More than 100,000 people filled the Plaza de Mayo in the country’s capital, Buenos Aires, on September 1 to demand the reappearance with life of indigenous rights activist Santiago Maldonado. The rally was held to mark a month since 28-year-old Maldonado was last seen.
Maldonado had been participating in a protest with a group of indigenous Mapuche people on August 1 in Chubut province, in Argentina’s iconic Patagonia region. The protest was repressed by Border Force officers, who witnesses allege were seen dragging Maldonado into a van.
Meanwhile, the campaign for Maldonado’s reappearance with life is growing internationally.
As part of this campaign, a public statement has been circulated signed by numerous academics, politicians and social activists from around the world.
The statement reads: “We, the undersigned intellectuals, artists, and social and political movement leaders from around the world, express our deep concern regarding the disappearance of Santiago Maldonado in Argentina, an event that has shaken the South American country and deserves the complete solidarity of the peoples of the world with the family of the young man.
“Maldonado was last seen on August 1, when the Border Force repressed [a protest by] the Mapuche people. The Border Force itself has recognised that it was following “precise orders from the Ministry of Security”, headed by minister Patricia Bullrich.
“We are therefore dealing with the forced disappearance of a person, with the state as the principle culprit, something that directly harks back to what occurred on a large scale during the last civic-military dictatorship in the country (1976-1983), when 30,000 people were detained-disappeared in order to impose an economic plan of neoliberal dispossession.
“The government of President Mauricio Macri not only has to explain what happened, clarifying where Maldonado is as soon as possible, as requested by the Inter-American Human Rights Commission (CIDH) in its precautionary measure. It must also immediately remove minister Bullrich from her position.
“The undersigned support the demand for ‘appearance with life now of Santiago Maldonado’ that various sectors of Argentine society have raised over the past month.
“There cannot be disappeared persons in democracy. There is no democracy as long as there are disappeared persons.
“Appearance with life now of Santiago!”
Among the signatories are: US academic Noam Chomsky; Cuban musician Silvio Rodriguez, former Paraguayan president Fernando Lugo; former Honduran president Manuel Zelaya; Colombian human rights campaigner Piedad Cordoba; Venezuela’s National Constituent Assembly president Delcy Rodriguez; Le Monde Diplomatique editor Ignacio Ramonet; Broad Left (Chile) presidential candidate Beatriz Sanchez; Vice-president of the South American Parliament Daniel Caggiani; and US peace activist Cindy Sheehan.