Help Protect Human Rights Defender From Threats and Intimidation (Argentina: UA 221/16)

Urgent Action
October 6, 2016
Human rights defender and social leader Rubén Ortiz is suffering from constant threats and intimidation related to his support for the rights of peasant farmer (campesino) communities and workers in Misiones province, Argentina.
Rubén Ortiz is a human rights defender, union representative and teacher, a member of the Pedagogical Liberation Movement (Movimiento Pedagógico de Liberación, MPL), the Autonomous Argentine Workers’ Central Union (Central de Trabajadores de la Argentina-Autónoma, CTA) and the Campesino Liberation Movement (Movimiento Campesino de Liberación, MCL) in the city of Montecarlo, Misiones province. A multinational paper factory has been set up in the area which seriously affects the agricultural crops of yerba mate, citrus fruits and cassava, obstructing access to land and work for the campesino communities.
According to Rubén Ortíz, since 26 August he and his family (his wife, Iris Schmidt and his two sons, Lautaro and Facundo) have received threatening calls and messages on a daily basis related to his work within the campesino movement. He has been threatened and intimidated via telephone, receiving up to 60 calls in one day, including death threats. He has been told to stop his advisory work with campesinos and workers immediately, and has received messages such as “we are going to send the guys after you”, “we want your head”, or “we are going to do away with you”. Niripil Luján and Deolinda Arce, two other members of MPL, have recently received similar threats from the same telephone numbers.
Rubén Ortíz has reported several of these threats to the police. However on 26 August police officers refused to take his statement, saying that “the person responsible for that is not here”. It was only after the threats were published on social networks and in local media that they were able to lodge the relevant complaint, which has now been brought before the Second Court of First Instance in El Dorado, Misiones province. Remarkably, Rubén continued to receive threatening calls to his phone while he was in the police station giving his statement, within earshot of the police officers. Two people were arrested on 8 September 2016 for the reported incidents. Notably, the calls stopped during the period of time that they were detained for, and began again immediately after they were released.
Write a letter, send an email, call, fax or tweet:
  • Urging the Argentine authorities to implement the measures necessary to effectively protect and guarantee the physical integrity of Rubén Ortíz and his family, in accordance with their wishes;
  • Calling on them to carry out a comprehensive and impartial investigation into the threats against Rubén Ortíz and his family, make the results public and bring those responsible to justice;
  • Urging them to ensure that human rights defenders can carry out their work in a safe environment without fear of reprisal.

Contact these 2 officials by 16 November, 2016:

Ambassador Martin Lousteau
Embassy of Argentina
1600 New Hampshire Ave, NW, Washington DC 20009
Phone: (202) 238-6400/1  I  Fax: (202) 332-3171  I  Email: [email protected] (Human Rights Section)  OR  [email protected]
Salutation: Dear Ambassador
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