Standing in front the judicial morgue in the heart of Buenos Aires city, the family of Santiago Maldonado, headed by his brother Sergio, told reporters on Friday they recognised the body found in Chubut on Tuesday.
“We are convinced it’s Santiago,” Sergio said, “we recognised his tattoos.”
For two and a half months, Argentina has been paralysed by the disappearance of Santiago Maldonado, who was last seen on August 1 in the Patagonian province of Chubut, blocking national road N. 40 along with a group of Mapuche indigenous community members. The group was violently dispersed by the Gendarmerie (Border Guard), who fled across the Chubut River towards the Pu Lof de Resistencia, part of what the Mapuches consider their ancient territory.
Maldonado, a tattoo artist from La Plata, hadn’t been seen since, as speculation mounted that he might have been the victim of a forced disappearance. The case quickly became national, and politicized, as both parts of the political spectrum sought to gain an advantage ahead of the midterm elections this Sunday.
On Friday, Maldonado’s brother pointed to Security Minister Patricia Bullrich and the Gendarmerie as those responsible. “The situation doesn’t take away from the fact that the Gendarmerie is responsible, which we are still investigating,” Sergio said.
The autopsy was set to begin Friday, and it’s expected it will help shine a light on the time and motive of Santiago’s death.