Updated 03:41 AM EDT, Wed, Oct 28, 2020

Milagro Sala's Arrest Raise Tensions Between Pope Francis & Argentina's President Macri

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The recent arrest of political activist Milagro Sala after being accused of corruption has caused tension between Argentine President Mauricio Macri and Pope Francis. Sala was arrested in January on counts of fraud and extortion, which has sparked debate from various rights groups.

The Argentine president is scheduled to meet the pope on February 27 during Macri's visit to The Vatican. This will be his first official visit as Argentina's president since coming into power last December 10. While Pope Francis has met Macri before when the president was still mayor of Buenos Aires, Sala's arrest threatens to raise tension between Argentina's leader and the pontiff of Rome.

The Guardian reports that Pope Francis had met Sala in Rome just after he was elected pope. Pope Francis is a staunch supporter of human rights and has fought on numerous occasions to defend Argentina's social workers and movements.

Sala has been accused of inciting a coup by Jujuy Governor Gerardo Morales. Both are known to be in a long-standing feud with each other. Morales, in a report with the Buenos Aires Herald, said that he will stop at nothing in his attacks against Sala, whose group he accused of wanting to oust him out of power and wanting to overthrow the provincial government.

Sala is the leader of Túpac Amaru, which was vastly supported by Macri's predecessor and rival Cristina Kirchner. The organization was given $2m in subsidies which were used to house 70,000 indigenous members.

The Argentine Catholic Church has already urged leaders to not take its fear of political change in the fight against corruption as the pontiff of Rome has already decried xenophobia numerous times. Bishop Jorge Lazano, a church official in Argentina, has already called for the release of Sala. 

Macri had previously spoken to Pope Francis on the phone to greet him on his birthday back in December. The two prominent Argentine figures had no communication following Macri's victory back in November of last year. 

After Sala's arrest on January 16, human rights activists stormed in front of President Macri's presidential office, demanding her release. The groups have argued that Sala was unjustly jailed after peacefully exercising her rights of protesting. The group runs schools and textile mills that have provided livelihood to various members of the community.

When Macri is set to meet with the pope at the end of the month, Sala's arrest will surely be one of the things that will be addressed. The Argentine Church has already raised concerns that Macri and his government are now out to take down social movements.

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