Repression in Argentina -- Solidarity needed!

Martin Ralph by way of Hugh Rodwell socvoice at
Sun Jun 2 17:47:45 MDT 1996

I have just received the following request for support and solidarity for
comrades jailed for fighting unemployment in an increasingly repressive

Please respond and spread the request.

Protests will reach Menem by way of any Argentine embassy, or if they're
addressed to him at Casa Rosada, Buenos Aires, Argentina.


Jailed For Fighting Unemployment
Release Panario and Alcides Christiansen Now

The Argentine government of Carlos Menem and the provincial governments,
the police and the legal system of Argentina is escalating its repression.
They are responding to the social problems and the protests of workers
pushed by the crisis and the application of the economic plan dictated by
the International Monetary Fund. The real level of unemployment is 25% in a
country which has practically no unemployment benefit. In these conditions
sectors of workers are resisting and struggling: resisting the closure of
private factories, the loss and deregulation of public sector work and
demanding the payment of unemployment benefit.

Over 300 workers are facing charges brought against them because they have
been active in protests and demonstrations throughout the country.
Meanwhile those who carried out tortures and assassinations as part of the
military dictatorship such as the Captain Astiz, who assassinated the
French monks, are at liberty and not brought to justice. The government is
intent on persecuting and jailing honest workers whose only crime is to
assist workers demands in a desperate social situation.

Horacio Panario and Alcides Christiansen are imprisoned in the province of
Neuquen and Oscar Martinez is charged in Tierra del Fuego. The cases in
Neuquen have become special 'test cases' for the government and the
repressive legal system, with the threat of a possible ten year jail

They are applying laws inherited from the passed military dictatorship,
they are also using a charge called "coaccion agravada" which has
tremendous repressive consequences. It means that any disturbances which
take place on a demonstration, which have been initiated many times by the
police, the organisers are held responsible for.

The province of Neuquen is one of the hardest hit areas in the country.
There is high unemployment amongst the construction workers who are
particularly effected the by ending of public construction. The national
population census for this area showed that 20% of families were without
basic necessities.

In Neuquen, over 1,000 unemployed and their families made a peaceful
demonstration called by the Unemployed Workers Co-ordination. The UWC had
obtained a significant victory, which does not exist in any other province
of Argentina: a subsidy for the unemployed of over £100. But the provincial
government, because of the cut backs demanded by the central government,
decided to stop the subsidy.

A delegation went from the demonstration of 2nd October to the Governors
house in order to speak to the governor, the response was savage. The
workers reacted valiantly in trying to stop the attacks. In this process
some of the police were hurt.

Using these incidents as a pretext they arrested Panario and Christiansen
and order the arrest of Hector Etchebaxter, Jorge Chiguay, Victor Sandoval
and Veronica Barriga.

The charge of "aggravated coaction"  carries a ten year sentence and no bail
was given to those arrested. This law was used by the military dictatorship
against the guerrillas and their supporters. Today the government uses the
same laws against the mobilisations and struggles of workers.

This law is used in an arbitrary way which transcends the normal
judicial processes. The judge has refused to receive the declaration of
Panario or consider the testimony of the defence.

Panario is held under cruel conditions, imposed by the judge. He is alone
in his cell which measures 1.5 metres by 3 metres. The jail is in a small
village 100s of kilometres from the capital where his family and friends
are. In winter this area is usually cut off by snow making it impossible
for anyone to visit, it is difficult under the conditions to visit now. The
judge has refused permission for Panario to be moved to the capital.
Panario is a member of the Movement To Socialism (MAS) and Christiansen was
a presidential candidate for the MAS in the last elections. He was also the
General Secretary of the Construction Workers Union. Etchebaxter was a
candidate of the MST(Socialist Workers Movement) and Chiquay was also a
member of that party.

Persecution in Tierra del Fuego

The province in the extreme south of Argentina is a centre of engineering
and electronics. There repression was directed against Oscar Martinez
Organising Secretary of the Engineering Workers Union, who lead the
struggle against the closure of factories.

On 31 March 1995 in Ushuaia the most southerly city in the world and
capital of Tierra del Fuego engineering workers marched to the capital in
protest against the closing of the factory. The police attacked the
demonstration. This resulted in the charging of Oscar Martinez, Fabian
Magdalena, Angel Valle and Eduardo Setzes.

On the 11th and 12th April the police mounted an assault on the workers
occupying the Continental factory which led to the death of one worker
and numerous injuries and arrests.

The judiciary tried to blame the death of the worker on Oscar Martinez
and if found quilty by the court he would face a sentence of many years.
Sentences already passed have resulted in jail sentences of up to one year
which have been turned into forced labour clearing snow from the streets.

We are asking you to send a post card to Horacio Panario and Alcides
Christiansen to show your solidarity with their struggle.
Horacio Panario
Division de Transito
(Policia de Neuquen - Zapata)
Ruta 22, 8240 Zapala
Prov. de Neuquen

Alcides Christiansen
Unidad de Detencion No 11
Pabellon 5 Celda 4
Parque Industrial
8300 Neuquen

Demand the release of Alcides Christiansen and Horacio Panario
We are asking the trade union, labour movement, human right and political
organisations to demand the release of all working class leaders and in
particular the release of Alcides Christiansen who is on hunger strike and
Horacio Panario.

On 24th May Alcides Christiansen began a hunger strike demanding:

His release and the release of Horacio Panario and the cessation of

The punishment of those responsible for the killing of workers and youth.
The ending of all repression and police attacks on workers.

Please write letters of protest to:

President Menem of Argentina, c/o The Argentine Embassy, 53 Hans Place,
London SW1.

National and International Solidarity

1,000s of signatures and letters protests have already been sent including:
The International Dockers Conference held in Liverpool in February 1996,
Jeremy Corbyn Labour MP, a number of French unions including the Sud-PTT
(Post Office Workers), Lula and Vincentinho of the Workers Party of Brazil,
leaders of the CUT (the TUC in Brazil), Brazilian Oil Workers leader Carlos
Spiz, Marcial Canterio Gen. Sec. of the STS trade union of Paraguay, Dr
Octavio Rodriguez of the EZLN (Zapatists).

The most recent demonstration in Argentina was in Neuquen on 22nd May lead
by the education workers protested for wages and against the labour reforms
of the province. They marched to the governers house and demounced the
unemployment policies and demanded the release of Horacio and Alcides.
Many people have demanded to visit him including: Adolfo Esquivel, Nobel
Prize winner, Rogelio De Leonardis, Sec. gen of the CTA of the north east
region and many other union leaders including from the building workers,
Antonio Alac from the Argentine Communist Party, Nora Ciaponi from the MAS.
Campaign Against Repression In Argentina,PO BOX 7268, London E10 6TX is
also supporting the campaign for the release of the trade union and
unemployed prisoners.

International Socialist League
British Section of the International Workers League
PO Box 9
M30 7FX

Tel/fax 0161 707 1584
email: socvoice at

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