Four months after becoming the first protester to lose his sight, the young Gustavo Gatica returned to Plaza Italia on Wednesday, the epicenter of the protests in Chile and the place where on November 8 an agent shot two pellets in the face. .
At the shout of “Piñera, guilty, your hands have blood!”, The university student walked around the plaza holding his brother and accompanied by a small group of friends, while he was cheered by the dozens of protesters who were protesting against the government one more day in place.
“It is the first time that my brother goes out into the street after he received that attack from the repressive forces. They are mixed feelings. Many things are revived, but it is also exciting to receive the affection of the people,” his visibly moved Efe told brother Enrique Gatica.
With sunglasses, a cane and a black T-shirt alluding to the demonstrations that the Chilean students staged in the subway and that detonated the social outbreak, Gatica made her first public appearance on the same day that marks the two-year anniversary of the rise to power of the Chilean president, the conservative Sebastián Piñera.
“That my brother takes to the streets again is a symbol of resistance and he wanted to express that, that despite the complexity of his medical situation he is back on the streets,” said Enrique.
“It is a call for people to continue participating, mobilizing, organizing so that this criminal government ends once and for all,” he added.
The 21-year-old young man and a student of Psychology was the first protester who was completely blind by firing pellets. After spending 17 days in a hospital in the capital, doctors announced on November 26 that nothing could be done for his eyes.
His case went around the world and sparked heated criticism from various international organizations, which denounced the high number of eye mutilations during the dispersal of the protests and accused the security forces of serious human rights violations.
According to the independent National Institute of Human Rights (NHRI), a total of 405 people have suffered eye injuries since the crisis began last October, of which two were completely blind and 31 suffered a burst or total loss of one of the eyes. .
The Chilean Society of Ophthalmology even spoke of an unprecedented “epidemic” of eye mutilation in the country.
In addition to Gatica, the other person who lost his sight is Fabiola Campillai, a 36-year-old woman who was hit by a tear gas bomb in late November when she was waiting for the bus to head to the night shift from her work in Santiago.
The Chilean Prosecutor’s Office opened an investigation to find the agents who shot both Gatica and Campillai, but no progress has yet been disclosed.
Chile is experiencing its most serious social upheaval since the end of the Augusto Pinochet dictatorship (1973-1990), which has already left more than thirty people dead, thousands wounded and detained, in addition to episodes of extreme violence with fires, looting and destruction of public furniture.