Police officer shoots a protester in Neuquén province

A police officer shot a union delegate with lead bullets during a protest outside the Labor Ministry of Neuquén province.

A delegate of the Union of Civil Personnel of the Nation, Luis Bastidas, was shot with lead bullets during a protest at the headquarters of the Ministry of Labor of Neuquén province. A police officer guarding the ministry shot him with his service weapon.

This is another incident of Neuquén’s provincial police acting to repress a social protest. On April 3, 2007, teacher Carlos Fuentealba was hit by a tear gas canister fired at close range during a roadblock on Route 22. He died the following day. In August 2013, during a protest against the YPF-Chevron agreement, the police repressed protestors with tear gas and rubber bullets. On that occasion, Rodrigo Barreiro, also a teacher, received a lead-bullet wound and at least 40 people were injured as a result of police action.

It is crucial that national and provincial governments regulate the prohibition to carry firearms for security forces that take part in the protests, as established by the “Minimum Criteria for Action by Police and Security Forces in Public Demonstrations,” effective nationwide since 2011 and ratified by the province of Neuquén.

Faced with grave incidents like these, the national government should send a clear message of condemnation and ratify the validity of those principles challenged by the new protocol for intervention in demonstrations promoted by the national Ministry of Security.