Argentine activist Santiago Maldonado appears dead
A man holds a portrait of the activist Santiago Maldonado next to the Argentine national pavilion during a protest in front of the presidential palace, on October 19, 2017 in Buenos Aires
The confirmation that the body found in a river in the south of Argentina is the activist Santiago Maldonado, who disappeared on August 1 in the middle of a police operation, this Friday moves to the country, two days of legislative elections.
“We were able to look at the body, what we recognized were the tattoos of Santiago, so we are convinced that it is Santiago,” said his older brother, Sergio Maldonado, at the gates of the judicial morgue in Buenos Aires, where Friday autopsy.
President Mauricio Macri communicated with the mother of Santiago on Friday night, Justice Minister Germán Garavano told TN news channel.
Shortly after, Andrea Antico, sister-in-law of Santiago Maldonado, expressed to C5N the family’s discomfort with the call to Estela, the mother of the young 28-year-old tattooist, because “it’s a bit late.”
“We can not believe it’s so fucked up after 80 days to call today, at this time, we thought it was wrong, and we’re even more disappointed with this,” he added.
Santiago Maldonado had disappeared 81 days ago as part of the repression by the Gendarmerie (militarized police) of a Mapuche protest in protest of land sold to Italian tycoon Luciano Benetton, owner of 900,000 hectares in Patagonia.
After confirming their identity this Friday, dozens of people spontaneously went to the judicial morgue where they lit candles, left flowers and messages of encouragement to the family.
Left parties concentrated in the Plaza de Mayo to demand justice, despite the electoral ban.
The social networks echoed and the hashtag “Es Santiago” happened to lead the trends of Twitter in Argentina.
– The finding of the body –
On Tuesday, during a raid ordered by a judge, a corpse was found on the Chubut River, 300 meters upstream from where Mapuche witnesses said they saw him last, when the activist fled the gendarmes.
The body had the identity document of Santiago Maldonado and took part of his clothes. The family had refused to confirm the identity until they did not have the DNA test, but this Friday recognized it by the tattoos.
“This does not remove that the responsible is the Gendarmerie,” said Sergio Maldonado after confirming the identification.
From the outset, the government has rejected the responsibility of the Gendarmerie but later admitted that there could be some gendarme involved individually.
“Whoever is responsible, will have to assume the consequences of their actions, that is someone from Gendarmería or another person,” said Garavano.
The find of the body on Tuesday convulsed the political scene in full campaign for the legislative elections of Sunday, and the official and opposition candidates, including the ex- president Cristina Kirchner, who aspires to a bench in the Senate, suspended their campaign acts.
It is unclear whether the Maldonado case will have any effect on the ballot box, when polls have so far predicted a positive outcome for the government hoping to bolster its presence in Congress.
– “We do not trust” –
“The circumstances of the body’s discovery give us a lot of doubts,” said a statement published Friday in the portal “Apparition with life of Santiago Maldonado” opened by the family, because that area of the river had already been raked three times.
“We do not trust anyone,” said Sergio Maldonado.
In the statement, the family criticized “the inaction, inefficiency and bias of the previous judge” and the Macri government for “the inexplicable denial of the offer of collaboration of UN experts.”
“No one can get us out of our heads that could have been done much more and much earlier,” he insists.
Garavano considered that “it is a judicial case that was given and took a political dimension, where the government remained in the position that justice should clarify.”