Several dozen people were injured, one of them seriously, this Tuesday, June 20, in heavy clashes between protesters and police in Jujuy, in northwestern Argentina. The altercations occurred while the provincial legislature was establishing a new Constitution that penalizes some forms of protest.
Stones against rubber bullets and tear gas in front of the Parliament of San Salvador de Jujuy. On Tuesday, June 20, violence broke out in the northeast of Argentina during a protest against the approval of a reform of the provincial Constitution, while legislators promulgated the new text.
Social organizations, indigenous peoples and teachers mobilized outside the provincial Legislature building to protest, after it was announced that the oath of the new Magna Carta had been brought forward to the morning hours.
The police repression broke out when activists began to throw stones and Molotov cocktails at the police infantry guard, who repressed the protesters with rubber bullets and tear gas, according to images broadcast on different television channels. A source from the Ministry of Security of the province of Jujuy told the AFP agency that at least 20 people had been arrested.
Local media reported that dozens of protesters and police officers were injured. For his part, the director of the Jujuy Emergency Care Service (SAME) estimated on ‘TN’ television that between 50 and 70 people had received medical assistance, the majority for minor injuries caused by stones or rubber bullets, and that only one person was in serious condition with head trauma.
The clashes occurred after two weeks of demonstrations and roadblocks by various sectors —officials, teachers, members of indigenous communities— in protest against this same reform of the Jujuy provincial Constitution.
What does the reform of the Constitution contain?
The province of Jujuy is governed by Gerardo Morales, a candidate for the presidential elections on October 22, at the head of a sector of the liberal Together for Change, and an opponent of the Government of Alberto Fernández.
A constituent convention of Jujuy approved last Thursday a reform of the provincial Constitution that ensures the right to assembly and demonstration “when they are peaceful and without weapons.” The text also recognizes the pre-existence of native communities and indigenous peoples, but determines that the State is in charge of recognizing their legal status and community possession of the lands.
The new provincial constitution has been rejected in particular by representatives of local indigenous communities, who believe it undermines their rights to their traditional lands and the natural resources of this rural and tourist province, also rich in lithium.
Morales announced on Monday that he was withdrawing two articles on this point to discuss them again, taking into account the doubts of the indigenous communities. But the new text was approved Tuesday by the local legislature in its partial form.
Another controversial aspect of the new text provides for restrictions on forms of social protest, including a ban on blocking roads and occupying public buildings.
The opposition pointed to Kirchnerism for the incidents
The governor of Jujuy pointed out in his Twitter account the Argentine president, Alberto Fernández, and the vice president, Cristina Fernández, as responsible “for the extreme violence that is taking place in the province of Jujuy.” In addition, he posted videos from a news channel showing the incidents.
Does this seem peaceful to you? @CFKArgentina? It is a shame that they finance violent groups to generate chaos in Jujuy. Kirchner groups from all over the country came to participate and encourage the seizure of our streets and burn our legislature: who sent them? https://t.co/DWMJ7LzmlX pic.twitter.com/lFC3U90ZhP
— Gerardo Morales (@GerardoMorales) June 20, 2023
The Argentine president responded on his social networks, saying that Morales “is the only one responsible for having led” the “dear province of Jujuy to this extreme situation, trying to impose a constitutional reform that does not respect the National Constitution.”
You are the only one responsible for having led our beloved province of Jujuy to this extreme situation trying to impose a constitutional reform that does not respect the National Constitution. https://t.co/0W9eBEkUmH
– Alberto Fernandez (@alferdez) June 20, 2023
“A reform that disregards international agreements, does not listen to the original peoples and denies the right to protest,” wrote the Argentine president, who demanded that the governor immediately stop the repression in Jujuy.
For her part, the vice president also responded to Morales’s accusations on her Twitter account: “Take charge, Governor Morales and stop the repressive madness that your own actions have unleashed. What is happening in the province of Jujuy is your absolute responsibility. and you know it”.
Other opposition leaders in Argentina, such as Horacio Rodríguez Larreta, accused the vice president’s supporters of the violent incidents on Tuesday. The presidential candidate and mayor of Buenos Aires tweeted: “What is happening in Jujuy is an example of what Kirchnerism is capable of resisting change.”
This is Kirchnerism promoting violence and wanting to stop change. Since they can’t stop it with votes, they try to do it through violence, but know that they won’t stop us. All my support to @GerardoMorales and the people of Jujuy. They are not alone. pic.twitter.com/mA7imXMIFr
— Horacio Rodríguez Larreta (@horaciorlarreta) June 20, 2023
He also pointed out: “This type of anti-democratic violence is what we are going to find from December 10 when we begin to transform the lives of Argentines forever.”
Reaction of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights
In a statement issued on Tuesday, The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) expressed its concern about the measures adopted to disperse the demonstrations in the Argentine province of Jujuy.
The IACHR called on the Argentine State to respect “the right to freedom of expression”, the “inter-American standards of the use of force”, during the protests and to carry out an “effective dialogue process”.
With AFP, EFE, Reuters and local media