By Natalia Cruces
Thursday, September 1, 2011
Early morning, on Friday, August 26, Manuel was together with his brother and a friend, when he was shot in the chest. Several witnesses, neighbors and his own brother, are charging that the bullets were fired from a police van. Manuel was only 16 years old, and he was studying at the Saint Lawrence Industrial Technical High School. The government and police have denied any ties to the act, rejecting even the possibility of conducting an internal investigation, saying that it is the legal system that must investigate, the same legal system that imprisons the Mapuches and the working-class and popular militants. The democracy for the rich of the right-wing and the Concertación has added another victim, like the student Daniel Menco in Arica yesterday, the worker Rodrigo Cisternas or the Mapuche youths like Alex Lemún.
Manuel’s death is not an isolated act. Since the students’ struggle began, hundreds of complaints and videos have shown the brutality of the police and special forces, who assault, threaten, persecute and torture students, as in the case of the student Fernando Andrés Zurita of Valparaíso, arrested and beaten by several cops inside a police bus. "First, the five of them pulled me everywhere by my hair; then came the punches to my head" (Diario El Ciudadano). Fernando ended up with a broken nose and an injury to one of his eyes. In Santiago, another student arrested in a march has condemned the beating that he received from police, who, while they were hitting him, were asking him, "Don’t you enjoy going out to march?", as well as threatening him with death. In Concepción, the leader of the Federation of Students, Recaredo Gálvez, 21 tears old, was arrested and tortured just like Cristian Andrade, from the University of Valparaíso, who tells how police were torturing him in a police bus, "by jumping on his body, hitting him with sticks on his legs, torso, and head. After that, they rubbed lemon into his open facial wounds, subsequently to use tear gas, that they forced him to inhale repeatedly. During all these tortures, the police officers abused him psychologically with threats to rape his mother, implying that they knew he was a former student leader" (Statement from the Communist Youth).
The mobilized students have received daily threats from the government, Zalaquett’s lawsuits, evictions from the different mayors, constant harassment from cops, showing up at any time, throwing tear gas into high schools and departments, guards hired by owners of private secondary schools, which receive government subsidies, to intimidate the students, among other things, as well as the constant repression on the marches, tear gas and water, the hundreds struck with hard, heavy wooden clubs and kicks from the police. The repression and impunity with which the police and Special Forces are acting is another one of the inheritances from the dictatorship, which the democracy for the rich of the Concertación and the right wing left standing, that has now claimed the life of Manuel Gutiérrez. The same repression that the Mapuches, the workers when they go out to struggle, the popular groups in the towns, are experiencing, with the criminalization of poverty.
Repression by police and the regime of the democracy for the rich is one more attempt to curb the students’ struggles. It is necessary to strengthen the mobilization, the occupations, the strikes, the marches, and to confront the repressive policy of the government of Piñera and the businessmen.
We have to organize a big movement against repression
For an independent investigatory committee, made up of relatives, human rights’ organizations, students’ and union federations. No confidence in the legal system of the right wing and the Concertación. No more repression against those who struggle. Immediate release of all those imprisoned for struggling.