Saturday, December 10, 2022

They dictate historic ruling for indigenous massacre in Argentina

BUENOS AIRES ( Associated Press) — The Argentine justice system ruled Thursday that the State was responsible for the massacre of hundreds of indigenous people almost a century ago while they demanded better working conditions in an unprecedented ruling in favor of the native peoples of the South American country.

For the first time, a trial for ethnocide was held in Argentina for a month in the so-called “Napalpí Massacre” committed against the Qom and Moqoit communities in July 1924 in the province of Chaco. It was a symbolic process, since the alleged culprits have died.

“Declare as a proven fact that the Argentine National State was responsible for the planning, execution and cover-up process in the commission of crimes of aggravated homicide with cruelty and impulse to brutal perversity… for which between 400 and 500 people were murdered” , concluded the ruling of federal judge Zunilda Niremperger.

The events took place in the Napalpí indigenous camp, located in the center of Chaco, which housed indigenous people displaced from their territories by large landowners. Aborigines were forced to work the fields in conditions of labor exploitation and insufficient pay.

“Their living conditions were deplorable, they lived overcrowded without proper clothing, with little and poor quality food. Without medical attention or the possibility of going to school. They were charged for the elements of work and a 15% tax on the cotton harvest, “explained the magistrate. In addition, they were prohibited from leaving the territories and “abuses” against women were frequent.

The repression of the protest “entailed exhaustive coordination, organization, logistics, distribution of roles, mobilization of troops, their transfer and concentration for several days before, a large quantity of weapons and ammunition, in addition to the support of a small plane that carried out intelligence and observation”, according to the ruling, which was simultaneously translated into the Qom and Moqoit languages.

The prosecution had identified then-president Marcelo Torcuato de Alvear as responsible; his Interior Minister, Vicente Gallo; the then governor of Chaco, Fernando Centeno, and police chief Diego Ulibarrie, among others. None of the accused is alive.

“The facts are crimes against humanity committed in the framework of a process of genocide of indigenous peoples. This sentence constitutes by itself a form of reparation,” said Niremperger.

The trial was inspired by the “truth trials” for the atrocities committed during the last military dictatorship (1976-1983) when amnesty laws were in force that protected members of the armed forces from justice until their repeal in 2003.

The judge ordered, among other measures, the publication of the sentence in the Official Gazette of the Nation, the incorporation of the history of the massacre into the educational contents of primary and secondary levels, the construction of a museum and site of memory in the place where the events occurred and that July 19 be declared the national day of the “Napalpí Massacre.”

On the other hand, the Argentine Forensic Anthropology Team was instructed to design a plan to search for mass graves and exhume human remains to be returned to the indigenous communities.

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