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Argentina Riled by Case of Missing Activist

LADB Article ID: 80439
Category/Department: Argentina
Date: 2017-10-13
By: Andrés Gaudín

Since Aug. 1, Argentina has been reliving the most appalling drama in its recent history: the forced disappearance of people, a practice so systematized under the civil-military dictatorship of 1976-1983 that upwards of 30,000 went missing. This time around, there is just a single case, a young artisan named Santiago Maldonado, but the response by today’s democratic state resembles the practices four decades ago of the worst regime in the country’s 200 years of independence. Maldonado disappeared on a cold winter’s day in the Patagonian province of Chubut (1,900 km southeast of the capital Buenos Aires), where members of a Mapuche indigenous community in Cushamen organized a highway blockade to demand the release of Facundo Jones Huala, their lonko (political and spiritual chief). Maldonado was with the group when they were stopped by the Gendarmería, a militarized security force that, according to witnesses, hauled the young artisan off. The government of President Mauricio Macri defends the conduct of the security force and insists it had nothing to do with Maldonado’s disappearance. It accuses the Mapuches, furthermore, of belonging to an “armed anarchist-Trotskyist” organization—the Resistencia Ancestral Mapuche (Ancestral Mapuche Resistance, RAM)—and rejects repeated demands and complaints filed by the UN’s Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), and humanitarian groups such as Amnesty International (IT).

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