Gay Man Brutally Attacked in Chilean Capital Dies

by Michael K. Lavers

National News Editor

Tuesday March 27, 2012

A gay man who was brutally beaten in a park in the Chilean capital earlier this month succumbed to his injuries on Tuesday.

El Mercurio reported that officials at the hospital where Daniel Zamudio had been treated said that he passed away at 7:45 p.m. local time. Hundreds of people gathered outside the hospital in downtown Santiago and in other cities across the country in recent days after media reports indicated that Zamudio's condition had deteriorated.

"Daniel Zamudio has passed away," tweeted el Movimiento de Liberacin Homosexual (Movilh,) the country's largest LGBT rights organization, shortly after hospital officials announced the 24-year-old's passing. "His death will not be in vain."

"He is a victim of homophobia, of hate that some have towards those of us who have a different sexual orientation," added Movilh director Jaime Parada, as El Mercurio reported. "For us today he is a citizen's martyr."

Prosecutors maintain that Ral Alfonso Lpez Fuentes, 25, Alejandro Axel Angulo Tapia, 26, Patricio Ivn Ahumada Garay, 25, and Fabin Alexis Mora Mora, 19, brutally attacked Zamudio in a downtown Santiago park on March 4. The suspects who reportedly called themselves neo-Nazis allegedly struck Zamudio with bottles, rocks and other blunt objects before they cut off part of his ear, carved swastikas into his chest and burned other parts of his body with cigarettes.

The attack sparked widespread outrage across Chile and throughout Latin America.

President Sebastin Piera and Interior Minister Rodrigo Hinzpeter met with members of Zamudio's family and Movilh a few days after the attack. Hinzpeter has also urged Chilean lawmakers to pass a law that would ban discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity and expression.

Ricky Martin dedicated the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation media award he received in New York on Saturday to Zamudio. Boy George is among the other celebrities who have spoken out against the attack.

Lpez, Angulo, Ahumada and Mora will likely face murder charges. The four men could face more than 40 years in prison if convicted.

"His death will not go unpunished," tweeted Piera shortly after Zamudio died. "It reinforces the government's total commitment against any arbitrary act of discrimination and towards a more tolerant country."

Based in Washington, D.C., Michael K. Lavers has appeared in the New York Times, BBC, WNYC, Huffington Post, Village Voice, Advocate and other mainstream and LGBT media outlets. He is an unapologetic political junkie who thoroughly enjoys living inside the Beltway.