BUENOS AIRES – Thousands of Argentinians took to the streets of Buenos Aires and other major cities around the country on Tuesday to protest against what they described as “trigger-happy” police officers in their country.
The protesters, which included social organizations and self-described victims of state repression, turned up with posters and slogans in memory of those who died at the hands of the Argentinian authorities at the 5th “Marcha Nacional contra el Gatillo Facil” (“National March against the Trigger-Happy”), a movement demanding greater protection against police action.
“This is the fifth consecutive year in which we gather with relatives and comrades to again take the streets to demand justice for every one of the kids that has been murdered, tortured and disappeared by this repressive apparatus that was never dismantled, that continues to increase its power hand-in-hand with the State, which with total impunity defends and legitimizes the actions of the murderers, establishing protocols that authorize shooting kids in the back if they are considered suspicious,” read a fragment of the protesters’ manifesto.
“Unfortunately, we have to see how every day, more and more fathers, mothers and families are destroyed, as every 21 hours they are killing a kid,” Roxana Gainzos, mother of Nehuen Rodriguez – who died in 2014 after being run over by a police car – told EFE.
Gainzos referred to the latest annual report of the Coordinator Against Police and Institutional Repression, according to which 6,536 people have lost their lives between 1983 (the year democracy was restored in Argentina) and last year due to police repression.
She described how her son was run over by a police car while he was returning from the celebrations of a soccer club and claimed that the authorities erased “all kinds of evidence” that could indict them.
“It’s always the same, they already know how to get these cases go unpunished, where the kids of the humble neighborhoods are worthless to them,” Gainzos added.
Families of the victims such as Gainzos led a demonstration that occupied several blocks of the Argentinian capital during which they recalled the names of the victims of the so-called “trigger-happy” forces.
At a press conference before the march, 1980 Nobel Peace Prize laureate Adolfo Perez Esquivel – who is also the president of the event’s organizer, the Peace and Justice Service (SERPAJ) – called for measures to ensure that cases such as these do not happen in the future and rallied for “another kind of democracy.”
In December 2018, the Argentine government passed a regulation that gave federal forces more leeway in the use of firearms to protect citizens in situations of “imminent danger,” without the need for a first attack by the criminal.
On Tuesday, a 23-year-old boy who was detained as a robbery suspect in the northern province of Salta died while he was being transferred by police personnel. An investigation is currently underway to determine whether the troops had any responsibility, according to state news agency Telam.
One of the most well-known cases in Argentina was that of Juan Pablo Kukoc, an 18-year-old boy who was shot dead by a police officer after a violent assault on an American tourist in the neighborhood of La Boca.
His mother, Ivone Kukoc, told EFE that this was not the way to tackle crime on the street and called for a change in the security system.
“Our disappointment is seeing more and more new people crying about the same thing. This is the second year I’ve come and a lot of people are joining, so every year they’re killing more kids,” she said.