A delegate and four activists from the Unión Tranviarios Automotor (UTA) were arrested this morning, and their homes were raided due to the blockades carried out in 2021 on the Expreso del Oeste company, in La Matanza, for which they are accused of crimes such as minor injuries, violation of someone else’s dwelling, impediment of transportation by land, disturbance of transportation by land, extortion, coercive threats and illicit association.
In one of the protests Esteban Falcigno was attacked, agent and one of the owners of the company, whom in the videos of the security cameras you can see how a mob pushes him, throws him to the ground and attacks him. Even they forced him to delete the footage of the blockade from his cell phone that had begun at the door of the company, in Villa Madero, La Matanza, for unclear claims (they just said they wanted to be received) and with an unusual degree of violence.
The arrests were decided by the Judge of Guarantees of La Matanza Agustín Gossán, from a request the prosecutor Analía Córdoba, who investigated the episodes in Expreso del Oeste for months together with the secretary Andrea Seminara and with the collaboration of director of the Department of Special Cases of the Buenos Aires Police, commissar Marine Flavio.
In the raids, a shotgun was even found at the headquarters of the Western Regional UTA, on which the Justice is investigating its origin and if it was legally registered. While, The defendants had cars registered in their name seized, which participated in one of the blockades.
The detainees are the delegate Carlos Sánchez and the activists Salvador Felipe Strazzeri, Sergio Raúl Gauna, Rubén Alejandro Andrada and Antonio Adrián Bazán, in a case that began after the criminal complaint filed by Falcigno, whose lawyer is Florence Arietto, an expert in union blockades: she also advised the owners of Distribuidora Rey, from San Pedro, whose blockade ended with the arrest of two leaders of the San Nicolás Truck Drivers’ Union.
In the request of the Córdoba prosecutor, it is detailed that on February 25, 2021, between 12 and 5:20 p.m., Some 30 people who were traveling in private cars and in groups, “presumably several of them employees or union members of the UTA”, blocked the two accesses of Expreso del Oeste to prevent the free movement of vehicles and demanded that they be allowed to enter the delegate Carlos Sanchez. Faced with Falcigno’s refusal, A group of activists violently entered the office, pushed the businessman, threw him to the floor and caused secondary cervical and cranial trauma.
I was also on the spot a notary hired to accredit the blockade, who was intimidated by the protesters to the point that they entered his car to prevent him from leaving the place. In the filming this episode is seen and even how one of the aggressors takes some sunglasses that were inside the vehicle, puts them on and leaves the place.
After being attacked, Falcigno, as can be seen in the video, was threatened to delete the images from his cell phone that he had recorded from the lock. “Delete the photos or we’ll take you out and kill you,” told him the group that entered the company by force.
The assailants left after taking a group photo with a UTA flag and the businessman did not file the police report for fear of retaliation. But he did not imagine that months later he would suffer a new lock: On August 27, between 1:50 p.m. and 7:00 p.m., a group of UTA activists -many of whom were the same as the ones from the previous protest- set up in front of the door of Expreso del Oeste to prevent access and exit of vehicles, although in this case several made the protest aboard their private cars. According to the prosecutor Córdoba, they mobilized “to commit crimes against people, freedom, property and security of means of transportation and public order.”
In addition to the attacks he suffered, the owner of the company stated that the first blockade caused severe economic damage had to return the amount of the tickets, equivalent to approximately one million pesos, and even provided the corresponding finding to the Justice.
“There was no specific claim Falcigno told Infobae-. I told them that this was not the way to claim and I proposed to go to the Ministry of Labor to channel a negotiation. I asked them not to block me. But they prefer those mafia managements. They tell you: listen to me or I’ll block you.”
The attorney made the complaint before the Justice last September, when Arietto took charge of the case. He finally did so because the blockades of 2021 were not the first that the company suffered and since the last protests he even felt harassment from the authorities: “There were many inspections. They made me go to the Ministry of Labor all the time. I had a really bad time until I said I couldn’t take it anymore and we couldn’t go on like this.” assured.
“There is no need to behave like mobsters. From the unions they have a lot of advantages and elements that work in their favor”, highlighted.
western express is a family business that has been operating for more than 30 years and, according to their website, “connects the provinces of Buenos Aires, Santiago del Estero and Tucumán, passing through cities such as Rosario and Rafaela”. Now, Falcigno knows that there may be union reprisals. “I know this is not over,” he confessed. I’m risking everything because these people are very powerful. But I prefer to lose everything rather than continue under the orders of these people.