Chilean environmentalist Javiera Rojas was found dead in what seems to be yet another case of femicide, but one that has unleashed a series of condemnations from many of her colleagues and human rights organizations alike to raise awareness about the nature of these crimes.
This crime cannot go unpunished. It is necessary to clarify the facts as soon as possible and determine the corresponding penal sanctions, left-wing presidential candidate Gabriel Boric said on Twitter.
Rojas, a 43-year-old activist, was found dead last Sunday in a building located in the town of Calama, in the Atacama desert.
Violence is permanent in those territories that are sacrificial for women, and can reach such horrific instances as the one experienced by our partner, making visible the cruel alliance that exists between extractivism and patriarchy, the environmentalist Movimiento por el Agua y Los Territorios (MAT) organization said.
The woman's body was found in a ruined building, tied up and with various wounds on her body, according to local media. Two men have been arrested Monday, which would mean the case, however brutal or tragic is solved.
Nevertheless, opposition Deputies Catalina Pérez and Marcela Sandoval, who also serves as chairwoman of the Lower House's Environment Committee, have announced they will get involved in the case and seek a special prosecutor to be appointed to the inquiry.
Senator and former centre-left presidential candidate Yasna Provoste said the activist's death must be investigated in-depth and promptly.
The NGO Global Witness has reported Latin America was the deadliest region for environmental defenders, with 148 of the 212 murders committed worldwide against these activists in 2019.
The murder of Javiera Rojas shows how dangerous it is to be an environmental defender in Latin America. No more dead environmental defenders! Tweeted the NGO Fundación Glaciares Chilenos.
One of the detainees has been charged with femicide after it was determined he had been a romantic partner of Rojas'. A foreign citizen who lived with the couple is also linked to the case.
Between November 25 and 26, Javiera Rojas, in the company of her partner and another man, went to a building on Calle Antofagasta, which, according to Calama Chief Prosecutor Cristián Aliaga was a spot where drugs were sold, according to prior police raids there.
Rojas's lifeless body was discovered on Nov. 28, her hands and legs tied up. The main suspect has been identified as El Romano, a 29-year-old man whose real name has been kept confidential at the request of judicial authorities. A 23-year-old Venezuelan nicknamed El Lucifer has also been placed under arrest.
According to witnesses, El Romano and El Lucifer tied up the victim and started beating her following an argument over money. She eventually died of her wounds. Her body was found after the disclosure that one of the defendants made to a neighbour, according to sources from the prosecution.
One of the defendants has tested positive for COVID-19 and the other is close contact, so neither of them can be transferred anywhere shortly for further questioning.