Political prisoners in Argentina

Hugh Rodwell m-14970 at mailbox.swipnet.se
Sat Oct 12 16:12:52 MDT 1996

This is taken from the web page of Solidaridad Socialista, the journal of
MAS (Movimiento al Socialismo) the Argentine section of the LIT/CI.

URL:  http://www.wp.com/mas





It is a well known fact that the economic and social situation of the
workers is increasingly deteriorating in this country. This is due to the
consequences of the application of the government=B4s economic plans that
affect directly the least protected, fundamentally those who depemd on their
salaries or wages to live.

Under these conditions the workers resist and fight, sometimes desperately
when they realize that there is no answer to their problems. That is why,
all over the country, there are over 300 files of accused people to be tried
and condemned.

The Panario, Christiansen and Martinez cases are just samples of the above.

Horacio Panario has been in prison for ten months, detained in an isolated
cell of a police post in Zapala (near the Andes), Province of Neuquen.

His file is number 37449 titled "Panario Horacio and others for aggravated
complicity and incitation to commit unlawful acts". It is in the Court of
Penal Instruction N=BA 3, where the registered judge is Roberto Albelleira,
who has maintained the accusation of aggravated complicity,  being this the
most severe charge. It would imply a sentence of from 5 to 10 years in

Panario is imprisoned for the following deeds: On Monday, October 2, 1995
there was a rally in front of the Government House of the Province of
Neuquen, called by the Coordination of the Unemployed. The aim was to
protest against the limitations to the subsidy for the jobless of this
province and also to demand that the government should start a plan of works
to give jobs to those that have none.

On that day, Oct. 2, the rally was violently repressed by a special police
body  (UESPO). The crowd, calculated at 700 people, finding themselves in th=
midst of tear gas and repeated blows tried to find a way out causing in
the rush damage to the doors and windows. Just the same they collided with
the police. Very many among those manifesting were women and children,
even babies.

Several hours later, and when a general meeting of the Coordination for the
Unemployed was being held, Horacio Panario, leader of this organisation,
was arrested. Soon after, orders were given to capture Alcides Christiansen,
Hector Etchebaster and Jorge Chiguay, all of them very well known in the
Province and recognized as public figures.

There are many anomalous traits in the trial. Among them: the judge has
refused to receive Panario=B4s'declaration and at the same time he refused t=
right to call on witnesses of the accused. As the trial is at its initial
stage, the next judicial act is the judge=B4s decision on whether the case i=
or is not to be tried.

Because of the serious steps taken against Panario and the other people
processed, which affect the right to organise, the right of expression and
demand, and which are a threat of severe punishments against the leaders of
the movement of unemployed, of trade unionists and politicians, a national
and international campaign has started to demand Horacio Panario=B4s freedom=
the annulment of the order of arrest against the others and an end of trials
and intimidatory actions.

Alcides Christiansen, against whom there was an order of arrest for the
events of Oct 2 in Neuquen, is under arrest since March 20 of this year. His
file is the same as Panario=B4s, N=BA 37449 and bears the same title:
"Aggravated complicity and incitation to commit unlawful deed". It has been
submitted to the Court of Penal Instruction N=BA 3 where Dr Abelleira is the
judge. This judge wants to "set an example" for this is the first time
during a democratic stage that his type of charge is applied against workers
who are fighting, and the meaning is that they, with their activity had
intended to unsaddle the government, and are therefore to be judged as
subversive. If this example of Neuquen justice is taken, a terrible
prececedent will have been established. Anyone resisting the economic steps
taken by the government and the intimidatory steps that are the consequence
of the former would be charged with subversive activity.

Christiansen has said that during these past months he has over and over
again demanded from the judge that the order of capture should cease and
that he should be exempted from prison for "I have committed no unlawful act
nor done anything I should repent". Actually, on that day, Oct 2,
Christiansen took part in the demonstration as a former secretary general of
the UOCRA (trade union of the building workers) of Neuqu=E9n in order to
express solidarity on his and his fellow trade unionists behalf to the
demands of the unemployed who were demonstrating against Governor Sobisch in
the Province=B4s Government House.

Oscar Martinez is a leader of the Metalurgic Workers=B4 Trade Union (UOM) in
Tierra del Fuego. Two trials have been started against him. On May 16, 1995,
the judge Maria Cristina Barrionuevo judged him for "use of violence and
resistance the authority, usurpation and qualified damage". The accusation
refers to the events that took place on March 31, 1995 in Tierra del Fuego.
A march was taking place to protest against the closure of the factory
Continental Fueguina and in order to demand an answer to a petition handed
previously to the provincial government. The demonstrators request that the
governor should come out to negotiate. He refuses. The workers enter the
building of the Government House in order to leave their petition. The
police repressed violently. There are some damages. Then the judge blames
Oscar Martinez and other leaders as shown in the file.

The same judge starts a trial against Oscar Martinez, dated August 15 1995,
charging him with "public intimidation, instigating unlawfulness and
attempts of using force against authority". He is tried for taking part as a
UOM leader in the events of the city of Ushuaia since April this year, which
were unleashed when the police violently disoccupied the factory Continental
=46ueguuina, up to that moment peacefully occupied by the workers in defense
of trade union demands. The police tried to disperse the demonstration; a
brutal repression was unleashed which was filmed by the local and national
television; the workers were ferociously beaten, demonstrators chased and
shot at. Victor Choque was mortally wounded by a police bullet. The workers
merely tried to defend themselves with stones. In this tragic way, Victor
Choque becomes the first worker to be muerdered by the police during
the democratic stage.

Just a few days ago, in the Criminal Court ofthe Province of Tierra del
=46uego, the Antarctic and the Islands of the South Atlantic, there was a
verdict against the workers leaders charged for the events of 31-3-95.
Oscar Martinez was given a year and three month on probation for attempting
to use force against the authority, doubly qualified. Fabian Magdalena, 10
months on probation. Angel Viale, a year and nine months. Eduardo Setzes, 6
months for qualified damage. The trial for deeds that lead to the death of
Victor Choque is in the initial stage.

An International Campaign for the release of the comrades and against the
pusrsuit of Oscar Martinez, is being conducted.

You can e-mail your solidarity to this address -- Mas at giga.com.ar -- or
send it by fax to fax number +54  1 381 2976  (Movimiento al Socialismo,

        Movimiento al Socialismo
        Chile 1362
        (1098) Capital Federal
        Republica Argentina
        Tel.: 381-2718/2995
        Fax.: 381-2976
        E-Mail: Mas at giga.com.ar

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