Two weeks ago, Chaco expected to have a regular election day today. But the disappearance of Cecilia Strzyzowski on June 1 and the indictment of two former candidates and their son for her alleged murder have turned things upside down. Governor Jorge Capitanich, who is seeking reelection, voted in today’s primaries and told the press that “a police issue can’t be made into a political issue.”
Cecilia Strzyzowski (28) was last seen on June 1, when her husband César Sena (19) picked her up from a relative’s house planning to take her to Ushuaia, where he’d found a job for her. At that point, her family lost contact with them. She has not been seen or heard from since. The disappearance is now being investigated as a femicide, with Sena being the main suspect. Karina Gómez, Cecilia’s lawyer, confirmed the investigation had been changed from searching for a missing person to femicide.
Cecilia’s husband turned himself in last weekend after bone fragments, documents, and pieces of clothing were found at his parents’ properties. Some bones are of animal origin, and the rest are being analyzed.
Forensic anthropologists from Córdoba province’s judiciary, who are helping in the investigation, said today that none of the bones are clearly human at first sight, but they have some doubts regarding certain burnt bone fragments that are very deteriorated from being exposed to the sun and water.
César Sena is the son of Emerenciano Sena, a powerful Chaco piquetero leader — a piquete is a picket line and piqueteros a social movement. He was also running for provincial deputy in today’s primary elections. Marcela Acuña, Emerenciano’s wife and César’s mother, was a mayoral candidate in Resistencia, Chaco’s capital. Both of them were charged with murder and removed from the Frente Chaqueño ballot, led by Capitanich.
In addition to the members of the Sena family, four other people have also been arrested in connection to the case. Two of them were also candidates and have been removed from the ballot.
After voting, Capitanich gave a press conference, following questions about his political ties with the Sena family.
“A police issue can’t be made into a political issue to benefit certain parties and undermine others,” he said. “Any malicious interpretation does not correspond to reality.”
The governor considered Cecilia’s alleged femicide “abhorrent” and promised that those responsible “will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law”.
Capitanich also said that there was media manipulation to tie him to the murder investigation.
“That I will not allow. In this province, the judiciary has the independence to investigate this kind of event”, he added.
Emerenciano Sena and his ties with Capitanich
In his early twenties, Emerenciano Sena used to be a construction worker. At the end of the nineties, he was one of thousands of unemployed Argentines suffering the country’s economic downturn which later exploded with the 2001 socio-economic crisis. In 1999, he created the worker’s movement MTD General San Martín, a social organization that used to do piquetes in front of the province’s government offices. He managed to get assistance and subsidies from provincial authorities, turning Sena into a relevant social leader.
When Jorge Capitanich became governor in 2007, they became close. Sena was put in charge of developing Sueños Compartidos in Chaco, a nationwide housing program led by Madres de Plaza de Mayo leader Hebe de Bonafini.
The housing complex Sena was supervising was halted after the program was involved in a corruption case— it later got provincial funding through his foundation, called Saúl Andrés Acuña, which he created in 2009. The neighborhood was named Barrio Emerenciano.
In 2015, when Mauricio Macri became president, Sena founded his political party, Partido Socialistas Unidos del Chaco (PSU), which is part of Capitanich’s Frente Chaqueño.
When asked about the public funding Emerenciano Sena’s foundation receives, Capitanich said that it is only one of the 5,000 organizations that receive help from the provincial government. He added that the Chaco government is auditing the Saúl Acuña foundation to protect the jobs it provides for citizens.
Chaco government has no ties with Sena’s foundation other than assigning resources in order for it to accomplish specific targets in employment plans, according to Capitanich.
“They are autonomous and independent, and manifest as a social movement”, he said.
—with information from Télam