New Security Minister Sabina Frederic said this week the new government will review the investigation into the death of Santiago Maldonado, the late artisan and activist whose body was found in the Chubut River in 2017 after a 70-day search.
Speaking to Radio Colonia, Frederic said “there was a lot of negligence in the operation,” referring to the Gendarmerie’s (Border Guard) actions on the night Maldonado went missing.
The new minister said a report would be prepared that would look into the responsibilities of the members of the security forces involved in the operation.
Speaking Wednesday, Frederic said that she told had told the Gendarmerie that the government would "review the disciplinary actions" taken at the time, though she clarified that "it is not for us [the government] to impart justice."
In addition, Frederic said she would meet with Maldonado’s family, who have repeatedly maintained he was “forcibly disappeared.”
Frederic explained that they opened disciplinary proceedings against individuals involved in the operation, as well as those who were in charge.
“We want to investigate what were the procedures that were applied and prepare a report with the responsibilities of each of the participants,” she explained.
Controversy surrounding Maldonado’s disappearance began between July 31 and August 1, 2017, when the Gendarmerie dismantled a blockade on Route 40 made by members of the Mapuche Pu Lof community from Resistencia de Cushamen, Chubut, and fellow activists.
That night, Maldonado – who reportedly fled from security officials – went missing.
Frederic said she was eager to find out what orders members of the Gendarmerie had been given regarding the operation.
Maldonado’s death in 2017 proved to highly divisive, prompting furore, mass demonstrations on the streets and allegations that members of the government’s security forces had carried out his forced disappearance”
The discovery of his body two-and-a-half months later, just 300 metres from where he had gone missing prompted a subsequent investigation, from which a panel of experts concluded he had drowned, with no sign of violence on the body.
Former security minister Patricia Bullrich has maintained since the controversy began that Gendarmerie officers had any responsibility in Maldonado’s death, saying that Maldonado would still be alive today if he had turned himself in.