On December 10, 2015 Mauricio Macri became the new president of Argentina, dancing and karaoke singing from the historic balcony where Perón and Evita once stood. In his inaugural speech he stated: “I would like to confirm once again that attention will be paid to everybody. The state will be there, where necessary, for every Argentinian citizen, especially for those who have less (….) New times are approaching: time for dialogue, for respect and for team work, times of construction with more social justice.”
One month later, on January 16, 2016, Milagro Sala, a member of parliament from Parlasur and leader of the social organization Tupac Amaru, was arrested under the accusation of “instigation to commit crimes” for having conducted a peaceful protest. The order came from the governor of the province of Jujuy, a political ally of Macri. Other accusations followed. To the present day, arrests of 11 other members of the social organization have followed.
All over the world representatives of human rights, political, social and cultural organizations have expressed their support for the immediate release of Milagro Sala and the other detainees.
With “Welcome to the Cantri” we want to make internationally known what is happening in Jujuy and in Argentina, beginning with the injustices that Milagro Sala and Tupac Amaru had to suffer and leading to the persecutions which social organisations are undergoing at the moment. The crushing impact of neoliberalism on social organisations that is taking place in Jujuy is symbolic of what is happening all over Latin America. We are facing a universal response which we have seen many times in the course of history: the persecution of people who are organising themselves.
To realize Welcome to the cantri, we’ve been two weeks in the province of Jujuy with a small troupe. We’ve spent some time together with the “tupaqueros” that are still resisting to violence and in three occasions we went to prison where we met Milagro Sala and other political prisoners: Mirta Guerrero, Gladis Diaz, Mirta Aizama, Graciela Lopez. We also met Raúl Noro (Milagro’s husband), Patricia Cabana (ex political prisoner), lawyers and relatives of the prisoners, tupaqueros and delegates of human rights organizations.
Unfortunately, after this firts journey we confirm what we are reporting: there is no a constitutional state in Jujuy and there are eight political prisoners being held illegally with unsupported accusations. In the meantime, their relatives are being aggresively persecuted, trying to scare them with the hope that some of them will state against Milagro Sala. Furthermore, members of the Tupac Amaru organization are or have been already persecuted or threatened. We can say that we’ve never felt completely free to moove and film what we wanted to. From an external point of view, it’s difficult to apreciate the dimension of what is happening, of the constant persecution, a dimension that could be understood only next to the tupaqueros.
After visiting Jujuy we went to Buenos Aires where we were with various personalities and organizations that claim for the liberation of Milagro Sala and political prisoners:
After visiting Jujuy, we went to the province of Mendoza where we’ve spent some time with Nélida Rojas, the Tupac Amaru’s case officer that has been detained together with other prisoners belonging to the oganization with similar procedure to the one applied in the province of Jujuy.
During this journey, we’ve been able to collect many witnesses and to visit the works made by the Tupac. Those were days of great emotion, we came back with squished hearts and with a bigger purpose. We believe that international aid is fundamental in order to make public this situation, to strengthen the diffusion and the denounce of these abuses.
We need your help in order to tell their story and to show it to the world. This is why we have launched this crowdfunding campaign for those who would like to support this cause. You can participate with a donation, organise a collection of funds from others, or simply help by circulating this initiative.
Among Tupac Amaru’s many works there is also “The Cantri”, the symbol for a people’s dignity.
Within a ten minutes’ drive from the capital of Jujuy, Tupac Amaru built a town: “Welcome to the Cantri Tupac Amaru” reads the sign at the entry. It is amazing to see the 6.000 houses, all equal, and on the water tanks the faces of Tupac Amaru, Che Guevara and Eva Perón. There is a health care centre, a centre of rehabilitation for the disabled, a school, several factories (textile, construction, metal), a cultural centre, a theme park, a recreational park with a swimming pool and a copy of the temple of Kalsasaya. Today the factories are closed and empty pools, Today the factories are closed, and empty pools, much of this work has been destroyed, damaged or stopped.
Special thanks to Evelyn Rottengatter and Milena Wronka!