Local NYC and international Chilean activist Victor Toro lost his bid for asylum. He is set to be deported to Chile, a country he left during the U.S. sponsored dictatorship of Pinochet, a country where he is legally dead.
From the NY Daily News :
ICE took Toro to court after he was arrested on an Amtrak train near Buffalo in 2007 for not having immigration papers.
Toro, a longtime advocate for immigrant rights who waded across the Rio Grande in 1984 to enter the U.S., claims he was afraid to turn himself in and request asylum, citing U.S. support for Pinochet’s brutal regime.
A democracy replaced the regime in 1990, but some of the leaders who had Toro tortured remain powerful, his lawyer says. They expelled Toro from Chile in 1977, declaring him dead.
Judge Sarah Burr said in a written ruling that Chile is a changed country and a safe place for Toro.
The Pinochet regime imprisoned Toro because he co-founded the Revolutionary Left Movement, known as the MIR, an anti-Pinochet group briefly labeled a terrorist organization by the U.S.
He was blindfolded for months at a time and had electric shocks applied to his genitals. He twice faced firing squads that shot blanks to scare him.
With President Obama set to visit the capital of Santiago later this month, Toro and Moreno are begging the White House to intervene. They argue the U.S. owes Toro because it tacitly backed Pinochet for years.
I do agree that the Chile today is not the Chile of the 70′s, 80′s or even of the 90′s. I am not familiar enough with Chilean laws regarding how someone with Victor’s legal status would be treated upon his return. That said, that is not the point. The point is that ICE/Homeland Security in blaming Victor himself for not applying for asylum sooner and raising the word “terrorism” against Victor is failing to recognize the role that the U.S. did indeed play in the 1973 Chilean coup and the Pinochet dictatorship that followed and ICE/Homeland Security is failing to recognize the trauma that a torture survivor like Victor likely carries and the role that played in the choices made.
On a more personal note : having met Victor a few times throughout my life, and him being someone my ChileRican daughters know and respect, this turn of events is heartbreaking on some level to us as a family.
Victor can appeal the decision.