Concerns have been raised after Chile's Minister of Interior, Rodrigo Hinzpeter, called on Congress to approve a law that aims to increase punishments for protesters.
The law was initially proposed following the mass protest on June 28 2011 that sparked a year of demonstrations, some of which have ended in clashes with the Carabineros, Chile's national police. The year-long protests by students have been labelled 'The Chilean Winter', and have seen thousands take to the streets to demand equal education.
Defending the controversial bill, Hinzpeter has said that the law seeks to punish 'people that take advantage of their legitimate right to free speech and expression to commit vandalism without any justification'.
A similar law has been passed in Canada following the student protests that have been taking place there for several months. Bill 78 is an emergency law, passed on 18 May 2012 by the National Assembly of Quebec, Canada. The law restricts freedom of assembly, protest, or picketing on or near university grounds, and anywhere in Quebec without prior police approval. The law also places restrictions upon education employees' right to strike.
If anything the law in Canada encouraged the protests, and gave them not only more motivation but also saw a swell in support as the bill was seen as an attack on democratic rights.
If the law is passed in Chile, further protests would be likely, with student organisers already vowing to continue their fight.