Argentina: A movie hostage taking ends 20 years later with a knife | The USA Print

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Capture of a video in which Miguel Ángel Burgo and his accomplices are seen during a hostage-taking in a supermarket in Lanús, Argentina, on July 19, 2002.
Capture of a video in which Miguel Ángel Burgo and his accomplices are seen during a hostage-taking in a supermarket in Lanús, Argentina, on July 19, 2002.

On July 19, 2002, Argentina froze in front of the televisions. Three armed criminals had barricaded themselves in a supermarket with 19 hostages and were threatening to kill them all. 300 police officers surrounded the business, located in Lanús, 10 minutes from downtown Buenos Aires, on a busy avenue. The cameras focused mainly on a thief a head shorter than the other two, with a baby face. It was later learned that his name was Miguel Ángel Burgo, he was only 14 years old and they already called him “Chucky”, because of the diabolical doll. The hostage film did not disappoint viewers: shots in the air, mothers with babies used as shields and crying children. It lasted four hours. When Burgo turned himself in, he could barely walk. While his two older accomplices (they were barely 18 years old) negotiated with the police, Burgo had emptied all the bottles of alcohol that he could. Burgo’s life did not change much after that minute of television fame. Last Friday, now an adult of 34 years, he died a victim of stab wounds given by a man he had tried to assault.

Twenty years ago, Argentina was barely recovering from the stupor that followed the “Ramallo massacre”. In 1999, a bank robbery in that town in the interior of Buenos Aires ended with three hostages killed by the police. The hangover from that massacre was followed by a series of robberies carried out by adolescents – they were popularly called “squirt kids” – that television broadcast live as if it were a great show. The thieves entered a house or business, the police surrounded them and in minutes the mobile news units arrived. In this context, the robbery of the supermarket took place: the press was trained and the thieves made good use of their public exposure. Chucky’s was, however, the most popular.

Miguel Ángel Burgo and his two accomplices entered the supermarket at 7:30 p.m. armed with 9-millimeter pistols. The intention was to empty the boxes and escape immediately, but they preferred to close the door with all the employees and customers inside (11 women, three children and five men), turn off the lights and wait the remaining 40 minutes for the automatic opening of the door. safe deposit box When they wanted to leave, they were already surrounded. The two oldest negotiated loudly for the police, asking for the presence of a judge and even calling their mothers. The youngest, Chucky, got drunk on alcohol and choked on packets of potato chips. When he turned himself in, he could barely walk and he left with the help of one of his companions. Chucky became famous.

A year later, in 2003, the Argentine media reported that the teenager wanted to finish primary school in the center for minors where he was admitted. His father was an alcoholic, his mother could not support the family, and his older brother was in a mental hospital, a victim of drug abuse. Nothing more was heard of him until July 2008, when he was imprisoned at the age of 20 for leading a gang that engaged in “express” kidnappings.

This Tuesday, Argentines heard about Chucky again. He was dead, the victim of a man with whom he had agreed to sell a car and tried to rob. The 58-year-old buyer arrived at the agreed place with his 26-year-old son and the money. Burgo and his three accomplices had no car to sell. Father and son struggled with the thieves and were shot seven times, but on the way back and forth they wounded one of them with a knife. Chucky bled to death 200 meters from the scene, while he was trying to escape.

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