The two witnesses considered key to the conviction of Milagro Sala in the case known as “de los huevazos” were charged with false testimony, at the request of the prosecutor of the Federal Court of Cassation, Javier de Luca. They are René Orlando Arellano and Cristina Noemí Chauque, who testified in the oral and public trial that took place in 2016, in which Milagro Sala, Gustavo Salvatierra and Graciela López were accused of the 2009 attack against the then senator Gerardo Morales in which demonstrators threw eggs at him.

By El Submarino de Jujuy

“Arellano and Chauque were charged with false testimony this week because the evidence in the case reveals that they lied in an oral and public trial, which is unusually serious,” said Luis Paz, a lawyer who is part of Sala’s defence team and who represented Graciela López in the trial.

Speaking to the programme Día 6 (FM Conectar 91.5), Paz said: “This case had a series of witnesses who participated in the investigation stage and later in the trial, witnesses that both Milagro and the defence team had said had been bought by the provincial government, by the then senator Gerardo Morales, later governor of the province”.

In fact, in the middle of the hearings of the oral and public trial, they told the court that Sala had instigated the protest against Morales. The lawyers for the social leader in that trial, Elizabeth Gómez Alcorta and Paula Álvarez Carreras, presented documentation showing that Arellano was an employee of the governor’s office. “However, this situation had no relevance for the prosecutor in the trial and even less so for the judges,” remarked Paz.

In any case, the complaint was filed. The file went to the Federal Cassation Chamber and the prosecutor of Chamber IV, Javier de Luca, resumed the investigation. “The complaint came to Jujuy and only gained momentum this year,” said Luis Paz.

“With the revelations that we have had in recent days, Milagro presented herself as a plaintiff and we are waiting for the federal court to give us due participation,” said Paz, and he estimated that next week they will have access to the proceedings.

The complaint does not only involve Arellano and Chauque. “We want to collaborate so that this investigation has another path, because they arrived at the trial by the hand of Luciano Rivas and Normando Álvarez García,” said the lawyer, referring to Morales’ lawyer at the time of the trial and the current Minister of Labour and Employment of the province, Argentine ambassador in Bolivia when the coup against Evo Morales was committed.

In that trial, crimes were committed and those crimes were committed by two people, but those people were instigated to commit those crimes,” said Paz. We are going to investigate who the instigators were. Surely both Rivas and Álvarez García have had some involvement, but there must be more instigators in this sense. There are many coincidences.

– What consequences could this development have on the original case?

-That process has already concluded and Milagro’s conviction has been overturned. This is on parallel tracks.

-The last indictment against Milagro Sala was for the events in the Campo Verde neighbourhood. An alleged witness appeared saying that Milagro had paid him to carry out the protests and she went to court to declare that she didn’t know the man. Is there a pattern repeating itself?

-There is a pattern of persecution and there is a pattern of building up cases. But we have to realise that this pattern has also spread to other sectors of society in Jujuy. Recently an opposition list in the Justicialist Party was denounced. And what do they use? A criminal complaint by an unknown person. The serious thing is that our democracy is deteriorating daily due to the commercialisation of politics. Sectors and factors in Jujuy’s politics are buying wills and denouncers with their deep pockets. Political discussion in the province of Jujuy has disappeared. And there are clearly two people responsible: Gerardo Morales embarked on this task in 2016 and Rubén Rivarola is clearly continuing it.

-This Saturday a communiqué was released by political prisoners in which they warn about the deterioration of Milagro Sala’s health. What are your thoughts?

-The communiqué from the Jujuy political prisoners is part of this tremendous persecution and harassment that Milagro, who is the visible face of the political prisoners in Argentina, is experiencing on a daily basis. The comrades have said ‘enough’, just as Milagro said ‘enough’ in the note with Juan Grabois. Among these comrades are María Graciela López; Javier Nieva; María and Adriana Condorí; Patricia Margarita Cabana, ‘Pachila’, Mirtha Guerrero; Iván Altamirano and Miguel Sivila. These are comrades who have already served two thirds of their sentences and yet the judiciary of Jujuy continues to detain them. These comrades have already paid. I don’t know if this is understood. This is also part of this whole situation of anguish and physical deterioration that Milagro is going through.

-Together with other colleagues, you filed a complaint with the Council of the Judiciary against the current members of the Federal Oral Tribunal 1 of Jujuy. What is the status of this process?

-This case is being processed by the Council of the Judiciary, which recently asked the TOF of Jujuy to send the originals of the case file. There is already a councillor in charge of the investigation and there is movement. But the truth is that putting a stop to this situation has to do with social mobilisation. The pandemic has passed, which has affected us all. The judicial reform that the president was wielding or calling for is not going to be possible because, according to the president, political strength is needed. But I remember that in 2003 Néstor Kirchner took office with 22 percent of the popular vote and reformed the Supreme Court. Clearly, we can no longer wait for the will of political representatives. Trade unions, social organisations and society as a whole have to say enough is enough to this situation. Wages in Argentina and particularly in Jujuy are depreciated. A 12 percent increase for state employees in the province is shameful. We have to take to the streets. If the politicians won’t do it, we will do it on the streets. The demonstration of the social organisations in Jujuy plus the path of unity with the workers’ movement of Jujuy is the response that the people of Jujuy deserve.