The murder of two young men by policemen in Argentina rekindles criticism of the trigger-happy cases

Agents of the Argentine Federal Police in Buenos Aires.JUAN VARGAS

Argentine Luciano Olivera was 16 years old. Lucas González, 17. These two teenagers died three weeks apart from shots fired by police officers. González was returning from playing soccer with his friends when he and his friends mistook the plainclothes policemen who asked them to stop the vehicle for thieves and sped up instead of braking. Olivera also did not get off the motorcycle before a traffic control supposedly for not having a driving record. In both cases, their actions sparked a manhunt in which security force agents shot and killed the youths. Their deaths have rekindled criticism by human rights organizations against the operation of the police.

“So far this year, with the crime of Luciano, the Provincial Commission for Memory (CPM) has registered 101 cases of lethal use of force. Another police murder, another case of an easy trigger in an emergency context of heavy-handed speeches that legitimize and encourage this type of practice ”, report the organization chaired by the Nobel Peace Prize winner Adolfo Pérez Esquivel. In the past five years, 77% of victims of lethal police violence were under 30 years of age. 83 were minors and 96 were between 18 and 20 years old, according to CPM figures. “Lucas and Luciano are not isolated cases, but part of an immense universe of people killed by the different security forces on a daily basis,” highlights the Coordinator against police and institutional repression (Correpi).

The governor of the province of Buenos Aires, Axel Kicillof, asked the force to “enforce the law, but to enforce the law within the law.” “We are not going to endure and we are going to be implacable with any breach of human rights regulations,” Kicillof warned at the commemoration ceremony for the 200 years of the Buenos Aires Police last Monday.

Due to the death of Olivera, the Buenos Aires Ministry of Security has removed from his position the commissioner in charge of the police headquarters of the area to which Miramar belongs. The episode occurred around three in the morning last Friday, when a police patrol wanted to identify the teenager who was traveling by motorcycle. When he ignored the order to stop, they chased him and shot him. “He ran away so that they would not take the motorcycle from him because he has no registration, they threw him off the motorcycle and killed him,” said Olivera’s relatives in an angry protest in front of the police station that was repressed by the security forces.

The Buenos Aires police have a troubled record. With 130,000 members, it is the largest provincial force in the country and has been plagued by numerous cases of corruption and wanton violence. But the problems are repeated in the security forces of the other provinces of Argentina and the tension has been increasing in recent years due to the rise of speeches – inside and outside of politics – in favor of a strong hand against crime .

Lucas González was killed by police officers from the Argentine capital. The plainclothes officers who chased and shot the car in which he was traveling with other friends after having been playing soccer later tried to make the episode pass as a confrontation and planted a weapon, according to the prosecution investigating the death of the teenager. In the case opened for his death there are six police officers accused of “aggravated cover-up, aggravated deprivation of liberty and ideological falsehoods.”

Just before Lucas’s murder, in the northern province of Corrientes, Lautaro José disappeared after a police chase and his body was found three days later in the river. In the Patagonian city of Bariloche, in southern Argentina, Santiago Arraigada, 16, was murdered by former police officer Luis Díaz, his biological father with whom he recently contacted, according to Correpi.

The mothers of Lucas González, Cintia López, and Luciano Olivera, Judith Aristegui, have come together to demand justice. “They ruined our lives and they are going to pay for everything they did, all those who were accomplices to pay for it. They killed him. I don’t dare to go to the cemetery, I don’t want to know what’s down there. I want everyone to pay for what they did both in the case of Lucas and Luciano, ”López said at a joint press conference on Tuesday.

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The murder of two young men by policemen in Argentina rekindles criticism of the trigger-happy cases