Milagros Sala’s fame sprang up as the leader of the group that attacked Senator Morales. She runs a “parallel State” in Jujuy, with the subsidies sent by the National Government. She’s feared and respected by the opposition.
Milagro’s story is one of misery and helplessness. At 15, she discovered as a betrayal that she was adopted and that her mother had abandoned her in a cardboard box outside a hospital. She left her upbringing house and ran away to the streets. She wandered for years in the depths of society, among the defeated, hard luck go-getters, drug dealers, cons, thieves and prostitutes.
At 18 she she was arrested for trespassing on a foreign house. After 8 months confinement, she was lodged in the headquarters of the Peronist Youth (Juventud Peronista) and she found her first job as a janitor of a public building. She began developing acquaintances in the local guild. Soon she would be the State Employees Association delegate, where she would start suffering the 90′s adjustment process when a massive jobs loss took place.
The new century – same as to Luis D’Elia in La Mtanza, and Koesteki and Santillan in Avellaneda – caught her amidst picketing, assembling community meals, and burning tires to get subsidies. Carlos “The Dog” Santillan was her chum, with whom today she only shares a sense of mutual contempt. Milagros wasn’t any other picketer. She got into neighbourhoods abandoned by traditional politics, she built up schools, she generated employement, now houses, and even a 150 long and 60 wide swimming pool.
She talks, like many, of a fight between black and white, even though she married a white man. “Her whitey”, Raul, is a journalist thought by many as being the intellect behind the rage. That marriage, three years ago, brought along a shaman in Peru, and Alicia Kirchner’s congratulations, who is a godmother at distance.
But Milagros ignores that her country isn’t the only one. Most people from Jujuy aren’t within her horizon, and they fear her.
Sala takes refuge in the “affluent” shanty towns. Everything around her is concentrated there, like a fortress’ diagram: 1,800 houses for 10,000 inhabitants; a blocks, pipes and cobblestones factory; a textile workshop, a metallurgical one, a hospital, a football stadium, two schools with a special syllabus, and a self-owned supermarket. Everything has the same name: Tupac Amaru. Within a month, she’ll open a water park with a 120 metres long swimming pool. Then she’ll devote herself to her next goal: a shopping mall.
The Tupac Amaru group owns more than twenty properties, including a museum and several shops downtown. The organization records 70,000 adherents: More than 10% of the province’s population depend just on her. She also controls a faction of Gimnasia and Esgrima from Jujuy’s fans’ gang, which is named in her honour:The Flaca’s gang.
She gets 5,000 monthly sacks of food from the national government, which arrive straight to the group’s headquarters, bypassing the provincial or municipal buildings. According to the official payrolls of the Planning Ministry, so far this year she has received almost 100 million pesos for the operation of her housing cooperatives.
She has accumulated so much power that she managed to mount a kind of parallel state, which is also allowed to override official and legislative decisions. The group also has several members who are under investigation by the criminal court of Jujuy for alleged violent offences, drug possession and use of weapons.