Yesterday afternoon, a protest in the streets of Ituzaingó, a neighborhood in the Greater Buenos Aires Area, escalated to a conflict between police and protesters, resulting in three policemen getting injured and nine locals being taken into custody. Locals were rallying against police’s alleged refusal to take action against kidnappings and attempted kidnappings in the area.
According to locals, there have been two attempts by members of the Royal Windows Circus to kidnap their children, one of which was successful. In their testimonies, they stated that children are often kidnapped for human trafficking purposes, but that the charges they have filed have not been addressed by local police. To protest against this lack of attention, they decided to take to the streets.
The municipal government, on its end, posits that the kidnappings were “staged” in order to “destabilize” the area.
“We have nothing to do with what’s going on here. My dad and I work here in the circus with a lot of employees […] I swear that nobody here would be capable of doing that, it’s insane,” said Emiliano, son of the circus owner, to TN.
“They broke all our trucks, it was insane. Truly insane,” he continued.
Ituzaingó Mayor Alberto Descalzo also questioned the protesters, stating that, “There have been people calling for riots for over a week saying that children are being kidnapped, but no kidnapping has occurred.”
“[The police] is trying to investigate the two claims […] They are working normally, according to what they told me. I support the police because I’m practically its creator,” continued Descalzo.
“I imagine that some sectors are [using this] to incite violence,” concluded Descalzo.
Police claim they haven’t received any reports.
In June, a study released by the National Prosecutor’s Office showed that there have been 133 cases of kidnapping for ransom. According to the study, 73 percent of the kidnappings occured in the province of Buenos Aires: 78 kidnappings for ransom in Buenos Aires Province and 15 in the City of Buenos Aires. In fact, Buenos Aires Province Governor María Eugenia Vidal announced that the provincial government has put into place “civil brigades” to combat the rise in kidnappings. Ituzaingó was included in the list of hot spots where kidnappings are said to occur. However, experts also stated that there was an “invisible number” of people missing because many cases go unreported.
Considering the rising trend in kidnappings and the lack of comprehensive reports, it may be unsuitable for the government to dismiss families’ claims based on there being “zero kidnapping cases” or because of violent incidents in the protest that may or may not be related to locals’ reason for protesting. Either way, it’s clear that their system for filing charges and reporting incidents has to be improved and quickly.