The autopsy conducted on Rafael Nahuel, the 21-year-old member of the Mapuche indigenous community who died amid an operation led by Border Patrol destined to evict members of the community from a plot of land they had occupied, determined the bullet that ended his life came from a weapon like the ones used by the state forces.
According to sources consulted by La Nación, the bullet is in perfect conditions to be analyzed and establish what was the specific weapon from which the shot came. Moreover, it was determined there is no chance he could have been killed by “friendly fire,” as members of Border Patrol indicated the members of the Mapuche community used .22 and .380 caliber weapons in the shootout.
The conflict that ended with Nahuel’s life took place last Saturday, when Border Patrol forces clashed with members of the mentioned community who were, at the eyes of the law, occupying a plot of land in Villa Mascardi, in the Province of Río Negro. The Mapuches, on their end, claim they had recovered a territory that is theirs by historic right.
Security forces had evicted the community members last Thursday, after a judge ordered them to, but eight agents continued patrolling the area to make sure they wouldn’t occupy it again. Police sources indicated the clash began after security forces found a previously unknown precarious building where about 10 Mapuches were hiding. “First, rocks were thrown, and then there was a shootout between both camps,” police sources said.
Even though security forces claim they opened fire in self-defense, the bullet’s trajectory from the bullet that Killed Nahuel shows that he was shot when he had his back turned on them. Members of his community took his body inside the occupied land, meaning the crime scene could not be preserved properly.
After a long negotiation with members of the community who are still in the plot of land, judicial officials were able to enter the area and gathered whatever evidence there is still left.
Justice and Security Ministers Germán Garavano and Patricia Bullrich were the first government officials to speak publicly about the events. They defended Border Patrol’s actions and criticized the members of the community, who they called “violent groups who don’t recognize Argentine law, the state or the constitution.” “We don’t have to prove anything. We believe what Border Patrol members told us. The forces were faced by a violent group,” Bullrich said.
Moreover, they criticized the judge in the cause for negotiating with the Mapuches, and said security forces “are not going to take any illegal order, which goes against the rule of law.” “For example an order that prevents them from guarding an area, or one that determines they need to be patted before entering another one,” Bullrich added.
In contrast, a spokesperson for the Mapuche community, Soraya Maicoño, told Infobae she “doesn’t know why this is being described as a clash, as the shot hit him in the back.” “Rafael was going uphill. He was there to recover the land that belongs to his family by ancestral right,” she said.