Photojournalist and social justice activist Facundo Molares has been officially pronounced dead after being detained during a demonstration against the Argentine primaries last Sunday.
The Buenos Aires City Police Force and City Hall officials were under pressure on Friday after the death of a demonstrator at a protest.
Facundo Molares, an Argentine identified as a former FARC guerrilla fighter, died after taking part in a demonstration with activists from the Rebelión Popular group near the Obelisk in central Buenos Aires.
Human rights groups said Morales was a victim of “police repression.” He reportedly lost consciousness while being pinned to the floor by City police officers.
“Activist, photographer and reporter Facundo Molares died as a result of the actions of the Buenos Aires City Police at a demonstration by the Obelisk,” the Centre for Legal and Social Studies (CELS) said in a post on social media.
Human rights organisation Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo “repudiated the brutal doings of the City of Buenos Aires Police that led to the death of Facundo Molares.”
Molares was a former FARC guerrirlla fighter who had been arrested in Santa Cruz, Bolivia during the country’s election in 2019, which ended in the exile of former president Evo Morales.
His death was confirmed by the Buenos Aires City Hall in a press release, though they did not name the victim.
“Attempts to resuscitate him lasted over half an hour, until he was declared dead. The cause of death is related to a cardiac arrest due to risk factors,” the report stated.
Buenos Aires City mayor and presidential hopeful for the opposition Juntos por el Cambio coalition, Horacio Rodríguez Larreta, said he was sorry for his death in a press release. However, he also fully backed the actions of the police officers.
Soon after his death, television channels broadcast a video recorded at the time of Molares’ arrest. Images showed the man immobilised on the floor, with his hands on his back, by three police officers.
“He’s turning purple, let him breathe,” a woman can be heard saying in the video. “He’s dying,” she shouts, imploring people to call an ambulance.
According to demonstrators, police officers sought to delay his resuscitation.
“We were in front of the Obelisk at the square having a peaceful chat, a meeting about Sunday, about the voting (…) We were about to leave,” Delia Delgado, a demonstrator who attended the rally, told AFP.
That was when “the police approached covertly” and started detaining people, she claimed.
“That’s when the chaos started. We realised afterwards that some comrades were missing. They arrested five. Molares was being held by six officers in a circle, on his back, holding him with a knee on the back of his head. He was already dead, he was on the floor for 40 minutes,” she said.
Demonstrators stayed by the Obelisk and put together a large banner which read: “Facundo was murdered by the State.”
Campaign closing rallies were cancelled amid the commotion about the death of an 11-year-old girl on Wednesday near her school in Lanús.