Since January 2016 Mrs Milagro Sala, an emblematic social leader of Argentina has been arbitrarily imprisoned on demand of Gerard Morales, governor of the northern province of Jujuy, after a trial based on made up evidence and full of irregularities. Her imprisonment has risen an indignant response of many argentinian and international human rights organizations ; it has been conddemned by the United Nationas Working Group on Arbitrary Detention. Many campaigns for her liberation have taken place in the last 5 years.
Milagro Sala is a woman of indigenous origin, elected in 2015 to the Parliament of the Mercosur. She is the founder of the Tupac Amaru, a social organization very active in the poor areas of northwest Argentina.
Tupac Amaru was founded in the decade of the 1990s, in response to the austerity policies of the ultraliberal national government of that time, that brought an impoverishment of mainly indigenous populations abandoned by the policies of the State. The organization initially dealt with children malnutrition, guaranteeing poor children one meal a day –la copa de leche, a bowl of milk. As the organization grew, it began to fulfill other needs of the local population, e.g., housing, health, education and free-time facilities. It constructed social housing, sport and cultural facilities, all totally absent from the government agenda.. M. Sala and the Tupac Amaru have encouraged the neglected sectors of the population to take their destinies up in their own hands, involving them in the construction of houses, schools and recreation centers. Beginning in 2003, with financing provided by the national government of Néstor Kirchner the organization has created 120 production cooperatives that has built more than 8000 units of social housing, health clinics, schools, free-time and cultural centers. In the resulting wake of respect and admiration, 80 000 persons adhered to the organization, internationally recognized as a model local development (see: https://www.domusweb.it/en/architecture/2011/11/24/welcome-to-the-country-club.html ).
On January 2016, as soon as taking over the governorship of Jujuy, G. Morales arranged for the arrest of M. Sala : on 16 January a police brigade arrested her, on orders of the governor, without a judge order, by officials not carrying the required provincial identification.
On January 29 a judge declared her not guilty of the charges under which she was detained (namely, the exercise of the right to demonstrate), but on an unusual brief delay kept her under arrest on new charges raised after her detention. At no point her immunity as an electer member of the Parliament of the Mercosur was recognized. G. Morales has systematically ignored the numerous denunciations of these illegal practices done by various organizations the all over the world, thus placing Argentina in fault vis-a-vis the human rights treaties that the country has signed and commited to respect. Later, G. Morales restructured the judicial system of his province to make it fit his political aims. The case of M. Sala is a vivid example of the use of lawfare to persecute political oponents. Social organizations and investigation journalists have accused his government of being a part of a system of corruption and conflict of interests, of fraudulent use of social funds, and of real state speculation, among other things.
Today, in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemia, of all atempts to destroy it, and of the imprisonment of its leader, the Tupac Amaru continues its action of aiding those most in need. As in the darkest hours of our history, Tupac Amaru maintains its collective organization and brings food to confined families.
With this e-mail we aim at sounding an alert about the grave situation in the province of Jujuy. The Appendix below describes the action taken by international organizations and by ACAF to obtain the liberation of M. Sala, and gives a summary of the irregularities of her trial.
We remain at your disposal for a more detailed explanation.
Actions by international organizations for the liberation of Milagro Sala.
· The United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (OHCHR) examined the case of M. Sala and, in an analysis of 156 points, determined that her detention was arbitrary and abusive. Due to Argentina’s ratification of the international treaties on human rights, this pronouncement should have obliged the government of M. Macri to liberate her without delay. His government never replied.
· The Interamerican Court on Human Rights.
· Amnesty International.
and other organisations and distinguished personalities of the field of human rights, as well as 27 members of the European Parliament have demanded the liberation of M. Sala :hHYPERLINK "https://www.elcorreo.eu.org/Des-Eurodeputes-demandent-a-Macri-de-s-expliquer-sur-la-"ttps://www.HYPERLINK "https://www.elcorreo.eu.org/Des-Eurodeputes-demandent-a-Macri-de-s-expliquer-sur-la-"elcorreo.eu.org/Des-Eurodeputes-demandent-a-Macri-de-s-expliquer-sur-la-detencion-de-Milagro-Sala without getting a response.
· The Organisation of American States (OAS) demanded the liberation of M. Sala praising her social work. It attested that she had used her legal right to demonstrate.
hHYPERLINK "https://www.cels.org.ar/web/2016/11/el-secretario-general-de-la-oea-afirma-que-milagro-sala-"ttps://wwwHYPERLINK "https://www.cels.org.ar/web/2016/11/el-secretario-general-de-la-oea-afirma-que-milagro-sala-".HYPERLINK "https://www.cels.org.ar/web/2016/11/el-secretario-general-de-la-oea-afirma-que-milagro-sala-"cels.org.ar/web/2016/11/el-secretario-general-de-la-oea-afirma-que-milagro-sala-debe-ser-liberada-de-inmediato/
Actions by ACAF in France for justice for Milagro Sala.
· ACAF has led campaigns of petitions and organized public rallies for her liberation and that of other members of social organizations under arrest in Jujuy.
· During a visit to Paris by Mr Claudio Avruj, State Secretary for Human Rights in the government of Mauricio Macri, several organisations for the defense of human rights --including Amnesty International and France-Amérique Latine-- demanded to meet him. On that occasion a petition with hundreds of signatures was handed to him, demanding the argentinian government to obey to the pronouncement of the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention in the case of M. Sala. M. Macri’s government never acted in consequence.
