Chilean Artist, Activist ‘Liberates’ $500 Million Dollars of Student Debt — By Burning It

PIC: Coyau (CC)

PIC: Coyau (CC)

Andrea Germanos writes at Common Dreams:

An artist and activist in Chile has “freed” university students from their student debt by burning $500 million dollars in debt notes.

The action was the work of visual artist Francisco “Papas Fritas” Tapia, who took the debt notes during a student takeover of the University del Mar, burned them to ashes, and put them on display as an exhibit.

“Authorities began shutting down” the university “last year for financial irregularities and encouraged students to seek out alternative universities,” the Santiago Times reported, but “the university is still collecting on its student loans.” It is slated to close at the end of this year.

Chile has been hit since 2011 by waves of student protests that have denounced the Pinochet-era education policies that have enabled ‘profiteering’ and privatization at the nation’s schools, and have prompted demands for education to be a public good, not a commodity.

Papas Fritas — which means “french fries” — released a video in which he passionately describes his burning of each note, turning them to ash and “freeing this debt.”

He hoped it would help “us …. find ways to do things that free us from the fear, that free us from all the things that continually repress us in our faces, in our bodies and in our minds.”

“Calmly I went one by one, burning each one of them, freeing each indebted University del Mar student from this debt.”

“You don’t have to pay any more, my friends… no more. Don’t be afraid,” he says in the video.

“I’m a person like you… I’m a person who within art finds the possibility of saying that things i have to say, or that my friends and brothers want to say…”

“It’s over.”

Read more here.

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  • aaron

    This would never ever happen in the US. As much as it needs to for sure. Student debt bubble is gonna be a poppin soon. When it does dont be within the blast radius of it.

    • BuzzCoastin

      you have the right to remain silent
      anything you say can and will be held against you
      in a kangaroo kourt

      • aaron

        But wait didnt Newsweek just publish that article saying conspiracies dont exist? Maybe im off the hook. You know because it has to be true because MSM said so, right?

    • InfvoCuernos

      This was the plot for Fight Club. Chuck Palahniuk said that he was asked to change the city -I think it was in Connecticut or New Hampshire- because there really was one building where all the credit card info was stored. I am pretty sure that has changed since the movie.

    • Rhoid Rager

      That ageing electric grid will take care of the servers.

      • emperorreagan

        For things like mortgages or student loans, where they send out coupon books for payment, people would probably continue paying long after there’s no evidence of the loan left.

        I wonder if you could request documentation of your loan every few years to see if they can demonstrate they actually have it.

        • Rhoid Rager

          I imagine it would only be a matter of time til they caught on to that trick and opened a dept of loan certificate ‘reproduction’.

          • aaron

            And a fee every time you request a copy

  • Mr Grim

    TRIGGER WARNING: CONTAINS FIRE!

    • aaron

      Zing!

  • emperorreagan

    So are these the only versions of the notes? A nice old school burning of debt records?

    I imagine the electronic trail of debt in the US means there’s a whole lot more that one would need to burn than just the original. Not that I have a problem with that, fire is the gift that keeps on giving ever since the first hominid figured it out.

    • mannyfurious

      Well, if those are the only versions of the notes, I’d have Papas Fritas hospitalized for “suicidal” tendencies. Perhaps a long vacation in a far off land under an assumed name would help him with that….

  • BuzzCoastin

    there was a professor at the Stanford B school
    whom, on the first day of class year 1
    would prove to you that your Stanford MBA
    was a money losing, bad investment

  • frafri

    Im from Chile, and I approve this :!

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