On November 7, 2021, two political activists were given prison sentences in Argentina. Their crime: protesting in a demonstration. César Arakaki, a member of the Partido Obrero (Workers’ Party) and Daniel Ruiz, a member of the Partido Socialista de los Trabajadores Unificado (United Socialist Workers’ Party, PTSU), were sentenced to three years and six months, and three years in prison, respectively. This was the result of their participation in a 300,000-strong demonstration in Buenos Aires in December 2017 against government attacks on pensions. They were accused of so-called “public intimidation.” Actually, however, their arrest was nothing but an attempt to intimidate the movement and criminalize protest. During a subsequent demonstration, a policeman was injured and both of the activists were held responsible for the attack, yet video evidence clearly showed that they had no involvement in the injury, and the policeman even withdrew his complaint.
On April 13, 2023 the Federal Chamber of Criminal Appeals of Argentina will decide whether to condemn or acquit the two political activists.
We urge our readers to send a protest to the court in Argentina. This can be done through this website where you have the option of loading your message directly.
Below is a model letter that you can use, shared with us by the Partido Obrero. You may send it as is, or modify it as you wish.
You may also send a message to the Argentinian embassy in the U.S. at email@example.com, as well as to this email address:
If you do so, also, please send a copy to:
To the Argentine Ambassador and CFCPC (Federal Chamber of Criminal Appeal)
To whom it may concern:
On November 7, 2021, the Oral Court 1, presided by José Feliciano Ríos, sentenced César Arakaki, a member of the Partido Obrero, and Daniel Ruiz, a member of the PSTU, to three years and six months, and three years in prison, respectively. The sentence is due to their participation on December 18, 2017 in a mobilization of 300,000 people outside the National Congress (parliament), when the Cambiemos government sanctioned a law that changed retirement.
On the day of the events, the government — through police repression — tried to curtail the right to social protest. Firstly, on December 14, during the initial reading of the law, the police fiercely repressed the protesters. On December 18th, the police attacked a peaceful demonstration to try to prevent the massive mobilization from remaining in the Plaza de los Dos Congresos.
With the law approved by Congress, the government of President Mauricio Macri used the media to demonize the political militants who participated in the protests. The accusations focused mainly on two leftist militants (from the left groups, Partido Obrero and PSTU), and they were accused of seriously injuring a police officer named Escobar, who was struck on the head with a stone.
During their trial, video footage determined not only that César Arakaki was completely innocent of Escobar’s injuries, but also that the Prosecutor’s Office and the Court had the video evidence from the start. This small victory over the prosecution resulted in the withdrawal of the wounded police officer, Escobar, as a plaintiff in the trial. This left the prosecution against César Arakaki entirely in the hands of the prosecutor.
Both César Arakaki and Daniel Ruiz were deprived of their liberty during the trial and later released. The allegations against them are aimed to create a precedent in the criminalization of social protest and popular mobilization, and, in particular, are used against the participation in protests of political militants.
Thousands of leaders from human rights, social, political, and civil rights organizations have spoken out for the acquittal of César Arakaki and Daniel Ruiz. Among them, are important figures, such as the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo, Nora Cortiñas, and Elia Espen. On April 13, 2023, the last judicial hearing will take place, and a few days later the final sentence will be announced. We join with all others and demand the acquittal of Cesar Arakaki and Daniel Ruiz!