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News > Latin America

Mapuche Supporter Missing, Taken by Argentine Military Police

  • Homes were burned, belongings were shattered, and Maldonado, who was shoved into a van, disappeared without a trace.

    Homes were burned, belongings were shattered, and Maldonado, who was shoved into a van, disappeared without a trace. | Photo: Twitter @CFKArgentina

Published 7 August 2017

Despite his disappearance a week ago, the CELS says that little has been done to find Santiago Maldonado.

Argentina’s Center for Legal and Social Studies is calling on the UN Committee Against Forced Disappearances to take “urgent action for the Argentine State to immediately take all necessary measures to search and locate Santiago Maldonado."

Release of Argentina's Indigenous Lawmaker Expected Imminently

The CELS emphasized that "although the disappearance of Santiago Maldonado happened several days ago, so far neither the Ministry of Security of the Nation nor the Secretariat of Human Rights of the Nation have issued statements indicating their position on the case or any measures they may have taken to find the youth."

Maldonado was visiting the Indigenous community which supports the Cushamen Resistance when the village was attacked by the Argentine Military Police on Aug. 1. Homes were burned, belongings were shattered, and Maldonado, who was shoved into a van, disappeared.

"The national government ... has the obligation to inform as to Santiago's whereabouts and to find him," former President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, now a senatorial candidate, posted on Twitter.

"Santiago must be found. And he should be found alive."

Under pressure from human rights organization, the state's federal judge Guido Otrantom initiated an investigation Friday according to standard procedure in a missing person case.

Maldonado's family issued a statement where they said that they feared for the life of the young man at the hands of the military police , who, according to witnesses, took Maldonado.

The kidnapping comes on the heels of an increase of attacks against the Mapuche community which have gone unpunished by President Mauricio Macri, his administration, and the cabinet of the Ministry of Security.

Since last year, the Security Ministry has tried to label the Mapuche RAM organization as a terrorist group, despite the Supreme Court Justice’s ruling against the move previously.

"The national government is responsible and guarantor of the life and physical integrity of Santiago Maldonado. Their inaction is unacceptable."

In Buenos Aires, protests for the release of Indigenous leader Facundo Jones Huala have drawn riot police out into the streets, resulting in three injured persons and at least nine arrests.

Despite calls for his extradition from the prison by Chilean authorities, a release which would only throw the activist into another round of judiciary processes for alleged crimes of terrorism in 2013, Jones Huala remains in detention.

The Indigenous leader was arrested a month ago for leading multiple resistance actions against the Argentine government’s treatment of the Mapuche community.

Jones Huala announced four days ago his decision to begin a hunger strike of eight days, protesting the irregularities in the Argentine judiciary process and his unjust arrest after being detained on the exact same charges last year.

“I was already tried last year for this," insists the activist. "The Argentine state wants to send me to Chile and the solution of that country to the Mapuche conflict is prison or death. This year there were two deaths in Chile from land conflict and here, one of the judge's secretaries told me that he used my case to teach at the faculty. They play with my freedom."

"We demand to the government find Santiago Maldonado, who disappeared on 1/8. Witnesses confirm that military police hit him and took him."

Jones Huala explained that the government seeks to silence Mapuche demands through bureaucracy and that justice is one sided, serving the rich and using the poor.

"They want to silence us, to have us remain submissive in the tricky game of bureaucracy and false and hypocritical bourgeois legality, laws they do not hesitate to break when the rich orders it, there the judges forget the rule of law, becoming kidnappers and lackeys of landowners and entrepreneurs," he added.

”We are tired of the oppression, the (government’s) ability to take the land, kill us and stop us when they want. My cry of resistance generated some hope in the people who began to mobilize to recover their lands,” the activist said from inside the Esquel Penitentiary.

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