Francisca Sandoval, a social communicator for La Victoria’s Señal 3, died on Thursday 12 May. The journalist was being treated at the ex-Posta Central de Santiago, after being shot in the head by an individual in concert with the militarised police in the central alleyway of the Alameda, Chile’s main artery, while reporting on a march for International Workers’ Day on May 1st. The killer, Marcelo Naranjo Naranjo, remanded in custody and charged with murder, is being investigated by the prosecutor’s office.

By Andrés Figueroa Cornejo

The journalist’s colleagues from Señal 3 in La Victoria wrote that, “Francisca did not leave us. She was murdered. Through these words we confirm the death of our dear Fran. We will miss you and we will do everything we can to find the truth”.

During the days that Francisca was hospitalised in a very serious condition, a group of people in solidarity camped outside the hospital, where they were harassed and permanently repressed by the Special Forces of the Carabineros.

In this context, another journalist wrote that, “Since our colleague Francisca Sandoval, journalist and popular communicator of Señal 3 in La Victoria was brutally attacked by delinquents linked to the mafias of a commercial neighbourhood in the capital of Chile, who shot her directly in the face in concomitance with the police to repel the May Day demonstrations, every night a large number of people have been present to express their solidarity. Every night they light candles, they protest, they take to the streets and, by the way, the police forces arrive to repress, now under the government of Gabriel Boric. Water cannons (guanacos), gas cannons (skunks), police on foot in a shock force deployment (Pacos), as if those of us outside the hospital were the most wanted, most dangerous criminals”.

He added that, “We are journalists, popular communicators, human rights activists, leaders of the territories, rescue brigades that support us by attending to the wounded and injured in the protest and rescue us from the clutches of repression whenever they can. That’s how it is every night, we more or less get rid of the water with chemicals, we dodge the tear gas, and we start up if we see that they are coming for us, for us. And yes, there is anger and that is good, because anger mobilises, anger allows us to talk about possible futures, and it makes us want to have something to defend ourselves when the lackeys of the Minister of the Interior, Iskia Siches, the battalions of henchmen of the President of the Republic, Gabriel Boric, arrive, who with his mediatising, mediating discourse, his clowning in front of the cameras, tries to lower the profile of everything”.

Likewise, the Human Rights Defenders, Sutra, who have been providing comprehensive assistance to people participating in popular demonstrations for a decade, demanded “the promptest investigation and condemnation of all those responsible for Francisca’s death”.

For its part, the staff and the Hospital de Urgencia Asistencia Pública itself issued a public document in which they communicated “the sensitive death of Francisca Sandoval Astudillo which occurred today (12 May 2022) at 10.58 AM”, and added that, “The patient was admitted to our establishment on Sunday 1 May in a state of extreme gravity as a result of a traumatic brain injury caused by a ballistic bullet. She underwent surgery and was subsequently kept on advanced life support for 12 days, with no neurological improvement and progressing to multi-organ failure, which led to her death”.