On November 7th, 2021 a law court in Argentina sentenced Cesar Arakaki (a member of Partido Obrero) and Daniel Ruiz (a member of PSTU) to three and six months and three years in prison, respectively. This vicious sentence arose from their participation in a 300,000-strong demonstration in Buenos Aires in December 2017 against government proposals on retirement and pensions. They were accused of “public intimidation” which is used as an attempt to criminalise protest. During one of the subsequent protests, a policeman was injured, and both the accused were held responsible despite video evidence showing they had no involvement in the injury.
On April 13th a final sentence will be handed down to Cesar and Daniel. We urge readers to send protests to the Argentinean embassies in respective countries and also to the e/mail address published below. Below is a model letter that can be used:
To the Argentine Ambassador and CFCPC
To whom it may concern:
On November 7, 2021, the Oral Court 1 in the charge of 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.
The accusation against the two of ‘public intimidation’ implies the use of a law used by governments against citizens’ mobilizations, whose objective is to curtail the right to social protest, as well as to increase state penalties against those who do.
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 (with the votes of Cambiemos and PJ), 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 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.
The trial went from being an in-person and public trial to a virtual trial by Zoom. Later it became a semi-virtual trial, where the witnesses testify in front of the court, and the rest of the parties were virtually linked, affecting both the right of defense and the publicity of the trial.
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 Plaza de Mayo, Nora Cortiñas, and Elia Espen. 13 April 2023, will be the last judicial hearing 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!
Please address petitions for the acquittal of César Arakaki and Daniel Ruiz to:
The Federal Chamber of Criminal Cassation, Comodoro Py 2002, 1st Floor, Autonomous City of Buenos Aires, Argentina (C1104BEN), and/or by E-mail to:
Please send a copy to firstname.lastname@example.org