Francisca Sandoval: The Chilean journalist shot in the head dies during a march in Santiago

The Chilean journalist Francisca Sandoval, 29, died this Thursday as a result of the shot in the face she received on May 1, while reporting a march for Labor Day in the Meiggs commercial neighborhood, in the Central Station district ( Santiago). When President Gabriel Boric condemned this new act of violence in the midst of the complex public order scenario facing the country, he said: “This is how the worst tragedies in Latin America begin, also attacking the press.” The alleged perpetrator of the shooting, Mauricio Naranjo, a 42-year-old Chilean, is in preventive detention and risks up to 11 years in prison. Sandoval is the first journalist to die since the return to democracy in 1990 while she was doing her job.

Around 1:00 p.m. on Sunday, May 1, a group of demonstrators from the march called by the Central Classista de Trabajadores, an alternative organization to the main multi-union organization, the Unitary Central of Workers (CUT), caused incidents near the businesses of traveling merchants in the Meiggs neighborhood. There was looting, clashes with the police, barricades and Molotov cocktails being thrown. The vendors, linked to the mafias that rent public space to informal businesses, responded with shots, which left three wounded – two women and one man. Sandoval, the most serious victim, was covering the march for television Signal 3 The Victory. “Francisca did not leave us. They murdered her ”, her companions published this afternoon on the channel’s Twitter account.

Sandoval remained in the Public Assistance Emergency Hospital (HUAP), located in the center of the capital. “She underwent surgery and was subsequently kept on advanced life support for 12 days, without neurological improvements, and evolving to multi-organ failure that caused her death,” the health center reported in a statement.

For several days a group of protesters gathered outside the hospital to demand justice for the attack suffered by the journalist. Boric went to visit the reporter on May 3 and met with the family for 40 minutes. At the exit, several of the protesters booed the president and hit the car in which he was traveling.

“Violence harms democracy and irreparably damages families. Our commitment is to security and justice, and we will not rest in that desire,” the Chilean president wrote on Twitter on Thursday. “My condolences and hugs to the family of Francisca Sandoval, innocent victim of criminals. We will not allow impunity,” he added. For her part, the interior minister, Izkia Siches, regretted what happened on the radio. “No one goes out to work and expects something like this to happen. It speaks of the moment that the country is going through, and of the need to return to a space of greater order,” said the head of the security portfolio.

A controversy surrounding the Labor Day commemoration is a video of one of those involved in the attacks on protesters talking to the police. On the “facts that have called into question the behavior” of the agents, the Undersecretary of the Interior, Manuel Monsalve, reported the opening of an internal investigation of Carabineros de Chile by the Ministry of the Interior. The Government also filed a complaint to criminally prosecute those responsible.

Naranjo, charged with the crimes of frustrated homicide, illegal possession of a firearm and unjustified shooting, is so far the only alleged culprit in Sandoval’s death. The Chilean had a record for carrying firearms and drug trafficking in 2007, 2011 and 2014. He is now risking five years and one day for frustrated homicide, three years and one day for illegally carrying firearms and three years and one day for unjustified shooting. The other two detainees, Yonaiker Fuenmayor Rondón, a 22-year-old Venezuelan, and Luis Flores Salazar, a 31-year-old Colombian, are under house arrest after being charged with illegal possession of firearms.

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