Francisco Tapia, who is also known as 'Papas Fritas', is a Chilean activist and artist. He claimed in a video that the debt owed to the Universidad del Mar was now worthless.
“It’s over, it’s finished. 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,” Tapia says in the five-minute video.
Papas Fritas’ action came after tens of thousands of students protested outside the National Comptroller’s Office of Chile (General Accounting Office) and followed a petition by the National Association of High School Students, which demanded that Nicolas Eyzaguirre carry out his legal responsibility to sniff out and sanction educational institutions that are making a profit.
Tapia was at the protests when he came up with the idea to wipe the student debt by stealing the papers.
The destruction of the loan documents illustrates a years-long opposition to Chile’s for-profit universities. Before General Augusto Pinochet’s dictatorship, education was considered a public good, but after he came to power in 1973, it was commoditized and privatized. The cost of education in the country reached among the highest in the world and the students found themselves deeper and deeper in debt.
Now, here’s one inventive way to deal with the student debt problem. We just hope no one in the United States gets ideas into their head from Tapia’s actions.
According to The Institute for College Access and Success’ (TICAS) Project on Student Debt, the average student in an American college will graduate with $26,600 worth of debt and if the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is to be believed, loans have crossed the $1.2 trillion mark — $1 trillion of that in federal student loan debt.
As Senator Elizabeth Warren recently said, "Student loan debt is a real and growing crisis that is crushing young people and dragging down our economy."