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News > Latin America

Argentina: 1st Anniversary of Santiago Maldonado's Disappearance Marked With Police Brutality

  • Thousands of argentinians marched to remember Santiago Maldonado, on the first anniversary of his 'disappearance.'

    Thousands of argentinians marched to remember Santiago Maldonado, on the first anniversary of his 'disappearance.' | Photo: Estanislao Santos

Published 2 August 2018

As in previous protests in favor of Santiago Maldonado, diverse social and political movements, unions and human rights groups were present, despite political views.

One year after the forced disappearance of Santiago Maldonado, family and friends led the demonstration commemorating the anniversary demanding truth and justice for the Argentine student.

Argentina Marches For 'Disappeared' Activist Santiago Maldonado

Members of several social and political movements, unions and human rights organizations attended the march at Plaza de Mayo in Buenos Aires (May Square, where the government's house "Casa Rosada" is) despite their different political views.

Santiago Maldonado – a 28-year-old fine arts graduate, anarchist and social activist– disappeared in very suspicious conditions on Aug. 1, 2017, in Pu Lof, shortly after he was arrested during a demonstration in support of Argentina's Indigenous Mapuche community. His body was found in the Chubut River on Oct. 19, in a place that had been searched by several security forces seven times.

Maldonado family's main demand is that a "team of independent experts," not linked to the government, pushes forward an impartial investigation about what happened with "the Wizard", as Santiago Maldonado was called by the Mapuche communities he worked with. 

The main speech was given by Santiago's older brother Sergio Maldonado. "The State obliges us to carry out a pilgrimage from the south to the center of the country,  carrying out our pain, in the search for justice and for our right to know the truth," he said stressing that the state institutions are not easing the process to know what happened with Santiago. 

The event was focused on the contradictions and suspicious actions in the case and investigation. "From the Government and some media installed the idea that 55 experts said that Santiago drowned alone and that there is nothing to complain," Sergio said. A banner saying "Do you drown in 60 centimeters (less than 2 feet) of water? Santiago either," was seen at the protests, as a response to the official version of Santiago's death

"The Ministry of Security claims that the same suspect forces are those who then produce sufficient evidence to determine what they did with Santiago," said Sergio Maldonado.

"We want this day not to remain in history as a simple anniversary. We want this August 1st to be the starting point for the construction of unity that imposes the Human Rights' agenda over party or ideological differences. Because Human Rights are either defended or violated," concluded Sergio Maldonado closing the event to remember his brother Santiago on the first anniversary of his disappearing.

Santiago Maldonado's Family Says 'Government is Responsible'

At the end of this event, local media reported repression from security forces against people who were at the Plaza de Mayo for the protest. As has happened in other occasions of this kind of events, Buenos Aires police forces attacked demonstrators, reported NODAL network.

"They unleashed 10 people at us. They beat my legs with the machete, they threw me on the floor, they stepped on my head, they called me dirty, black shit," one of the detainees said.

On another event, in the ND Ateneo theater, where the projection of a documentary about the forced disappearance of Santiago Maldonado was taking place, a group of masked men violently threw stones and destroyed the gates of the theater. 

"While we made the preliminary to enter the Ateneo and see Los Caminos de Santiago (the roads of Santiago). We were attacked  by a gang of Barras Bravas (football fanatics) from the intelligence services throwing large stones that broke the doors of the theater causing a commotion among the men and women who attended the show as in the worst times of Argentina," reported Martin Garcia a journalist and former director of Argentina's State Media.

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