SANTIAGO – The death of Camilo Catrillanca (24), who was shot in the Araucanía region, has caused nationwide protests. In cities such as Santiago, Concepción and Temuco students, Mapuche activists and opposition took to the streets to demand justice for the Mapuche man. In various cities the protests resulted in clashes with Carabineros.
The death of Camilo Catrillanca shows the deep division in Chile. While some Chileans claim that Catrillanca was a convicted criminal, who either had bad luck or was part of the crime that led to the shooting, others say he was victim of the militarization and oppression of the Chilean armed forces in the southern regions of Chile.
Not awaiting conclusions from police investigations, protestors all over Chile took to the streets to protest the death of the 24-year-old man. They demanded justice for Catrillanca, whom activists claim has been assassinated by the Chilean State.
As on Wednesday night, when the first news about the death of Catrillanca went public, only small groups of protestors demonstrated in front of La Moneda palace in Santiago. A day later large crowds turned out. In various places in Santiago and other Chilean cities these demonstrations resulted in violence.
Clashes in Santiago
One of the places where the protests erupted in violence was Baquedano Plaza, often the stage of clashes between protestors and Carabineros. Protestors burnt tires, bikes and other objects to form barricades, while Carabineros shot teargas grenades to disperse the crowds. On one of the buildings on Baquedano Plaza, the face of Catrillanca was projected.
Av. Bernardo O´Higgins, or La Alameda, was closed down, as protestors blocked traffic, and various protestors were arrested. For one night, Santiago Centro seemed to have turned into a warzone.
Opposition protests in front of La Moneda
This morning, the youth parties of the opposition came together in front of La Moneda to demand the resignation of Andrés Chadwick, the Minister of Internal Affairs. Opposition groups see the Jungle Commando, the elite force of the Carabineros that received anti-terrorism training in Colombia, as responsible for the death of Catrillanca.
The protests resulted, again, in clashes with Carabineros. Four activists were arrested. The youth parties have denounced the violence used by the Carabineros during their demonstration.
In other cities the death of Catrillanca has caused people to protest. In Temuco, seen as the indigenous capital of Chile, a group of protestors has gathered in front of the campus of the Catholic University. Traffic has been blocked and Carabineros have arrived at the scene, according to Radio Bíóbío.
In Valdivia, further south, students from the Universidad Austral de Chile (UACh) have occupied the university library out of protest.
In other parts of the southern region, incendiary attacks were reported on forestry machines.
Editor-In-Chief Boris van der Spek is the founder of Chile Today. He worked in Colombia, Surinam and the Netherlands as reporter and works with international media during major events, like the social crisis, the elections and the Pope’s visit.