On March 17, 2021 five United States citizens – Rodrigo Melgarejo, Grace Frutos, Bianca Cunningham, Brandon King, and Maya Lazzaro – were arrested (for a second time in a week) in Santiago, Chile with no explanation. “The Chile Five,” as they have been dubbed, were on a cultural exchange and had just returned from Temuco, currently under martial law in response to the land reclamation struggle of the indigenous Mapuche people against the Chilean government and the multinational corporations controlling the resources there.
A week earlier, “The Chile Five” were arrested in the Arturo Merino Benítez International Airport. As “The Chile Five” walked off the plane in the early hours of March 11th, they were detained by the Proyectos de Infraestructura del Perú S.A.C. (PDI), Chile’s investigative police department. After being interrogated for several hours, they were moved to the Hotel Nova Park and quarantined until Sunday, March 14th, when they all tested negative for COVID-19.
After spotting PDI surveillance for three straight days, at least eight PDI officers showed up at their temporary home in Santiago and rearrested “The Chile Five” early in the morning of March 17th. They were then taken to Jefatura Nacional de Migraciones y Policía Internacional and held there until being deported back to the U.S. “The Chile Five” reportedly had their phones and passports confiscated.
In the streets of Chile, the world has witnessed one of the largest sustained uprisings in history. For the last 18 months, hundreds of thousands have united, calling for a new government beholden to the people, not the multinational corporations exploiting Chile’s precious resources.
The backlash from Chile’s government to the protests have been severe, bringing Pinochet’s horrors back into the minds of the people. At least 45 have been killed, hundreds have been injured, and more than 2,500 protestors are being held as political prisoners.
Please call the Chilean Consulate in New York City at (917) 679-0289 or email firstname.lastname@example.org and demand: (1) An investigation in to why “The Chile Five” [Bianca Cunningham, Brandon King, Grace Frutos, Maya Lazzaro, Rodrigo Melgarejo] were arrested and deported back to the U.S., (2) that all detained Chilean protestors are freed and (3) to #DemilitarizeWallmapu.