In honour of Santiago Maldonado, an event has been organised to protest against the economic policies that have put Argentinean democracy at risk. “La Patagonia Rebelde” is a symbolic occasion that will take place in London on the 1 of August.
How similar are neoliberal democracies to the dictatorships they so fiercely criticise? Even as they advocate for individual liberty these governments are hiding dark secrets of repression, torture and death.
This is the subject being tackled by the organisation Desaparecidos (Disappeared), for example, which reveals that during the military dictatorship around 10,000 cases of forced disappearances were reported.
It adds that in 1978 alone the military itself estimated that around 22,000 people had gone missing. Surprisingly, despite these being the so-called times of ‘democracy’, and with the dictatorship a thing of the past, in Argentina people are still disappearing.
One such case which has become emblematic of the issue is that of the activist Santiago Maldonado, 28, who disappeared on August 1st 2017.
The newspaper VAS reports that on the day of Santiago’s disappearance, 100 gendarmes forcibly entered the Mapuche territory of Pu Lof de Cushamen, in the province of Chubut.
During the bloody operation, the gendarmes fired lead and rubber bullets at women and children, burned objects and detained three members of the community.
It was against this backdrop of violence that Santiago Maldonado disappeared. While the police, backed by the Minister for Security Patricia Bullrich, called into question whether Maldonado was present during the eviction, Public Defender Fernando Machado claimed that the vans used by the gendarmerie had been cleaned before being submitted for checks and investigation.
This, along with other similar actions, clearly revealed this to be a case of forced disappearance.
Maldonado’s disappearance has brought to light further disturbing events and statistics: since the arrival of democracy in Argentina more than 6,000 people have disappeared across the country.
For all these reasons, but above all to mark a year since the forced disappearance of Santiago Maldonado, the organisation Argentina Solidarity Campaign will hold “La Patagonia Rebelde” (Rebel Patagonia).
The event will also seek to demonstrate solidarity with the Mapuche people, who have been systematically subjected to governmental persecution, litigation and repression.
Moreover, it hopes to highlight the need to defend Patagonia from Macri’s exploitative policies and to block the establishment of a US military base in Argentina.
“La Patagonia Rebelde” will take place on Wednesday August 1st from 6 pm. to 8 pm. in the Argentinian embassy, 65 Brook Street, London W1K 4AH.
(Translated by Kit Sedgwick – firstname.lastname@example.org)