Five years ago, on August 1, 2017, the Argentinian National Gendarmerie entered the Pu Lof Cushamen, 80 km south of the city of Esquel, in the province of Chubut. The Gendarmerie agents unleashed brutal repression against Mapuche protesters and supporters, including Santiago Maldonado, who were carrying out a roadblock of Route 40 due to a dispute over land acquired by the Benetton Group, which they claim as their own.
In their repressive operation against the protest and roadblock, the National Gendarmerie entered the community’s territory. That was the last day that Santiago Maldonado was seen alive.
Those politically responsible for that repression are Patricia Bullrich, Minister of Security of Argentina in those days, and Pablo Noceti, former Chief of Cabinet of the Ministry of Security.
In these five years, the state has manipulated the case to ensure impunity for the perpetrators and those politically responsible for the murder of Santiago Maldonado.
Among the multiple irregularities that occurred during the investigation, the following stand out: adulterated Gendarmerie action logs, incomplete recordings of the operation, the burning of evidence, illegal surveillance of his family’s cell phones, and the lack of analysis of the contradictions arising from the testimonial statements given by the gendarmes, among others.
For two years, the case has been on hold, waiting for the Supreme Court to appoint a judge to investigate what truly happened to Maldonado, due to the delay in the resolution of the case by magistrate Gustavo Lleral.
In an interview with BARRICADA TV, Sergio Maldonado, Santiago’s brother, recalled all the “lies that were told in these years.”
“They are five years of lies and impunity about Santiago’s murder,” he said.
Santiago’s brother also denounced harassment against his family, including from the former Minister of Security. “We even received threats from Patricia Bullrich herself, who summoned people to testify and then threatened them,” he said.
In addition, he stated that the family does not have a comprehensive idea of what happened on the day of August 1, 2017.
“We were able to address different parts of what happened, but to have a total reconstruction we have to go to the place to do it. We need an authorization to do so,” he explained.
“We only have testimonies, which claim that Santiago gives himself up, [the police] take him, and 78 days later he appears in a place which had already been searched at least 3 times,” he commented.
Sergio Maldonado also highlighted that there is a new key witness on behalf of the Gendarmerie, who testified on May 3 at the Prosecutor’s Office. “There is an extremely valuable testimony but there is no judge to investigate. Lleral does not move forward with everything that reaches him,” he argued.
This article was originally published in ARGmedios.