Singing in Santiago, Chile as an act of protest against Chilean band Hacia La Victoria.
Social unrest has rocked the South American country since October 2019, with mass protests continuing into early 2020, whose members have been partially or fully blinded after being shot by police.
The band’s keyboardist Vicente Pascal lost his left eye after being hit by a bullet.
“I lost my entire eyeball,” he recalls.
Even less fortunate was the band’s drummer, Gustavo Gatica, who lost both eyes when he was shot by police during a protest in November 2019.
Several pictures of his blood-stained face went viral on social media.
their case It became a symbol of police crackdown on protests.
More than 30 civilians were killed in violent clashes with police and more than 400 suffered permanent eye damage.
Sebastian Pinera, then president of the country admitting to excessive use of force Quiet the protests and promise reform.
His successor, Gabriel Borrick, has also pledged to help victims of police violence.
‘They shoot at us to divide us’
eight members of the band to victory They met through a victim support organisation.
They are not only passionate about music, but also eager to defend human rights through songs.
For Pascal, the sheer act of making music is “revolutionary“.
“They’re shooting at us to divide us, and that’s why it’s so valuable to me that we come together to create (music).”
to victory Condemn Chilean police violence with music.
Its members are among the most vocal critics of a new law called Naín-Retamal, which increases penalties for: crime against policeand establish a privileged legal defense in actions related to the use of force.
Organizations such as Amnesty International have warned that the law could have serious consequences for human rights in the country.
In April, a police officer died in the line of duty while chasing armed criminals, prompting the hasty passage of the Nain-Retamar bill.
Daniel Palma was the third agent killed in less than a month.
The police deaths, combined with a 32% rise in the national homicide rate between 2021 and 2022, have heightened concerns about insecurity in one of Latin America’s safest countries.
is an “act of treason”
A poll released in April found that 95 percent of Chileans believe police should be able to use real guns to respond to extreme cases of gun violence.
In 2019, only 49% supported this.
Fearing heightened insecurity, President Gabriel Boric’s government backed the bill despite much criticism.
for the following members to victorythe government’s decision Give police more freedom to use guns Failure to reform institutions is treason.
“I understand that such a macro project cannot be done day in and day out, but going in the exact opposite direction is another story,” Pascal commented on the bill’s approval.
But opposition lawmaker Diego Scharper argued the new powers were necessary at a time of rising kidnappings and drug-related murders.
“The government faces a very serious security crisis‘ he told the BBC.
Scharper, who supports the Nain-Retamar bill, said it reassures police officers that they will not face a hostile response after using weapons in the discharge of police duties.
Victims of the new measures
The government is also allowing police to carry the Uzi again as part of measures to crack down on crime, after it was suspended 11 years ago after a teenager was killed by a police officer with the Uzi during protests.
Days after Uzi’s relaunch this year, another youngster has become New deadly event for submachine guns.
David Toro, 19, was shot dead after being detained by police suspected of involvement in drug trafficking.
The case is still under investigation, but the teen has never been in a cell.
Although he was unarmed, he was shot several times with an Uzi.
“The weapons they were using were not even trained,” said David Toro’s father, Alvaro.
Alvaro Toro insists his son stopped the car and obey orders Information received from police after arrest.
“Police use their powers to threaten people and hide behind uniforms.”
Rodrigo Bustos, director of Amnesty International Chile, said Toro’s case showed the danger the new law posed to civilians.
“Nain-Reta Marfa Assuming that police force is a fair use when we know it is not‘, he added.
In his view, the Nain-Retamar law “has nothing to do with protecting the police” but rather with minimizing the penalties faced by agents of abusive behaviour.
Comfort through music
Only a fraction of the complaints about human rights abuses allegedly committed by officials during the protests made it to trial.
And far fewer ended up being convicted.
According to the latest statistics from Amnesty International by the end of 2022, Only 140 of the 10,938 complaints resulted in charges.
In the few cases that have come to court, lawyers defending the police have successfully invoked the Nain-Retamar Act.
In May, five police officers were acquitted of beating a civilian protester: a court found they had acted in self-defense.
group to victory Victims of police brutality are believed to be abandoned, and their survivors’ mental health is severely compromised.
Four people partially or completely blinded during protests they took their own lives.
The band members, angry at Chile’s “police impunity” but find solace in music, each bring a variety of musical influences from rock to rap, folk to funk.
Your song a scary story Tells the story of a young protester who was wounded by the police and summarizes the power imbalance they and others who have been wounded by the police feel at the protests:
“He fights for himself, he craves dignity, he uses only stones, they are real weapons”, Sergio “Toto” Concha sings on guitar.
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