Candlelit Vigil for Daniel Zamudio

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UPDATE: Daniel Zamudio has died. President Piñera says that the anti-discrimination legislation long pending will now move forward. Whether or not this will promote real change remains to be seen. I can say that the public sentiment and outrage surrounding this case has been far-reaching and unanimous. The Chilean people may not be the most open nation when it comes to LGBT issues and rights, but they vehement do not accept these kinds of hateful attacks. Daniel will most definitely not be forgotten. Rest in peace.

One hundred people in near silence are milling about, not saying too much and generally just trying not to cry. Daniel Zamudio was beaten and tortured for six hours on March 3rd by a group of four drunk young males (ages 19-26) in downtown Santiago, Chile. They burned him with cigarettes, broke his leg and marked his body with carved swastikas on his belly and face. For this it has been deduced that they are possibly part of a sect of Neo-nazis whose mission is a message of violence against anyone different. Daniel’s error was having been born gay. Maybe these guys were pissed that he had the gall to exist with that gay face of his. They are now in jail. If Daniel dies, they will spend 40 years there before possible parole. I’m not sure what would happen if he lives. A number of years ago President Michelle Bachelet proposed an anti-discrimation bill. It hasn’t gone anywhere. That looks likely to change, as Matthew Shepard’s death spurred similar action.

The sidewalk in front of the Central Hospital is covered in candles, notes and posters. The candles are a sign of continued vigilance, waiting for the doctors’ to explain what comes next. What comes next is more waiting. They have detected that part of his brain is not responding, but aren’t fully sure if he has suffered total brain death. The dailies have been reporting today that they have to do further tests to know for certain. Regardless, it looks very grim.

There is an overwhelming feeling of sadness laced with profound respect here in the quiet darkness. The people here are very supportive. We all want Daniel to make it. We all want justice even though this world doesn’t always grant it. His family gets in their car and drives away at the end of another night. They call out the window, Gracias, thanks for coming everyone. I hope our humble act of simply standing there and showing our faces makes them feel a tiny bit better, or at least not quite so alone.

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