Protests in Quintero over death of environmental activist

QUINTERO – The death of social leader Alejandro Castro has caused unrest in the communities of Quintero and Puchuncaví. Today, and during the weekend, hundreds of concerned citizens marched against what some already consider the murder of an environmental activist. Meanwhile, human rights organizations and politicians have asked for further investigations.

Although the protests were forbidden, over 200 people participated in the march in Quintero, that ended just outside the house of the fisherman, whose body was found last Friday. On Satudarday afternoon, family, friends and protesters had said a last farewell to Castro during his funeral in Quintero. In a first declaration, the Investigation Police Department (PDI) stated the death of Castro was considered as suicide. Later they confirmed they will investigate the sudden death of the activist, as Castro received various death threats over his leading role in the protests against the contamination of Quintero and Puchuncaví.

The girlfriend of Castro: “It was the State that killed him”

The girlfriend of Castro, Polett Urrutia, spoke with the Chilean news website The Clinic, and refuses to believe Castro took his own life. “He was always being followed by the police or Paz Ciudadana, they always search him or did identity checks on him.” Urrutia pointed out in the interview she doesn´t believe in suicide. “If he wanted to kill himself, he would have grabbed a boat and thrown himself into the sea.”

She continued to say she believes “it was the State that killed him, that wants to silence us because they know they are wrong. Also, he was a union leader, he was someone who was in charge here in Quintero.”

Politicians and human rights organizations ask for clarification

The National Institute of Human Rights (INDH) has requested the Public Prosecutor in Valparaíso to open a case to investigate the death of Castro. Following the words of regional director of the INDH, Fernando Martínez, the prosecutor in Valparaíso should take ” all the necessary steps needed to clarify and identify those responsible.”

Senators of the Frente Amplio have announced they will take similar steps, in order to “clarify the circumstances of the death of Alejandro Castro”. Deputy Jorge Brito (FA) said that “because of his leadership role and because of the threats he had received, this case needs special concern.”

Interior Minister Andrés Chadwick on the other side, did confirm that the case was considered as suicide. He added that he couldn´t say more, due to the early stage the current investigation is in.

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