In just a matter of months, Vallejo has been catapulted from anonymous student body president to Latin American folk hero with more than 300,000 Twitter followers. Type her name into Google and there are more than 160,000 results just from the past 24 hours. Brazilian students now parade her as a VIP guest at their marches, the Chilean president invites her to negotiate a settlement and when she calls for a show of strength hundreds of thousands of students throughout Chile take to the streets. As an adept and wildly popular social media phenomenon, Vallejo has risen to become the most recognisable face of the student protesters.
Throughout the six-month revolt, Chilean students – in many cases led by 14- and 15-year-olds – have seized the streets of Santiago and major cities, provoking and challenging the status quo with their demand for a massive restructuring of the nation’s for-profit higher education industry. In support of their demands for free university education, since May they have organised 37 marches, which have gathered upwards of 200,000 students at a time.