For Chileans blinded in police violence, making tune has turn into one trail to therapeutic : NPR

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The band Hacía los angeles Victoria, Spanish for “Onward to Victory,” after practice session in Santiago, Chile, on Aug. 31. All the musicians within the band sustained critical eye accidents right through clashes with police who used tear fuel and shotguns towards anti-government protesters in 2019. From left: Camilo Galvez, Vicente Pascal, Sergio Concha, Gustavo Gatica, Cesar Galloso, Andrés López, Miles Camus.

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The band Hacía los angeles Victoria, Spanish for “Onward to Victory,” after practice session in Santiago, Chile, on Aug. 31. All the musicians within the band sustained critical eye accidents right through clashes with police who used tear fuel and shotguns towards anti-government protesters in 2019. From left: Camilo Galvez, Vicente Pascal, Sergio Concha, Gustavo Gatica, Cesar Galloso, Andrés López, Miles Camus.

Paz Olivares Droguett for NPR

SANTIAGO, Chile — At a recording studio in downtown Santiago, musicians are noodling on guitars and adjusting the drum equipment as they arrange for a jam consultation that is phase practice session, phase remedy.

All 10 individuals of the band, known as Hacía los angeles Victoria, Spanish for “Onward to Victory,” sustained critical eye accidents right through clashes with police who used tear fuel and shotguns towards anti-government protesters in 2019.

The band’s lyrics center of attention on police brutality in addition to the musicians’ ache, confusion and frustration over what came about to them. In a single tune, “Así fue,” or “That is what came about,” guitarist Sergio Concha recollects the day the demonstrations broke out, when he was once hit within the left eye with a shotgun pellet whilst collaborating within the protests.

Whilst enjoying the tune, he says, “It seems like going again to that second, when all of Santiago was once on hearth, when there have been barricades within the streets, when masked protesters fought the police, and when I used to be within the health center with my eye patched.”

Sergio Concha, sometimes called Totó, rehearses in Santiago on Aug. 31.

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Sergio Concha, sometimes called Totó, rehearses in Santiago on Aug. 31.

Paz Olivares Droguett for NPR

All over 5 months of demonstrations, about 30 folks have been killed whilst greater than 450 protesters have been left in part blind once they have been hit within the face with shotgun pellets or tear fuel canisters fired by way of the police to keep watch over the crowds, in line with Chile’s Nationwide Human Rights Institute.

César Muñoz, a senior researcher in South The us for Human Rights Watch, says the police lacked coaching in crowd keep watch over. Their shotgun shells in most cases contained steel quite than much less destructive rubber pellets. And as an alternative of firing from a more secure distance and pointing towards the decrease extremities of protesters, he says, brokers ceaselessly fired their shotguns instantly at them from quick vary.

“It was once more or less surprising to me,” Muñoz tells NPR.

Left: Demonstrators right through the 5th day of protests towards a hike in metro price ticket costs in Valparaiso, Chile, on Oct. 22, 2019. The demonstrations towards metro price ticket costs exploded into violence on Oct. 18, unleashing widening protests over dwelling prices and social inequality. Proper: A rebellion policeman shoots at demonstrators right through protests in Valparaiso on Oct. 20, 2019.

Javier Torres/AFP by means of Getty Photographs


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Javier Torres/AFP by means of Getty Photographs

In the meantime, the sufferers of eye accidents become high-profile symbols of the protest motion, which was once brought about by way of an build up in subway fares however expanded to incorporate requires extra reasonably priced housing, well being care and training and higher get entry to to first rate jobs and pensions. One of the vital sufferers, Fabiola Campillai — who misplaced sight completely in each eyes after being hit within the face with a tear fuel canister — was once elected to the Chilean Senate remaining yr.

However as an alternative of denouncing the police brutality, some Chileans categorized the injured protesters “troublemakers” who were given what they deserved, says Diego Leppez, who was once hit within the face with a tear fuel canister that fractured his nostril and left his proper eye blind.

