Jujuy, Argentina – In the Argentine province of Jujuy, located in the north of the country and bordering Bolivia, recent protests against the project and approval of the constitutional reform and the teacher salary claim turned into serious incidents, in the context of a 2023 election national and provincial.
Since June 5, forceful measures have been taken in opposition to the project promoted by Governor Gerardo Morales, who is part of the opposition alliance Juntos por el Cambio and is a presidential candidate for the Radical Civic Union.
The last Tuesday, June 20, in the Jujuy Legislature, the approval and swearing in of the new Constitution was planned, despite the strong objections raised by educational sectors, state workers and native communities that showed their discontent with the project to modify the Constitution. Provincial Magna Carta, which they described as “unconsulted, illegitimate and unconstitutional”.
A crowd gathered around Jujuy’s legislative building shortly before noon to express their rejection of the treatment of the constitutional reform. In the midst of the protest, the unions indicated that “a group of hooded men managed to infiltrate the protesters and demolished fences, throwing stones” and thus unleashing a series of riots.
In response, Morales ordered the crackdown. The police used tear gas and rubber bullets and a pitched battle broke out around the Legislature and Government House.
More than 110 injured and 40 detainees
As a result of the repression, more than 110 people were injured between demonstrators and police, according to the part of the provincial Emergency Assistance Service, and more than 40 people were arrested and transferred to the prison located in the Alto Comedero neighborhood of the provincial capital.
Mariana Vargas, defense attorney for detainees in Jujuy, assured that “we have a list of 43 people (detained) and there are five more people whose whereabouts are unknown” and denounced irregularities on the part of the security forces that intervened during the protests.
Among the injured is a state worker who was hit in the head by a gas capsule and was left lying on the ground. His companions managed to rescue him and take him to the area hospital, where his state of health was reported as critical. Another municipal employee lost an eye to rubber bullets fired by the police.
The articles of contention of the new Constitution
Among the points of greatest dispute regarding the new Constitution are articles 36 and 50 which, according to the lawyers for the communities “addresses issues such as private ownership of original lands and the development of natural and mining resources, especially lithium, seeking the provincialization of its industry”.
Governor Morales, in a press conference, said that the proposal for both articles was reconsidered, for which reason they were excluded from the project and the old Constitution of 1986 was returned to, at the request of the communities.
Another controversial article is 67, called “Right to Social Peace and Peaceful Democratic Coexistence”, which refers to “the roadblocks and streets and the occupation of public buildings” as a method of protestwhich generated a critical point of social and political conflict, since the last measures of force were with national and district roadblocks.
The workers and the original communities also requested the elimination of said article, as well as the decrees issued by the Jujuy government related to the demonstrations. In this case, there was no change.
On the other hand, social and political sectors criticized the speed with which the constitutional reform was sought to be approved, since only 25 days were allocated for its analysis, and with the majority of the conventional ones aligned with Morales plus the support of the Justicialista Party sector. (peronism) local, the new Magna Carta was approved.
Crossed pointing between political adversaries
Due to the violent confrontations, the government of Jujuy decreed a day off for Wednesday, recognizing the tense situation that the province and mainly its capital are going through.
The province’s trade union centrals issued a statement condemning the state repression and announced that they will continue with the measures of force. Thus, the protests entered their third week. The claims include salary improvements and the repeal of the constitutional reform.
The repression was harshly criticized by various sectors of Human Rights in Argentina and Latin America, as well as by different political parties, who demanded that the government of Gerardo Morales “cease the violence.”
The constitutional reform includes excessive limitations on protest
Due to the events, Juanita Goebertus Estrada, director of the Americas Division of Human Rights Watch, said via Twitter that “we are following the protests in Jujuy with concern. We call for promoting dialogue and avoiding the excessive use of force and violence The constitutional reform includes excessive limitations on protest that contradict international human rights standards.”
The situation in Jujuy continues to generate tensions and conflicts, with accusations between Governor Gerardo Morales and President Alberto Fernández and Vice President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner. Morales blamed them for “feeding the conflicts in Jujuy,” while Fernández and Kirchner urged the governor “to resolve the situation of social conflict that he himself has generated.”
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
The governor of Jujuy pointed to the national government for the deepening of the claims and defended his position based on the results of the last provincial elections on May 7, where his political front garnered 49% of the votes “because the Jujeños wanted to continue in peace and order.” At the same time, the main leaders of Together for National Change came out to strongly support the governor of Jujuy.
Tension continues in the province
The situation in Jujuy continues to be delicate and social tension persists in the province, pending a resolution that will calm things down and find a consensus in the midst of this constitutional reform process and the claims of different sectors of Jujuy’s society.
The Intergremial and the local General Confederation of Labor (CGT) called for a 48-hour strike with mobilization for Wednesday and Thursday. While the Confederation of Education Workers (Ctera) called a national teacher strike for next Thursday after the police repression in Jujuy.
Meanwhile, the assemblies of the native communities that are on National Route 9 in the towns of Purmamarca, Tilcara, Abra Pampa and La Quiaca continue, who ratified the continuity of the roadblocks in protest.