Chilean and international media have recently reported on the horror that the untimely death of Daniel Zamudio has caused to civilized humanity. Who was Daniel Zamudio?
Daniel Zamudio was the second of four children of the marriage of Ivan Zamudio and Jacqueline Vera. He was born in 1987 in the town of San Bernardo, a district located just south of Santiago, the Chilean capital. By the time he was about 13 years old, his family realized Daniel was homosexual. However, he did not openly admit his sexual orientation until age 17.
Daniel’s relationship with his family was good, although not free from conflict with his father who apparently did not accept his son was gay. His father, however, has declared the problems mostly arose because he found Daniel’s overall behavior to be irresponsible. Daniel’s mother provided support and understanding.
In 2003, after his parents separated, Daniel went to live with his mother and grandmother. At age 17, he fell into a deep depression triggered by the suicide of his best friend. Unable to cope with the tragedy, he became emotionally instable, neglected his studies and finally he quit high school.
Until recently in 2012, he was working as a clerk in a Chinese clothing store with the intention of saving some money to resume regular schooling and to take modeling and acting lessons. His goal was to pursue a career in communications and eventually to start a family and become a father.
Daniel regularly attended LGBT (gay, lesbian, bisexual and trans-sexual) oriented nightclubs and more than once mentioned to friends that he had been harassed by strangers when he was leaving the venues.
On March 2, Daniel went to work as usual at 7:30 a.m. He told his family that he would meet a friend in the evening and would be home late. He did not return. On Sunday, his family reported his disappearance to the Chilean Police. They managed to identify him as the young man who had been admitted the day before to Santiago’s Posta Central Hospital. Daniel had been found by a policeman around 4:00 a.m. without ID documents, badly injured and unconscious. He was found in "San Borja" Park which is located along the Alameda, a main thoroughfare in downtown Santiago.
Daniel's injuries were so severe that the medical team at Posta Central decided to place him into an induced coma. His head and body had been brutally beaten. Part of one ear had been cut, his legs were broken and he had cuts resembling swastikas on his chest and back. Several cigarette burns were found in different parts of his body.
After a few days at the Central Hospital, Daniel showed a slow recovery. He was removed from the induced coma and doctors noted some minor involuntary reactions to stimuli. However, on March 19, his condition worsened again after suffering a seizure and he was placed again into an induced coma. Daniel died on the evening of March 27.
On March 28, upon confirmation of Daniel Zamudio’s death, Chilean president Sebastián Piñera, while travelling in an official tour in Asia, expressed his solidarity with the family.
“The brutal and cowardly assault and death of Daniel Zamudio hurts not only his family but all people of good will. I want to express to the parents, family and friends of Daniel Zamudio my deepest feelings of love and solidarity. His death will not go unpunished and it reinforces the government's total commitment against arbitrary discrimination and towards a more tolerant country.”
In the interim, anti-discrimination legislation has been languishing in the Chilean Congress for the past seven years. The proposed law defines illegal discrimination as:
"any distinction, exclusion or restriction that lacks reasonable justification, committed by agents of the state or individuals, and that causes the deprivation, disturbance or threatens the legitimate exercise of fundamental rights established by the constitution or in international human rights treaties ratified by Chile."
The new law intends to punish with imprisonment those "who by any means of public dissemination of any word or action that externalizes a discriminatory opinion, promotes hatred and violence against vulnerable groups, or publications or broadcasts made to promote hatred or hostility against persons or groups because of their race, sex, religion or nationality."
It is expected that the tragic death of Daniel Zamudio may bring the necessary action from those in charge of ensuring that the rights of minorities are protected.