SANTIAGO – As new videos have appeared of the exact moment Camilo Catrillanca was killed, and another video of Carabineros dragging the body of the 24-year-old Mapuche from his tractor, the positions of Carabineros police force head Hermes Soto and Internal Affairs Minister Andrés Chadwick have become untenable. For over a month, the existence of these videos had been denied. In one of the videos it becomes clear that the Jungle Commando squad wasn’t under fire when Catrillanca got shot.
It was no stray bullet that killed Catrillanca. The 24-year-old Mapuche was not crossing a shootout with his tractor when he got hit. The elite force members of the Grupo de Operaciones Policiales Especiales (GOPE) were carrying active body cams and had footage of the shooting – footage they kept hidden during the last weeks, even when their trial had already begun.
Three important conclusions could be drawn as audiovisual evidence appeared yesterday in national media. Conclusions that show that those involved have lied to judges, media and politicians over the last couple of weeks.
Resignation of Soto and Chadwick demanded (again)
It is this pattern of lies that have made opposition in Chile demand the resignation of Hermes Soto, national head of the Chilean Carabineros, and Andrés Chadwick, Minister of Internal Affairs. Due to their position, they bear the ultimate responsibility for the actions of the GOPE.
After the videos appeared, Hermes Soto said he was being lied to by his own people, while Andrés Chadwick said: “the government condemns the abusive conducts committed by the Carabineros”. He didn´t want to comment on the position of Hermes Soto.
Video I: the killing of Camilo Catrillanca
The footage of Camilo Catrillanca getting shot was hidden for over a month by an officer, Patricio Sepúlveda, and was handed over by the lawyer of another GOPE-member and released yesterday by news outlet CHV Noticias.
Sepúlveda was in charge of the unit, with among others, Carlos Alarcón, who fired the bullet that killed Catrillanca. The entire unit said later they did not carry cameras – the only one carrying a working cam said he destroyed the footage because of “intimate images of him and his partner on the memory card”.
Although the footage captured by the body cam is quite difficult to follow, some instructions and comments are clearly audible.
A helicopter accompanying the GOPE-unit instructs the unit to follow a blue tractor, as according to him “the hueones apparently got on the tractor”. At that moment, Camilo Catrillanca was passing by on a tractor in the company of a 15-year-old boy.
“We screwed up, guys”
Later in the video, the voice of the shooter, Carlos Alarcón, is being heard, screaming “Stop there”, before firing at least twelve bullets. The footage indicates there was no shooting or crossfire at the moment of the killing of Catrillanca.
Upon their arrival at the tractor, one of the members of the unit is heard saying: “We screwed up, guys”, while one of the other members is seen having his foot on the head of the 15-year-old boy who accompanied Catrillanca in his last moments.
Video II: the body of Camilo Catrillanca
After the video of the killing another one appeared with graphic images of the body of the Mapuche man, lying in a pool of blood on his tractor.
The video, released by investigative portal CIPER Chile shows how GOPE-members are trying to stabilize the victim, while detaining the boy accompanying him.
After finding out the man is alive, they try to get him off the tractor and in a Dodge truck, to take him to the hospital. Catrillanca would later die there.
As evidence has been piling up that the death of Camilo Catrillanca was anything but an accident, and as decision makers are either lied to or part of the conspiracy, the crisis that has put activists and Mapuche people against the government is worsening. This week, a response of the government is being expected.
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.