Claudio Hugo "Pocho" Lepratti (1966 - 2001)

the Argentine activist and educator engaged in the defense of the poor during the economic crisis

Claudio Hugo Lepratti, called "Pocho", was born in Concepción del Uruguay, Argentina, in 1966. After starting his university studies in Law, "Pocho" Lepratti - in the meantime settled in the city of Rosario - began to practice volunteer work at a Salesian Parish of Don Bosco, committed to assisting young people in the city. Following this experience, "Pocho" Lepratti decided to abandon his university studies and enter the seminary, with the aim of studying Philosophy and taking vows.

One of the compulsory activities proposed by the ecclesiastical college consisted in providing assistance and help to residents of the poorest and neediest neighborhoods of the city of Rosario. Lepratti asked his superiors to continue to carry out this activity even after the period of training. However, his request was denied by the seminarians. For this reason, "Pocho" Lepratti, deeply impressed by that experience, chose to leave the seminary and move to the Barrio Ludeña, one of the Argentine suburbs characterized by great poverty -one of the many so called ville miserie in the city of Rosario. From that moment on Lepratti worked fervently to help the poorest and neediest, especially if they were children. He was helping where it was most needed, while simultaneously performing several roles: coordinator of children and adolescent groups at the Parish of Father Edgardo Montaldo, assistant-cook in a local soup kitchen of the poor and teacher of Philosophy and Theology in Rosary schools.

At the end of 2001, Argentina was crushed by a pressing economic and financial crisis, characterized by high unemployment rates and a riding recession to which the population responded with fierce protests, looting and robberies at supermarkets and shops, throwing the country into chaos. The President-in-Office at the time, Fernando de la Rúa, declared a state of emergency, suspending constitutional guarantees and leaving room for violent repercussions from law enforcement, especially in the cities of Buenos Aires and Rosario.

In this climate of extreme difficulty, on December 19 2001, violent protests took place in Barrio San Flores - a poor neighborhood in the southern part of Rosario - which were repressed with violence by the provincial police of Santa Fe. That day "Pocho" Lepratti worked as an assistant-cook in the soup kitchen of the neighborhood, offering sustenance to the many hungry children of the suburb. After hearing several shots, "Pocho" decided to climb - together with other volunteers - on the roof of the building, with the aim of dissuading police officers from using weapons in an extremely delicate context, in the presence of dozens of children.

"Bajen las armas, que aqui hay solo pibes comiendo", "lower your weapons, here there are only children who are eating". These were the last words spoken by Claudio Hugo "Pocho" Lepratti, shot by a provincial police officer without any further justification. The death of "Pocho" aroused a wave of fervent protests in the country and the President de la Rúa, signatory of the State of Emergency, was removed from office a few days after the dramatic events in Rosario.

"Pocho" Lepratti - became a symbol of social activism and a reference point for the young generations of the poorest neighborhoods of Rosario, who also decided to remember his story in the touching documentary "Pocho de Ludueña, una vida con sentido - La historia de Claudio "Pocho" Lepratti". To his memory is now dedicated a square of the city of Rosario and a public children’s hospital, located in the Barrio of San Flores, not far from the soup kitchen where "Pocho" lost his life.

Gardens that honour Claudio Hugo "Pocho" Lepratti

Claudio Hugo "Pocho" Lepratti is honoured in the Garden of Mar del Plata.

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