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News > Chile

Indigenous Rights Lawyer Killed During March In Chile

  • Human rights activist Denisse Cortez.

    Human rights activist Denisse Cortez. | Photo: Twitter/ @chiledissident

Published 11 October 2021

Videos posted on social networks show that she was near a group of police officers when fireworks and tear gas were fired.

Human rights activist Denisse Cortez was seriously injured during an Indigenous People Mapuche's march that took place in Italy Square in Santiago City on Sunday morning.


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A few hours later, this 43-year-old woman, who was studying law and was a member of the Popular Defender's Office, died during an operation carried out at the Santiago Emergency Hospital.

The Military Police (Carabineros) say that Cortez died as a result of a "fireworks" shot directed at the officers. Eyewitnesses and the victim's family, however, questioned this version and pointed out that the woman was hit by a gas canister launched by the police.

"They say it was possibly a firework. Nobody believes them... Someone must do something in this country for the laws to change. They cannot overwhelm or trample us," Cortez’s mother told teleSUR correspondents.

The tweet reads, "Denisse Cortes's mother: 'If Carabineros had given the ambulance ten minutes it needed to get through, my daughter might still be alive'."

Videos posted on social networks show that the social activist was near a group of police officers when fireworks and tear gas were fired. The eyewitnesses also indicated that the Military Police did not allow the first responders to attend Cortez immediately.

"Terrible news. My condolences to her family and community. The facts related to the sad death of Denisse Cortes must be clarified as soon as possible. No one can die from attending a demonstration," said Cristina Dorador, a biologist who was elected to the Assembly that will draft the new Chilean constitution.

Over the last 30 years, the Mapuche people and social organizations have held a march on October 10 to condemn the criminal actions of the Chilean State. On this occasion, police brutality left one person dead, 10 protesters arrested, and 18 people injured.

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