BUENOS AIRES – Thousands of people gathered in the Argentine capital on Friday for a rally to demand the safe return of an indigenous activist who disappeared a month ago as police violently repressed a protest.
Grassroots groups, political organizations and human rights campaigners promoted the event to dramatize the case of Santiago Maldonado, whose brother Sergio was set to address the crowd in Buenos Aires’ emblematic Plaza de Mayo.
Santiago Maldonado, 28, was last seen Aug. 1 during a protest by members of the Mapuche Indian community of Lof Cushamen in the southern province of Chubut.
Officers of the Gendarmeria border police broke up the demonstration.
Maldonado’s family cite witness accounts that Santiago was detained and taken away in a Gendarmeria vehicle.
The case has led some to draw parallels with the 1976-1983 military regime, which “disappeared” some 30,000 people in the course of an acknowledged dirty war against the Argentine left.
The current conservative government of President Mauricio Macri, whose industrialist father prospered under the junta, rejects the comparison.