BUENOS AIRES – Argentina’s President Mauricio Macri expressed on Friday his condolences to the mother of craftsman Santiago Maldonado after the corpse found in a river this week was identified as that of his, a gesture that sparked heavy criticism within the family.
“(Macri) seems to me a hypocrite, very low on his part, to pick up and call my old mother, from a private number, saying that he sympathizes, (...) when my mother is not emotionally able to attend a call,” Sergio Maldonado, brother of the deceased, said in statements to television channel TN.
The Minister of Justice, German Garavano, reported Friday night that Macri communicated with Maldonado’s mother to convey his condolences and be at her disposal and stated that the government will continue seeking justice until the truth behind the incident is revealed.
Hours before, Sergio told the press that the corpse found on Tuesday in the Chubut River is that of Santiago.
On Aug. 1, the activist and craftsman had lost his way in an area that – according to witnesses – was just a few meters from where his body was found.
He had that day participated in a protest of an indigenous community that was repressed by the Gendarmerie.
The case, being investigated as a forced disappearance, has generated controversy among the family and human rights organizations suspecting the Gendarmerie, controlled by the government of Macri, is responsible for Maldonado’s disappearance.
In his statements, Garavano sparked further contention by stating he had communicated with Sergio Maldonado.
“He was calling me. I did not answer because I am very sad and hurt, I just answered a message; I think it is very low to be in a political campaign and say that he talked to me when he did not,” added the deceased’s brother.
Since Aug. 1, the disappearance of Maldonado has been the subject of intense speculation and numerous assertions, including a claim that the body was planted in the area, and the first judge presiding over the case being replaced due to objections by the family over partiality.
However, the United Nations, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and other national and international organizations, together with opposition forces, especially those led by former president Cristina Fernandez, have demanded answers from the government.
The Macri administration itself has offered a high reward for those who can provide important information on the whereabouts of Maldonado.