Diego Leppez at paintings in a house growth retailer in Santiago on Aug. 30. Leppez misplaced the imaginative and prescient in his proper eye after he was once hit with a tear fuel canister fired by way of police right through a protest. Protesting for a greater Chile “changed into a actually large sacrifice,” he says.

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Diego Leppez at paintings in a house growth retailer in Santiago on Aug. 30. Leppez misplaced the imaginative and prescient in his proper eye after he was once hit with a tear fuel canister fired by way of police right through a protest. Protesting for a greater Chile “changed into a actually large sacrifice,” he says.

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Survivors of eye accidents are simply identifiable as a result of it is arduous to cover their accidents. Some put on black eye patches or, as when it comes to Sen. Campillai, their look is altered.

Leppez says he has been jeered at within the grocery store and at the streets of Santiago and has been handled for melancholy. Protesting for a greater Chile “changed into a actually large sacrifice,” he says. “In my case, it value me a watch.”

The individuals of Hacía los angeles Victoria have discovered a trail to restoration via tune.

The speculation for the band was once hatched right through Zoom conferences between eye-injury sufferers right through the COVID-19 pandemic. A number of have been musicians and as soon as the quarantines ended, they began jamming in combination.

Hacía los angeles Victoria band individuals rehearse in Santiago on Aug. 31. From left: Cesar Galloso, Andrés López, Miles Camus, Sergio Concha, Vicente Pascal.

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Hacía los angeles Victoria band individuals rehearse in Santiago on Aug. 31. From left: Cesar Galloso, Andrés López, Miles Camus, Sergio Concha, Vicente Pascal.

Paz Olivares Droguett for NPR

The band’s rhythmic and emotional basis is 23-year-old Gustavo Gatica. He was once learning psychology at a Santiago college when the protests broke out. He joined in, however right through probably the most marches, Gatica was once hit within the face with shotgun pellets, leaving him completely blind.

To take out his personal frustrations, Gatica took up drumming after which joined Hacía los angeles Victoria. Remembering that some other protester who sustained a watch damage took his personal existence remaining yr, Gatica says: “It is actually necessary to have a circle of reinforce.”

Gustavo Gatica rehearses in Santiago on Aug. 31. He was once a psychology scholar at a Santiago college when he was once hit within the face with shotgun pellets at a protest, leaving him completely blind.

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Gustavo Gatica rehearses in Santiago on Aug. 31. He was once a psychology scholar at a Santiago college when he was once hit within the face with shotgun pellets at a protest, leaving him completely blind.

Paz Olivares Droguett for NPR

Andrés López, a filmmaker and probably the most band’s vocalists, feels the similar manner. With most of the people, he reveals it awkward to discuss the shotgun pellet that left him blind in his proper eye. However along with his bandmates, he can open up.

“With those guys, it is really easy,” López says right through a smash within the practice session.

Andrés López rehearses in Santiago on Aug. 31.

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Andrés López rehearses in Santiago on Aug. 31.

Paz Olivares Droguett for NPR

Songwriter and vocalist César Galloso provides: “There were a large number of ups and downs, mentally and bodily. However this musical undertaking has helped so much. We perceive each and every different as a result of all of us went via the similar factor.”

César Galloso, 2nd from proper, rehearses in Santiago on Aug. 31.

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César Galloso, 2nd from proper, rehearses in Santiago on Aug. 31.

Paz Olivares Droguett for NPR

The band performs a mixture of genres, from hip hop to reggae to heavy steel. Because it beneficial properties extra consideration, Hacía los angeles Victoria has been enjoying in public just about each and every week and has recorded a number of songs.

However its individuals are maximum pleased with the truth that their protests helped alternate Chile.

For something, the rustic now has a left-wing authorities headed by way of President Gabriel Boric, a former scholar chief who is attempting to deal with one of the protesters’ calls for.

“That is the most important first step,” says Gatica, the drummer.

However there have additionally been disappointments. On Sept. 4, a modern new draft charter — strongly supported by way of the protest motion — was once overwhelmingly rejected by way of Chilean electorate.

That is why, regardless of their accidents, Gatica and the opposite band individuals insist they’ll stay energetic — each on degree and at the streets.



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