Investigation into the “Napalpí Massacre”
In the last years, EAAF has been asked to participate in an investigation into the violence committed by the state against indigenous peoples in Argentina. In 2018, EAAF took part in the investigation into the Napalpí Massacre, promoted by the Human Rights Unit of the Federal Prosecutor’s Office of the Chaco province and the civil organization Fundación Napalpí.
Investigations into massacres against indigenous populations occurred at the beginning of the 20th century are aimed at contributing to the historical reconstruction of events and the promotion of truth trials.
“Napalpí Massacre” is the name given to the killing of hundreds of indigenous people belonging to the Qom and Mocoví ethnic groups by the Chaco police and ranch owners that took place on July 19, 1924, in Colonia Aborigen Napalpí, an indigenous colony in the province of Chaco, Argentina. At least 700 persons, including women, old people and children, were murdered. According to the historical reconstruction, those who survived the bullets had their throats cut with machetes and axes. It was one of the most significant massacres committed in Argentina during the 20th century.
In 2014, ninety years later, the Argentine state, through its Attorney’s General Office, investigated during four years these crimes against humanity committed in Napalpí colony, and asked for the commencement of a truth trial, since all the alleged guilty persons were already dead. Federal prosecutors of Chaco argued that this killing amounted to a crime against humanity.
Prosecutors also proposed that EAAF take part in conducting forensic anthropological work, including the exhumation of mass graves and the recovery and analysis of remains, in order to scientifically document the information on the victims’ biological profile (sex and age) as well as on their causes of death, and analyze any other evidence that might be recovered.
Within the framework of this process, with the support of social organizations such as Fundación Napalpí, the Asociación Comunitaria Colonia Aborigen, and the Organización Indígena La Matanza, in October 2018 EAAF made a preliminary visit to the area where, according to witnesses, the massacre had taken place and mass graves could be found. This rural area, covering about half a square mile, is located 93 miles approximately from Resistencia, the capital city of Chaco.
During September and October 2019, EAAF started excavation works with positive results. This fieldwork will continue, expanding the search strategies.