Villa Soldati, Buenos Aires: Violence Quelled With Involvement of Authorities
On Tuesday, December 7, police attempted to evict some 200 families from Parque Indoamericano in Villa Soldati (a neighborhood in the south of Buenos Aires) and at least two were killed. They refused to leave, demanding that the city do something to help them. Section 14bis of the Argentine constitution states that the government shall “grant…access to worthy housing,” and this is being cited in discussions about the situation.
Residents of nearby apartments who have seen villas grow up over the last 30 years are adamant that the squatters leave the park. For three nights running they have set fires on the highway and blocked traffic, rerouting drivers who would pass through the neighborhood. Things got volatile on Thursday after a hearing in which Judge Gallardo announced that the police would have no further involvement in displacing the squatters and that they would be provided with food, water, and chemical toilets.
Around 7:30PM on Friday, a large group of protesting residents rushed the park with sticks and rocks in hand. Shots were fired and one of the squatters was killed. At that time, there were no police in sight. Any vehicle in sight was attacked, including ambulances, police cars, and media trucks who all fled the scene before the murder occurred. We saw bloody youths on television held aloft on the shoulders of friends as they looked for help of any kind.
Shortly after this incident, residents fled to the corners of Dellepiane and Escalada where others had blocked the highway for the second night in a row, setting fires and preventing cars from entering. We saw several motorcycles and mopeds cross the barrier, but no other vehicles.
Saturday at around 5:00PM, authorities arrived. The Infantería (Federal Police), the prefectura (Coast Guard), and the gendarmería (National Guard) arrived to form a barrier around the park. Residents were gathered across the street in the traffic circle and continued protesting.
The authorities did not put a halt to the closing of the highway, the burning of tires, and they were not there when a dark skinned teenager was assaulted crossing under the overpass. Many neighbors are protesting the violence in addition to the overtaking of the park, but they are right beside the ones who would hit a defenseless teenager because of the color of his skin. Trucks of police and some on foot passed through the barrier last night and just kept right on going toward the park.
My boyfriend and I live in nearby Villa Lugano. We were told that last night after we’d gone back home, a truck attempted to pass the barricade with chemical toilets for the squatters and residents ripped one of the toilets off the truck and set it on fire. The truck turned and left.
These are some of the photos I’ve taken over the last couple days.