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Montevideo, November 17th 2017 - 21:17 UTC

Election campaign suspended in Argentina following discovery of a body presumed to be missing protestor

Thursday, October 19th 2017 - 07:52 UTC
Full article 28 comments
A government spokeswoman said Macri’s Let’s Change coalition would halt campaigning for the day after the discovery of a body in the Chubut river A government spokeswoman said Macri’s Let’s Change coalition would halt campaigning for the day after the discovery of a body in the Chubut river
The remains were found near the site where indigenous rights activist Santiago Maldonado was last seen at a tribal rights protest on August first The remains were found near the site where indigenous rights activist Santiago Maldonado was last seen at a tribal rights protest on August first

Major parties running in Sunday’s mid-term congressional election in Argentina suspended their campaigns on Wednesday after a body, thought to be that of a young protester who went missing more than two months ago, was found in a river.

 A government spokeswoman said President Mauricio Macri’s Cambiemos, Let’s Change, coalition would halt campaigning for the rest of the day after investigators on Tuesday discovered the body in the Chubut River in the country’s southern Patagonia region. The remains were found near the site where indigenous rights activist Santiago Maldonado was last seen at a tribal rights protest on August first

Ex-president and now Senate candidate Cristina Fernandez also suspended campaigning, along with other major figures vying for Congress, their campaigns said.

“We have halted all events until there is word from either the judge in charge of the case or Santiago’s family,” a spokesman for Fernandez’s Unidad Ciudadana, or “Citizens’ Unity” party announced.

In the final week of campaigning the Maldonado case has overshadowed the congressional election, which is expected to give Macri’s coalition additional seats but not a majority in either chamber.

Some opposition and rights groups believe state security forces took Maldonado, a 28-year-old craftsman, and allege Macri’s government covered up information on his whereabouts. Macri’s government has said that there is no evidence that shows security forces detained and retained Maldonado. On the day that he disappeared, border police clashed with protesters while dismantling a roadblock that had been erected on Route 40, the main road crossing Argentina from north to south.

President Macri's government offered a reward of almost US$ 32,000 for information on his disappearance. Meanwhile aldonado's brother, Sergio, has called for an independent investigation outside police authority.

In September, thousands of Argentines marched in the capital Buenos Aires to protest the activist's disappearance. The rally was one of many protests in cities across Argentina.

Potential cases of abuse by security forces are sensitive in Argentina, where the 1976-1983 military dictatorship secretly detained, tortured and killed people in clandestine prisons. Rights groups say up to 30,000 people “disappeared”, number which was later downgraded to some 9.000.

The markets will watch Sunday’s election to see if business-friendly Cambiemos emerges as the main force in the crucial province of Buenos Aires which holds 40% of the Argentine electorate. Investors say they prefer Macri’s orthodox economic policies to those of Cristina Fernandez, a free-spending populist who led the country from 2008 to 2016.

While it has dominated headlines, political analysts have said they do not expect the Maldonado case to influence voting. However it will depend on forensic studies of the body found, expected to take several days, but police investigators and criminologists have already pointed out an odd fact: no corpse “climbs” a glacier river rushing down from the mountain. In effect the remains were discovered a mile up the river from where allegedly the incidents between the Mapuche tribe and Maldonado, with security forces.

Categories: Politics, Argentina.

Top Comments

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  • Zaphod Beeblebrox

    This whole case is odd.

    1. This guy was insignificant so why would it be in Macri's interests to abduct him?
    2. I heard that a web site relating to his disappearance was set up before he actually disappeared. Is this true?
    3. The protest about his disappearance has been stoked by Macri's opponents.
    4. The body appears 4 days before the election.
    5. Are 3 and 4 a coincidence?
    6. With the prevalence of cell phones, if he was abducted by security forces why did nobody in his group film it?
    7. The initial reports are that the body was uninjured.
    8. Why the big fuss about this one “disappeared” guy but nothing about the significant number of disappeared under CFK?

    I don't know what happened to the poor guy, but there is neither reason nor evidence that he was abducted by the security forces and the opposition do not have a good track record of honesty. Equally, the opposition does not have a good track record of competency so, if it was all set up to try and damage Macri, any mistakes they may have made (web site? planting the body upstream?) will lead to finding who was responsible.

    I hope that the truth comes out eventually. Ditto Nisman and any who disappeared under CFK.

    Oct 19th, 2017 - 05:51 pm +2
  • imoyaro

    You been drinking whiskey again, Gauchito Drink?

    http://www.adramgooddrink.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/Cut-Spike-Whiskey-Tasting-2.jpg

    Oct 21st, 2017 - 10:16 am +2
  • Marti Llazo

    @reekie: “ .....Maldonado was caught by the security forces, never to be seen alive again....”

    ZB is on top of things.

    The result of the autopsy so far are pointing to hypothermia and drowning. You know, the sort of thing that happens when you jump in the Chubut river this time of year. Or rather, when some out-of-town city kid (who hasn't the foggiest understanding of the conditions here in the patagonia) tries to cross one of these rivers after his participating in criminal activity. Local media are reporting the temperature in the Chubut river at the time at about 2 to 5 degrees C.

    There are about 50 specialists involved in the autopsy, including those approved by the Santiasco family. The reports released to the media, as ZB indicated, show no evidence of violence.

    The earlier appearance of the body having been planted has been explained by the forensic specialists: drowned bodies often sink, and over time bloat and surface.

    Leading us to remember once again that reekie is simply full of shite.

    Oct 22nd, 2017 - 12:06 am +2
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