Santiago Maldonado was last seen at a protest organized by the Ancestral Mapuche Resistance to demand the release of its leader Facundo Jones Huala, on August 1 in Patagonia.
No one knows exactly what time it was, or can describe what he was wearing that Tuesday. The only thing that is known about Santiago before he was forcibly disappeared is that he worked as a artisan and was an active supporter of indigenous peoples’ struggles on the continent, according to the United Nations, which recently issued statement demanding that the government of Mauricio Macri take action to locate the young man’s whereabouts.
“The multilateral organization’s Committee on Enforced Disappearances demanded that the Argentine government take urgent measures to locate Maldonado and identify those responsible for his disappearance, with family members and human rights organizations accusing the government,” reported Telesur.
A month after he went missing, the world is still wondering, where is Santiago Maldonado? With the hastag #Santiago Maldonado going viral and gaining a significant amount of traction in recent weeks with the celebration of International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances, on August 30.
Today, Argentina is grieving over the disappearance of another of its many missing children: of the sons and daughters of the grandmothers and mothers of Plaza de Mayo, who never returned but were adopted by those responsible for the murder of their parents during the Rafael Videla dictatorship.
Now however, decades later, as Latin America once again beings to feel its veins reopen; the world continues to hope that Santiago will return alive. Impunity can never be condoned and much less when the case involves a long chain of injustices.
During the mobilization by the Ancestral Mapuche Resistance – in the Pu Lof community located in the department of Cushamen, Chubut province, Argentina – which Santiago attended, protesters called for the release of community leader Facundo Jones Huala, wanted by Chilean authorities.
Activists were met with repression by the National Gendarmerie, under the direct control of Argentina’s Minister of Security Patricia Bullrich. Huala, who is accused of starting a fire at the Pisu Pisué rural estate in the Chilean region of Los Ríos, was captured by the Gendarmerie, after an international warrant was issued for his arrest.
He is also accused of manufacturing and possessing an illegal arsenal of weapons and violating the country’s immigration laws.
The conflict stems from the indigenous people’s historic struggle to reclaim the lands stolen from them by colonists. Up until his arrest Huala was a senior leader in the community, which has occupied territory belonging to Italian clothing company Benetton, which possess over 900,000 hectares of land in Argentina.
It seems therefore, that Santiago Maldonado’s support for this cause was what led to his disappearance. Let’s hope that this isn’t another of the many cases which go unpunished around the world every day. Justice must be the key word, if the question to the whereabouts of Santiago Maldonado, is to be answered.