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News > Chile

Outrage in Chile Over Death of Activist During Mapuche March

  • Police in Chile clash with Mapuche activists protesting against Columbus Day in the capital, Santiago.

    Police in Chile clash with Mapuche activists protesting against Columbus Day in the capital, Santiago. | Photo: Twitter/@TRTWorldNow

Published 11 October 2021

Today, Chilean political and social leaders expressed their anger at the death of a humanitarian activist during a Mapuche demonstration in Santiago, demanding an investigation into the circumstances in which the events occurred.

Denisse Cortés, 43, a worker of the People's Defense Office and a law student at the university, worked as an observer during the Indigenous peoples' march held in the center of the capital.

Chilean police officers repressed the demonstrators with water cannons and tear gas bombs. The demonstrators responded with stones and sticks in confrontations that left one dead, about twenty injured and 12 arrests.


Indigenous Rights Lawyer Killed During March In Chile

"Deep pain and indignation for the death of law student Denisse Cortés," wrote on his Twitter account the left-wing presidential candidate Gabriel Boric.

The Apruebo Dignidad alliance representative demanded 'to thoroughly investigate the individual and institutional responsibilities involved."

The case versions are contradictory: Carabineros said that the woman was hit by fireworks thrown by the demonstrators. At the same time, marchers indicated that she was shot in the neck by a tear gas bomb fired by the uniformed officers.

"My deepest condolences to the family and loved ones of Denisse Cortés. We ask that the Public Prosecutor's Office and the Investigative Police act with maximum speed to know the events and clarify what happened in the facts that caused her death," wrote the senator and presidential candidate for the New Social Pact, Yasna Provoste.

According to the Universidad Academia de Humanismo Cristiano, where Cortés studied, the incident occurred when the student was working as part of the legal assistance brigades near the Plaza Baquedano.

"It was a peaceful demonstration of native peoples and she was a human rights lawyer. In a moment, everything changed. Justice for her death. Strength and peace to her family," wrote Marco Enríquez-Ominami, presidential candidate of the Progressive Party, on social networks.

The mother of the deceased activist, Teo Saavedra, expressed her hope that the laws will change and the new constitution will open the possibility to avoid more broken families.

"We cannot be subjugated, we cannot be trampled under any point of view, neither the Mapuche people there suffering in the south, nor us here in Santiago, nor the people in the north," she said.

The Mapuche march took place in the context of the commemoration of October 12, Indigenous Resistance Day.

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