A protest against a new city project at Hospital Borda turned into a violent confrontation with the Metropolitan Police on Friday morning, resulting in more than 30 injuries and at least five people detained.
As reported by psychiatric hospital staff, the clashes erupted after city government workers began demolishing the hospital’s workshop as part of a plan to build a civic centre on the premises.
Ricardo Talabera, of the State Workers Association (ATE) told C5N today that: “The incident began at 6am on Pedriel street when, without a warrant, city workers began to remove the materials from the patients’ carpentry and blacksmith workshops.”
Although Buenos Aires law prohibits armed police presence in psychiatric hospitals, more than 300 police came to prevent hospital staff from entering the workshop while the demolition was happening.
The city’s deputy mayor María Eugenia Vidal said she understands the backlash, but she met with the secretary general of ATE and said he did not provide an alternative proposal.
“The dialogue remains open, but we must continue with this work because the workshop had asbestos, which is carcinogenic,” she said.
Vidal added that the work is to take place “on the land connected to Borda hospital,” and “will not in any way affect the hospital or patients who are hospitalised.”
Details are still emerging, but initial reports say four policemen are being hospitalised with injuries from protestors, and at least 30 protesters were injured.
Many protesters were injured by batons and rubber bullets, including journalists from Clarín and C5N. The Argentine press freedom organisation FOPEA tweeted that they plan to investigate “the repression of journalists by Metropolitan Police at Hospital Borda.”
ATE has called a strike for Tuesday in protest at the police action.
UPDATE:Radio station LaF5Radio has released footage of the confrontation: