It’s all over the news here, so I thought I might as well post about it.
On the first day of August this year, with the motive of a clothing company owning part of an ancestral site of one Native American population near the Argentine-Chilean border, a demostration took place there by members of the Mapuche community, which involved blocking a road, and locals who opposed the government selling those lands. Among them was Santiago Maldonado, a local who was standing there in support of the Mapuche community.
The otherwise peaceful demonstration was met by a display of the Argentine military police, the Gendarmerie, who eventually decided to crush and repress the protesters, many of whom jumped to a nearby river and crossed it in order to not be arrested. Santiago Maldonado was last seen staying on his side of the river, being taken under arrest by Gendarmes. Nothing else has been known of him since.
The government denies any involvement and officials have claimed ‘no evidence’ that he was ever taken under arrest despite several eyewitness accounts. The Mapuche community claims that, since the right-wing government of Mauricio Macri began, repression against them has more than doubled. The possibility of a forced disappearance is taken very seriously, especially in a country like this which has had a dictatorship causing over 40,000 disappearances. Mauricio Macri himself, however, has disputed the official number of disappearances.
The response to the accusations has been felt. Thousands of protestors gathered in Buenos Aires on August 23rd demanding for his appearance, and soon turned into a riot. Jones Huala, a Mapuche leader that is considered a terrorist by the Chilean government (where the Mapuche are also involved in land disputes), said that this is not the first time a disappearance has taken place following a protest; this is only the first time someone who was not a Mapuche had been a victim of it.
On the months leading up to the 2017 mid-term elections, his disappearance has sparked a political turmoil as well. Ex-president Cristina Fernández sent a tweet asking for his appearance.
Any thoughts about this?