Since March 22, a group of political prisoners, anarchists, subversives and prisoners of the revolt in Chile, started a hunger strike, demanding to abolish Decree Law 321, which transforms into a very difficult to access “reward” the old right of “parole,” and also demanding the release of Marcelo Villarroel, who has spent 25 years in various prisons. Regarding this new mobilization carried out from inside the prisons of democracy, Vamos Hacia La Vida talked with a spokesperson of the comrades.
What are the common characteristics of the comrades who are on hunger strike inside the prisons?
Political Imprisonment in Chile is a reflection in the context and composition of the different expressions of the intense and different social struggles unfolding in the national territory; that is why it is possible to find particular positions of those who join the views and analysis of the broad black line that expresses anarchism; but all of them share in common the absolute and combative rejection of the bourgeois, capitalist, exploitative, predatory, repressive political regime, always working for and serving the interests of the rich and the exploiters. Thus, within Political Imprisonment, there are many people imprisoned in the context of the massive social revolt unleashed in the country since October 2019, there are subversive prisoners, autonomous, anarchists, several of them serving long sentences in a real state of social war against the prevailing system, its supporters and false critics, against the establishment and all authority.
What are the consequences of the amendments included in Decree Law 321 for prisoners seeking parole?
It has several disastrous consequences, starting with the fact that it is the only retroactive law in Chile (and certainly in many countries), that is, its effects and validity affect any prisoner regardless of whether their convictions were handed out years or even decades before its implementation. The removal of Article 1 of this law, replaced by the current Article 9, means an unprecedented tightening of the requirements to qualify for parole, which ceased to be a prisoner’s right and became a reward. The proportion of time served on a sentence to be eligible for this reward has been considerably increased; thus, if in the past, half of the sentence was required, today, 2/3 of the sentence is required. In addition, the system for granting conditional liberties has changed: previously, a joint decision between the gendarmerie, judges and police; today, its granting depends exclusively on a nefarious, fascist, annihilating and torturing institution such as the gendarmerie.
How does all this affect political prisoner Marcelo Villarroel Sepúlveda in particular?
Marcelo Villarroel is particularly affected. He has been imprisoned for a total of 25 years in 3 periods. He is currently sentenced to 14 years for expropriation of a bank, with more than 11 years behind bars he should be released, but due to a sentence imposed more than 25 years ago by the rotten military justice system, he is decades away from being eligible for parole. He is the only political prisoner in the country sentenced by military prosecutors, although it is assumed that no civilian can be tried for years by that monstrosity of justice; his sentences, which total 40 years, go back to the context of his militancy in the Mapu Lautaro guerrilla organization that fought the capitalist system in its fascist and neoliberal version and its “democratic” continuity after March 1990, with weapons in their hands, during Pinochet’s dictatorship. Today, the judicial body that oversees the enforcement of sentences – the gendarmerie – has determined that Marcelo “owes” the military courts more than 25 years of his sentence; therefore, after serving his sentence for the “security case,” he should begin to serve the years he supposedly still has to serve.
So far, what has been the response of the gendarmerie and the State to the demands of the mobilization?
The response of the gendarmerie has been the usual in these cases, that is, threats, intimidation, sanctions and punishments that seek to isolate our comrades from their supportive and complicit social and familial environment. The State, particularly through its judicial system, has summoned the comrades to hearings where it has ordered them to abandon their attitude, since it supposedly only harms them and exposes them to sanctions; the response has been clear and forceful: the reasons for the strike are clear and legitimate: the return of Article 1 of Law 321, repeal of Article 9 and immediate freedom for Marcelo Villarroel.
What is your opinion regarding the current development of class struggle in the Chilean region?
Taking into consideration the revolt, the generalized repression, the pandemic, the constituent process, etc., since October 2019, there is clearly a qualitative and strong quantitative leap in the diverse face of revolt, protest and social war. It is not that it did not exist or had not been expressed before; in fact, the historical continuity of social struggles for equality, justice and solidarity among humans has existed since ancient times; what changed the country, the organizations and social movements in this territory forever, was the rebelliousness, combativeness and effectiveness of the attacks and actions of self-defense developed by multiple forms, organized or not, of the relationship between the maladjusted, marginalized, exploited and native people. Since the times of Pinochet’s dictatorship, we have not seen the current levels of conflict, its persistence and continuity; from there, it is also possible to understand (although never forget and even less “forgive”) the innumerable, massive and merciless attacks of the repressive forces. In fact, their system of domination more than just faltered; they knew the insurrectionary fury of countless generations of rebels personified in a historical context, that of today’s Chile, very different from that of only 2 years ago, already embarked on an insurrectionary route of no return.
Finally, what is the most urgent thing that is needed from those in solidarity with the prisoners’ struggle?
The most urgent thing is to develop multiple actions of support and solidarity, to spread these legitimate demands widely and on a daily basis; only imagination is the limit; let everyone do their part; there are no better or worse contributions; class solidarity, mutual support and the struggle against the ruling conditions are our horizons.