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  • Milagro Sala, dubbed President Macri

    Milagro Sala, dubbed President Macri's political prisoner, has been detained for more than a year. | Photo: Tupac Amaru Prensa

Published 27 February 2017

Indigenous activist Sala is suffering an "emotional crisis" and resorted to self-harm in her prison cell, according to her organization.

Argentine activist and lawmaker Milagro Sala had a nervous breakdown in jail and stabbed herself after receiving a set of three new accusations, according to Tupac Amaru, the Indigenous organization she leads.

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The new cases against Sala for "inducement to commit aggravated threats" were opened on Sept. 28, Oct. 6 and Jan. 4, while the activist had already been imprisoned for months.

Last Thursday, Sala attempted to self-harm herself with a pair of scissors at the Alto Comedero prison where she has been detained for more than a year. Sala's legal advisers said that as a result she suffered bruising, but her health is in good condition.

Her lawyers said that the three new allegations against Sala seek to justify the decision of the Jujuy justice system to keep her in custody — as members of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights are soon expected to visit the country — and are part of a plan to hit back against international calls for her immediate release.

While rumours circulated that the injury was a result of a quarrel inside the jail, the head of the penitentiary facilities in the province of Jujuy, Inspector General Victor Morales, denied that Sala was attacked by another inmate, or that she had attempted to take her own life.

Political authorities of Jujuy have accused Sala of embezzlement and alleged she used "authoritarian and violent methods" while running community initiatives and leading social protests. "She stole everything," said Jujuy Governor Gerardo Morales, an ally of President Mauricio Macri.

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Sala was arrested on Jan. 16, 2016 after staging a month-long sit-in against the local government’s neoliberal policies under Morales. She faced charges of inciting crime and turmoil, which were later dropped. Before she could be released, a new warrant was handed down for charges of illicit association, fraud and extortion.

As leader of Tupac Amaru, an organization with some 70,000 members, Sala runs social housing and other community-led projects and has been a key player in organizing the resistance against austerity policies.

The United Nations and the Organization of American States requested last year that the Macri government immediately release Sala. The U.N. Working Group on Arbitrary Detention also said it was an "arbitrary detention."

Sala is also a representative in Parlasur, the parliament of the South America subcontinental bloc Mercosur, a position she has not been able to fulfill as a result of being jailed.


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