[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 
Victor Toro."

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.

Freedom Archives
522 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110

415 863-9977

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