Protests follow Haitian mother’s death in Chilean police custody

SANTIAGO – Death of a 28-year old woman who reportedly died of a brutal blow to the head after a wrongful arrest by Chilean police has plunged the Chilean capital into upheaval with protests being organized at the police station to denounce racism, xenophobia and negligence by the South American state and its law enforcement.

Joane Florvil died at the Clinique Catholique hospital on Saturday. She was arrested on August 30 this year in an incident where she was accused of abandoning her child for three months. During her arrest, Joane Florvil suffered a violent beating.

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Police in Chile said the beatings were self-inflicted. A special forces helmet was placed on her head, which aggravated the wounds of the young mother.

The report of abandonment of the child is denied by the Haitian community, which explains that Joane Florvil had left the child to the charge of a third person in order to chase and file a complaint against a Chilean who stole her purse which contained all of her documents. The Chilean was supposed to be helping her find a job.

When she was arrested, Joane Florvil tried unsuccessfully to explain her story to the police who refused to hear her, or to ask for an interpreter, as the woman did not speak Spanish.

This constitutes a blatant violation of the Chilean laws which require that the apprehended person must know what she is accused of.

The aggrieved family is working to organize a “worthy” funeral to Joane Florvil and the baby’s father has been granted permission to visit his child who is still being held by authorities.