Who makes up the Puchy clan? The once radical mayor of El Bolsón and recruited unemployed youth from the area; the forces led by lawyer José Luis Bianco, who represents Hidden Lake, Joe Lewis’s corporation; a police officer; and the pivotal figure of Van Ditmar.
The British corporation Hidden Lake, owned by Englishman Joe Lewis, functions as a truly autonomous state, outside of the law, within Argentinian territory, and even has a private army used to attack, with increasing violence, the demonstrators who have tried to gain access to Lake Escondido every February by crossing the mountains, and by the public road from Tacuifí in El Foyel, 60 kilometers north of El Bolsón.
This private army comprises parastatal groups made up of provincial police and ex-police officers, private security agents, rural laborers, and general laborers from Hidden Lake, in addition to largely unemployed youth recruited from the neighborhoods of El Bolsón.
They are organized into two battalions: one operates on Lake Escondido and on the shores of Joe Lewis’s mansion, and the other patrols the Tacuifí road at the intersection with National Route 40. There, they built a gigantic gate with iron pipes used in the oil industry, with barbed wire, permanently monitored by video surveillance cameras using facial recognition.
Every year, in February, activists from social and political organizations from all over the country meet and try to reach Lake Escondido. Their access to Hidden Lake is forcibly prevented, despite the fact that 25 judges from all levels and jurisdictions have ordered the liberation of the entrance, via Tacuifí, for over 12 years.
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The mobilizations are led by the Interactive Foundation to Promote the Culture of Water (FIPCA), in the “March for Sovereignty” to the lake.
Both columns of battalions operate under the orders of Lewis’s front man and manager of his business in Patagonia, Nicolás Van Ditmar. The battalion of irregulars in the lake is commanded by the local Hidden Lake lawyer, José Luis Bianco, who has exhibited violent behavior, for example, in the videos where he appears to be insulting and provoking the protesters.
Bianco is Van Ditmar’s delegate in the most radicalized anti-Mapuche corps, Consenso Bariloche. There, he recruited the media lawyer Daniel Sabsay, who appears on television with false proclamations and tricks pronounced in Van Ditmar’s name.
This year, Van Ditmar reinforced the irregular forces led by the lawyer Bianco at the lake, where they harassed and attacked the activists 24 hours a day. The demonstrators were blinded with floodlights, pelted with stones, and subjected to loud music, just as US torturers did to Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison.
At the access via the Tacuifí road, Van Ditmar put the gangs under the command of the “Puchy Clan,” the name given to a large and ancient family that for a century has occupied, traded, and trafficked in the public lands that surround the road that connects Route 40 with Lake Escondido.
The head of the clan is Víctor Puchy (alias Vitolo), grandson of the founder of the dynasty born from a gang of murderers and rapists that ravaged the area.
Although they claim to be gauchos who defend property, they are far from one or the other: they live off state land and Vitolo, for example, is a small contractor in Lake Escondido doing small-scale construction. He owns road machinery and trucks that he keeps in sheds and workshops, as well as a stud, set up on state land irregularly acquired from his cousins Pablo and José, who are also his lieutenants in the gang.
Pablo and José Puchy exploit the public lands that were left to them after the successive divisions of the large extensions that their grandparents occupied by force a century ago. They extract wood from native forests and raise a handful of sheep and cows, but never put the fields into production. Pablo Puchy was the visible face of the gang in Tacuifí last week.
Both are supported by a handful of “sergeants,” including the brothers Luis and Juan Oyarzo, two of the few landowners in the area. With them are the Chilean Hermann Bilche (alias Balo), who owns a restaurant, and his sister Nubia Bilche, in whose house, on public land on the side of Route 40, Hidden Lake installed video surveillance cameras.
The third figure, who maintains a low profile, is Víctor Avilés (alias Tito), husband of Mirta Puchy (Vitolo’s cousin), who lives by trading small lots. There is also Nancy Mansilla, owner of the Parador Tacuifí, where the heads of the gang meet. Their actions are communicated and coordinated through a WhatsApp group, managed by Van Ditmar under the name Prevención Tacuifí.
A segment of the “soldiers” are young people recruited from the neighborhoods of El Bolsón. Leadership is usually delegated to Oscar Romera (alias Cachito), a former radical mayor (2003/2011) linked to Hidden Lake almost by his DNA. Many remember him for beating up a reporter for the Caiga Quien Caiga (CQC) program in his office, and for having sold public land in El Bolsón to his own wife for mere pennies.
Among the troops, Helvecia Hernández stands out, a policewoman, partner of José Puchy, who in previous marches attacked Fernando Irigaray and the general secretary of the CTA of El Bolsón, Sandra Contreras. She faces criminal charged on top of those filed by the injured protesters Gabriel Berrozpe and Celeste Ferro, among others.
Some members of that mob are the same as those of the night of November 21, 2021, who, encouraged by the municipality, broke up a street march protesting the murder of the young Mapuche Elías Garay, which occurred hours before, and attacked the family of another victim, Gonzalo Cabrera, in the waiting room of the El Bolsón Hospital. Local mayor Bruno Pogliano celebrated the attack and thanked “the gauchos.”
This year, neither Cachito Romera nor Vitolo Puchy were seen with the Tacuifí mobs because they will be candidates in the elections next April—the radical Romera as a councilor in and Puchy as an aspirant to “development commissioner” of El Foyel—both sponsored by Pogliano in an inexplicable alliance that also includes a sector of Peronism, La Cámpora, and Nuevo Encuentro. In reality, Vitolo did appear, but furtively: the candidate was discovered as a horseman with a club in hand, with a wide beret and a shirt covering his face.
(Tiempo Argentino) by Alejandro Pairone
Translation: Orinoco Tribune
kwjorinocohttps://orinocotribune.com/author/kwjogobonito/March 21, 2023
kwjorinocohttps://orinocotribune.com/author/kwjogobonito/March 21, 2023
kwjorinocohttps://orinocotribune.com/author/kwjogobonito/February 28, 2023
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