Milagro Sala is an indigenous woman, a social leader and a politician. She is a member of Parliament of Mercosur, elected in 2015 with over 8 million votes. She is also founder of the social organisation Tupac Amaru.
On January 16, 2016 she was arrested on the orders of the newly elected governor of the Province of Jujuy, Gerardo Morales, and was illegitimately deprived of her liberty, thus becoming the first political detainee under Argentinian democracy.
Milagro was participating in a sit-in, which had been organised by Tupac Amaru in order to protest peacefully against the government of Jujuy for the loss of jobs and the interruption of the works that the cooperative was bringing forward.
With a decree, governor Morales revoked the official legal status of the cooperative of Tupac Amaru and suspended all contracts, which in the years before had created over 5,000 jobs. Is Milagro’s arrest part of a plan to destabilise social organisations, to criminalise protests and to eliminate acquired rights?
Milagro Sala was an engaged social activist during the 90’s and the crisis of 2001. Facing widespread famine and misery and in the absence of the State, she got together with other citizens of Jujuy and founded the organisation Tupac Amaru (in honour of the indigenous struggles’ hero against the “conquistadores”). As an immediate response to the famine that was hitting the province of Jujuy they organised the copas de leche (glasses of milk) that fed thousands of children in the most deprived townships.
Milagro had begun to “organise the poor” and that worried conservative forces; critics started to emerge along with threats and defamations coming from big property owners and the media in league with the corporations and those in power.
An arbitrary detention
In mid-January 2016 the social leader was arrested for having exercised the right to protest in Plaza Belgrano of San Salvador de Jujuy in the north-east of Argentina. Together with other social leaders, she was investigated by a public ministry, lead by Mariano Gabriel Miranda, for “instigation to commit crimes.” Miranda was nominated Attorney General of the Nation by decree of the governor of Jujuy.
Amnesty International states that every citizen has the right to obtain a court case with all guaranteed rights to impartiality and an independent judiciary. On the basis of the principle of presumption of innocence, it is the task of the judiciary to verify the charges against Milagro Sala with regard to the contested facts, respecting the rules for a fair and just trial, an absolute right that has to be observed in this and any other case.
At this moment, the case of leader of the social organisation Tupac Amaru is being analysed by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and by other international institutions. On October 28th the United Nations decided that “Mrs. Milagro Sala’s detention is arbitrary” and have subsequently asked “the Argentinian government to release her immediately.”