ARGENTINA CELS LODGES FOI REQUEST

Mapuches file suit against Security Minister Bullrich

In the wake of Rafael Nahuel's death on Saturday, a Mapuche organisation in Neuquén province claims Bullrich and local authorities committed an abuse of power when they raided sacred land in June.

Family members and Mapuche activists called for peace and respect during a press conference in Bariloche on Friday following the 22-year-old's death on Saturday during a Police raid.
Family members and Mapuche activists called for peace and respect during a press conference in Bariloche on Friday following the 22-year-old's death on Saturday during a Police raid. Foto:Télam

Tensions continue to rise between the Mapuche community and human rights groups on the one hand, and the national government and security forces on the other, in the wake of the death of 22-year-old Mapuche man Rafael Nahuel.

The Confederation of Mapuches of Neuquén yesterday filed a criminal complaint against Security Minister Patricia Bullrich, judge Gustavo Villanueva and prosecutor Silva Little, on charges of abuse of power.

The indigenous rights organisation accused them of participating in an illegal police raid on “community land without the required legal authorisation” between June 21 and June 22 near Loma Campana, the Rio Negro newspaper reported.

The raid received little public attention at the time but yesterday caught the attention of the media as investigations continued into a raid last Saturday which led to the death of 22-year-old Nahuel and the arrest and alleged torture of fellow Mapuches who had seized land near Villa Mascardi, near Bariloche, which they claim as Mapuche territory.

Contradicting claims have generated intrigue and concern into precisely what happened the day of the raid.

The government has given the Police “the benefit of the doubt”, according to Vice-president Gabriella Michetti, who yesterday stood by her claims by asserting the Police “were attacked”.

Lawyers say Nahuel was shot from behind. The autopsy on his body showed no signs of gun powder on his hands.

Meanwhile, Sonia Ivanoff, the lawyer representing Lautaro Alejandro Gonzalez and Fausto Jones Huala, the two men detained after Saturday’s raid, claimed the Police beat the two brutally when they tried to resuscitate Nahuel.

Another Mapuche woman was forced to bend down and Police tormented her, she told Tiempo Argentino.

For its part, the CELS human rights organisation filed a Freedom of Information request to the Security Minister for more information about the decisions behind the raid.

BULLRICH,  A CONTROVERSIAL FIGURE

Security Minister Bullrich has grown particularly accustomed to controversy.

In June 2016, early into her administration of the key portfolio where she has earned praise for a heavy stance against drug trafficking Border Patrol officers shot rubber bullets at children in a shantytown while they were practicing for their annual Carnival parade.

Months later, in December 2016, three key witnesses in the so-called Ephedrine affair escaped from Ezeiza prison. In a dramatic and chaotic police chase that lasted days, Bullrich’s authority was seen to be slipping away.

However, President Mauricio Macri has long stood by the controversial minister despite internal disapproval of her leadership style and the scandals that have surrounded her office, most recently the disappearance and death of Santiago Maldonado during a Border Patrol raid on a blocked highway in Chubut.

-TIMES