southwest coast for more than a year and their fight for an educational overhaul here has captured headlines worldwide. Thursday's march was the third this year.

The government has responded to student pressure by making some changes, but student leaders insist they don't go far enough.

Chile is beset by poor-quality public schools and expensive private universities benefiting from state funding, and many students face huge educational loan debts.

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