· ACAF helped the writer Alicia Dujovne Ortiz to carry out an « in situ » investigation of the case and the work of M. Sala. The book « Milagro Sala, l’étincelle d’un peuple » --published in France under the editorship of Des Femmes-Antoinette Fouque, Paris-- gives a detailed account of this investigation.
· ACAF has solicited the Mayor of Paris, Mrs Anne Hidalgo, to declare Milagro Sala honorary citizen of France’s capital city.
Irregularities in the court case against Milagro Sala; an example of lawfare in action.
As soon as he was elected governor of the Jujuy province on December 15, 2015, G. Morales mobilized a corps of gendarmes to prevent demonstrations by the Tupac Amaru. Due to the urgency of his call a convoy transporting them drove through side roads in pitiful state; one of its vehicles fell in a precipice, bringing 42 gendarmes to death.
In the month of his election G. Morales pressed the provincial parliament to enlarge the province’s Supreme Court of Justice from 5 to 9 members. The request was passed within 5 days with the votes of (only) Morales’ partisans. Immediately after Morales appointed to the new posts some of the legislators of his party that voted the enlargement of the court, and placed members of their families in key posts of the province’s judicial system. He has been accused of employing those means of pressure to intimidate his political opponents and to cancel the professional habilitation of lawyers opposed to the enlargement of the Supreme Court. All this conforms a panorama of maneuvers aimed at controling the local judicial system, to have it at his feet.
The national senator for Jujuy, Guillermo Snopek, has filled a project of federal intervention of the province’s judicial system, denouncing a series of institutional irregularities of a particularly grave character. (See : hHYPERLINK "https://www.jujuydice.com.ar/noticias/nacionales-6/snopek-presento-un-proyecto-"ttps://wwwHYPERLINK "https://www.jujuydice.com.ar/noticias/nacionales-6/snopek-presento-un-proyecto-".HYPERLINK "https://www.jujuydice.com.ar/noticias/nacionales-6/snopek-presento-un-proyecto-"jujuydice.com.ar/noticias/nacionales-6/snopek-presento-un-proyecto-para-la-intervencion-federal-del-poder-judicial-de-jujuy-47685 )
At first, Mrs Liliana Fernández de Montiel operated as the mastermind of the prosecution against M. Sala. As public prosecutor in the 2018 court case against Sala, she had her condemned to 13 years in jail. The day of the trial she brought the defendant directly from hospital to the court room… in pyjama!. To preserve her dignity M. Sala asked the court permission to dress correctly; the judges immediately ordered her expelled from the room and continued the proceedings. The same evening the prosecutor requested a revision of the judgement, as the argentine laws prohibit the trials in the absence of the defendant; the court refused. Some time later Mrs Fernández de Montiel refused to validate the detention of Mr Eduardo Fellner, former governor of Jujuy and opponent to G. Morales, forcing the provincial justice to liberate him. Ipso facto she turned from prosecutor to persecuted: she was placed under surveillance, her office was requisitioned, and all legal matters related to the case of M. Sala removed from her jurisdiction. Today Mrs Fernández de Montiel publicly denounces her conflicts with the province’s judicial system, demanding, in particular, the annulement of the case against M. Sala; see :
hHYPERLINK "https://www.elcohetealaluna.com/el-juicio-nulo-a-milagro-sala/"ttps://wwwHYPERLINK "https://www.elcohetealaluna.com/el-juicio-nulo-a-milagro-sala/".HYPERLINK "https://www.elcohetealaluna.com/el-juicio-nulo-a-milagro-sala/"elcohetealaluna.com/el-HYPERLINK "https://www.elcohetealaluna.com/el-juicio-nulo-a-milagro-sala/"juicio-nulo-a-milagro-sala/ (23/02/2020)
On 26/01/2020 the online journal « El cohete a la Luna » revealed a conversation where Mr Pablo Baca, president of the Supreme Court of Justice of Jujuy tells the deputy Ana Juárez de Orieta « M. Sala is not in prison for any offense but because the court thinks that, if free, she would be a danger for the provincial government; again, she would organize disturbances, roads blockings, burned tires, etc. ». See : hHYPERLINK "https://www.elcohetealaluna.com/manada-en-llamas/?fbclid=IwAR1PMat07n-"ttps://wwwHYPERLINK "https://www.elcohetealaluna.com/manada-en-llamas/?fbclid=IwAR1PMat07n-".HYPERLINK "https://www.elcohetealaluna.com/manada-en-llamas/?fbclid=IwAR1PMat07n-"elcohetealaluna.com/HYPERLINK "https://www.elcohetealaluna.com/manada-en-llamas/?fbclid=IwAR1PMat07n-"manada-en-llamas/?fbclid=IwAR1PMat07n-UZ5OPxblaapxhYz3wHiwYH4FAgldZ5MB4ErFutVRRZV8Q9s8 (26/01/2020).
It is obvious that the aim of keeping M. Sala and her 10 companions from the Tupac Amaru in jail is to give a strong sign of the intention to dismantle an impressive work of construction of a democratic power, of social justice and of an effective implementation of the rights of the dispossesed people.