[Ppnews] Bronx Activist Faces Deportation Or Asylum
Political Prisoner News
ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Mon Jan 11 16:57:49 EST 2010
01/09/2010 11:01 AM
Bronx Activist Faces Deportation Or Asylum
By: Dean Meminger
Victor Toro, a Bronx activist, faces deportation next week and could
be called a terrorist for his fight against a Latin American dictator
nearly 40 years ago. NY1's Dean Meminger, who has followed Toro's
story for three years, filed the following report.
Community activist Victor Toro of Longwood, Bronx will soon find out
whether officials consider him to be a threat to the United States.
On Monday, he is due in immigration court to learn if he will be
deported back to Chile or granted political asylum.
Toro's lawyer, Carlos Moreno, said the government wants his client
out and plans to paint him as a terrorist.
"Any mention of the word 'terrorist' will prejudice the judge and
will get in the way of Victor getting a fair hearing," said Moreno.
Toro illegally came to the United States decades ago. In 2007, border
patrol agents arrested Toro in a random sweep in Rochester, N.Y. as
he was traveling back to the Bronx on Amtrak from an immigration rally.
Supporters of Toro say they believe immigration officials will use
secret CIA documents from 1974 to try to prove he is a danger.
"That's one of the motivations of the government in its attempt to
destroy this social fighter that has worked here in the south Bronx
for 25 years, fighting beside the homeless. That is not terrorism,"
said Toro through a translator.
Toro's supporters got hold of the CIA papers under the Freedom of
Information Act. The documents detail Toro's fight against the
military dictatorship that took control of his homeland in a bloody coup.
"An illegal government, a government lead by a dictator, [General
Augusto] Pinochet, which overthrew the democratically-elected
government of [President Salvador] Allende in Chile on September 11,
1973," said Moreno.
The CIA supported the Pinochet regime against its opponents. One
document reads, "It is recognized that small groups of fanatical
leftists could carry out terrorist actions should they be so declined
to do so."
The papers go on to say, "The smaller, extremist faction advocates
immediate action against the government and has experienced personnel
and access to arms for this purpose. This extremist faction is led by
Under Pinochet's dictatorship, Toro was soon imprisoned.
"Now, on April 20, 1974, less than a year of the dictatorship, I was
arrested. And I was in jail for three years, in the concentration
camps," said Toro through translation.
After Toro was freed, he eventually made his way to the United
States. His supporters say if Toro is sent back to Chile, he could be
imprisoned again or even killed.
"To this day we have members of Pinochet's regime who are in power
[in Chile] -- power politically, economically, militarily," said
Gonzalo "G1" Venegas, a local supporter of Toro.
Toro said he has made a productive life in the South Bronx and that
is where he wants to stay.
Rebel Diaz is in full support of Victor Toro.
In 2007, Toro, the community leader and founder of La Pena del Bronx
was arrested in an
ICE raid on the Amtrack train he was coming home in. At this time,
his case seemed to be similar to that of 12 million other
undocumented immigrants here in the U.S. However, as we have learned,
that was not
the case. Toro, also happens to be a founding member of the MIR in
Chile. The Movimiento de Izquerda Revolucionaria or The Revolutionary
Leftist Movement. Under the U.S. and CIA funded Pinochet military
dictatorship, the leaders of the MIR, were the 1st to be targeted.
The leadership, similar to the leaders of the Black Power movements
here in the U.S. were all viewed as a threat by the oppressors because they
were supported by the masses. Due to this they were infiltrated and
eventually assassinated. Even though he was caught and severly
tortured, Victor Toro was lucky to escape alive. However, the
dictatorship declared him dead in the early 80s.
In Chile Victor Toro is considered to be deceased. These were tactics
used by the military regime so that when they did catch him they
could kill him and it would go under the radar. Only that they never
caught him again.
Victor Toro could not get legalization because he didn't exist on
paper! He didn't feel safe going to US authorities either. They were
the ones that funded the dictatorship he was running from! After all,
during this time Chilean intelligence was also active in the U.S.
This is proven in the assassination of Orlando Letelier and Ronni
Moffitt, a U.S. CITIZEN, with a car bomb in Washington D.C.
