Police killing of Facundo Molares during protest caught on video, journalist recounts the horror (*warning: graphic images)

Make no mistake: Facundo died after the police threw him to the ground, beat him, and suffocated him. The moment replays in my head in a constant loop, sending chills down my spine every time I think of it.

  • 10 months ago
  • September 18, 2023
5 min read
Susi Maresca is an Argentine photographer and journalist who shot an Instagram live video during the protests at the Obelisk where a journalist lost his life. She mostly reports on Indigenous communities around the country, but was recenty part of the August 8 protest in Buenos Aires’ at the Obelisk. She was a witness to Facundo Molares’ murder.
Facundo Molares Schoenfeld, the man killed during the protest at the Obelisk, was 48 years old. Growing up in Buenos Aires, he graduated as a forestry technician. He first protested on December 19 and 10, 2001.
Shortly after, he set out to tour Latin America, inspired by the figure of Che Guevara. He went through Paraguay, Bolivia, Peru and Ecuador before arriving in Colombia. There, in 2003, he joined the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) via the Teófilo Forero Column in the town of Los Pozos.
As a journalist he covered the coup against President Evo Molares in 2019, where he was shot three times in Montero. He spent 23 days in an induced coma, left with heart problems and the near-complete loss of vision in his right eye. His odyssey in Bolivia did not end there. He was detained for 13 months, accused of being a terrorist. He returned to Argentina at the end of 2020. In between, he fell ill twice with coronavirus. In November 2021, he was arrested in Patagonia and transferred to Ezeiza prison to face extradition proceedings to Colombia. He was released in May 2022, after Colombia’s Special Jurisdiction for Peace rejected an extradition request. After his release he returned to journalism. People called him a kind man and a tenacious fighter.

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina — On August 8, protesters gathered at the Buenos Aires Obelisk to make several demands, including better government assistance for the unemployed in Argentina. I attended the event as a photojournalist. As the march began, police officers grew more violent. The situation worsened when authorities started grabbing protesters. I watched as the police forcibly pinned people’s faces to the cold tiles of the Obelisk. Some of the protesters began shouting for help, saying they were choking. I came closer to them, filming everything as I advanced, and asked the people to state their names.

I wanted to make sure I got everything on tape in case it helped them later on. Suddenly, I realized one of the protesters, long-time journalist and activist Facundo Molares, became unresponsive. His face looked badly beaten and his body was lifeless. Fear and anxiety gripped me as I assumed the worst. “He’s purple, turn him over,” I shouted. Sadly, it was too late. 

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I watched as police officers refused to help Facundo, leaving him to die 

As my video camera rolled, capturing the entire event, the police knocked Facundo down and immobilized him using excessive force. You can hear me shouting that he was hurt and having a heart attack, but the police refused to stop. Instead of giving him first aid, they kept restraining him. Their neglect and negligence looked cruel, made worse by a delayed ambulance. Watching them kill Facundo is something I will never forget.

Working as a photojournalist in Argentina, I mainly document indigenous communities and this day I headed to cover another event when I stumbled upon the protest and the Obelisk. Police cars and guards surrounded the entire area. People were beginning to leave, so I slowly walked toward them to see what was happening. Suddenly, I spotted Facundo approaching.

Right in front of me, authorities formed a line to prevent passage and began pushing people out of the way. When the situation escalated, I pulled out my phone to start a live Instagram video. Struggling to digest the scene in front of me, I focused on the content I created in the hopes of ensuring the protesters’ safety. I felt my survival instincts kicking in.

My body entered a different state of existence as I witnessed the violence; I became more alert. I followed Facundo with the lens of my camera, watching as police officers rapidly surrounded him. Before my very eyes, I saw them beat him until he lost consciousness.

The footage initially started as an act of survival. Now, it is a cry for justice.

Make no mistake: Facundo died after the police threw him to the ground, beat him, and suffocated him. The moment replays in my head in a constant loop, sending chills down my spine every time I think of it. The images bring me back to that exact moment, when my body went into shock.

I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. I ran away, terrified for my own life after witnessing Facundo’s life slowly drain out of his eyes. No words can express the pain I felt in my heart. As much as I felt scared and traumatized, I knew this footage needed to come to light. 

Recently, I went to Facundo’s wake and talked to his father, who is a wonderful man. Seeing their family’s strength and grief gave me the courage to openly share my story. As much as I felt scared and traumatized, I knew this footage had to come to light. Even as I review the tapes, I remember the exact moment they took him from us.

Some people tried to get Facundo out of their grips, but the officers stopped them. The shocking photos I took cannot begin to describe the true violence, cruelty, and complete lack of humanity that unfolded in front of me. I hope that with all the evidence before us, we can hold those responsible accountable for their actions.

All photos are courtesy of Susi Maresca.

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