To understand Toro's case, we must understand the history of U.S.
involvement in Latin America. Since the times of The Monroe Doctrine,
and even before then,it has been an abusive relationship in which
puppet governments and dictatorships have been enforced in order for
corporations to rape the land and resources they lack up North. On
Sept. 11th, 1973 a dictatorship began in Chile that would last 17
years. This mirrored the dictaduras of the same nature in Argentina,
Brazil, and Uruguay and those in Central America in Guatemala.
The democratically elected Salvador Allende's government was
overthrown because he had a socialist agenda and was practicing the
redistribution of land. This was a threat to multinational
corporations like The Anaconda Copper Company. This was a threat to
US economic interests. There was no abuse of human rights. There was
no political prisoners. Victor Toro is being accused of being a
terrorist for being a freedom fighter. What were his acts of terror?
Working with the poor and disenfranchised? Organizing the homeless
into building homes for themselves? The real terrorists are the
supporters of the bloody dictatorship that disappeared thousands of
Chileans. The real terrorists are those that taught torture at the
School of The Americas. The real terrorists are Augusto Pinochet,
Milton Friedman, Manuel Contreras, Guaton Romo, and all the other
torturers that raped women, that devastated young families, that
murdered young students, teachers, workers,etc. By labeling Victor
Toro a terrorist, based on CIA and DINA (Chilean secret police)
intelligence documents, the US government is legitimizing a bloody
military dictatorship. It also is a clear admission of US complicity
and involvement in an illegal and murderous regime.
This case is important because its not just about immigration but at
the same time it addresses the roots of immigration. In 2010 we can
assume that the 12 million undocumented workers have become 20
million. People don't leave their homelands for no reason. People
leave their homes and families and come up North, because U.S.
foreign policy has made conditions in Latin America unlivable. People
migrate North because Neo Liberalism has devastated our homelands and
stolen our resources. This economic model was imposed through
dictatorships like Pinochet's in Chile and is currently imposed
through trade agreements like NAFTA. Is one a terrorist for speaking
out against this?
Victor Toro is a 70 year old man. What threat is he to our society?
On the contrary Victor has been a Bronx resident for the last 25
years and thru his work with La Pena del Bronx, has had a positive
impact on his community. Hundreds of youth have been served food,
culture, and education. He is a champion for the poor.
One would think that under the Hope atmosphere in which President
Barack Obama was elected, that we wouldn't have these type of
persecutions. But let's not forget this is the same government who
just opened up 8 military bases in Colombia. Let's not forget this is
the same government that just sent 30,000 more troops to war in
Afghanistan. The same government that sat still and allowed a
massacre in Gaza last year. The same government that just placed Cuba
on a terrorist list. The same government that sat still and allowed
an illegal military coup in Honduras.
The word terrorism is being thrown around real loosely lately. It has
replaced the "communism" of the 80s as the term used for the common
enemy. Under the Patriot Act and Homeland Security, anyone who speaks
up against poverty, against oppression, against war can be labeled a
terrorist. Half of these recent terrorist cases look suspect. The
majority seem to have informants who seem to be agent provocateurs.
The idea is to spread the message of fear. Its a way to control the
masses. The message is speak out and get labeled a terrorist.
Victor Toro arrived in The Bronx during the 80's. A time when Hip Hop
was growing, A time when the borough of The Bronx was the forgotten
borough. The burned down borough. Victor Toro not only embraced Hip
Hop, but also Spanish rock bands of the young Mexicans arriving. He
created relationships with the Garifuna community of Honduras and
Guatemala. He housed San Romero de Las Americas, a predominantly
Dominican church when it lost its location. If it wasn't for Victor
Toro, Rebel Diaz would not be. It is with the help of La Pena Del
Bronx that we were able to open The Rebel Diaz Arts Collective. It is
with his help that we are able to host Mommas Hip Hop Kitchen. It is
with his help that we were able to have The Can't Stop the Rock Hip
Hop series at The Jardin La Roka. The attack on Victor Toro is an
attack on us all. The same way authorities tried to persecute The San
Francisco 8, the same way authorities assassinated Filiberto Ojeda
Rios. These are attacks on our elders. These are attacks on the
morale of the immigration movement. We are in full support of Victor
Toro. We demand Political Asylum.
Victor Toro is no terrorist he just stands up for the people and
tells the truth. Something the US government and politicians could learn from.
522 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
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