As the movement to stop fracking in Mendoza gathered momentum to become the largest environmental movement in Argentina, the government began a desperate attempt to contain the growing unrest by prosecuting the leading figures and trying to install a climate of fear in the population. A criminal prosecution was launched against EcoLeaks co-founder Esteban Servat to silence him. The charges were brought forward by the Mayor of General Alvear – where Servat resides- by command of his political boss, the Governor of Mendoza Alfredo Cornejo. The goal was to scare Servat and force him to apologize over his public assertions that the government was betraying the people and that the advance of fracking would mean the end of the wine industry and agriculture in Mendoza, along with numberless illnesses for the population due to the contamination of the province aquifers, soil and air.
The first public hearing was scheduled for May 29th, where both Servat and the Mayor, Walther Marcolini, would have to attend and during which Marcolini was expecting Servat to give in to the scare tactics apologizing to have the charges lifted. Instead, Servat called on all the people of General Alvear to attend the hearing if they wanted to finally see somebody telling their politicians the truth in their face. Marcolini was by then under heavy pressure by the people of Alvear (a city with a strong environmental awareness and history) to pronounce himself against fracking and demand its prohibition, but instead he had been hiding away from his people and remaining loyal to the governor, allowing fracking to go on. So, when Servat invited everyone to the public hearing, the scare tactics the government was trying to use turned against themselves, and when a large crowd of people showed up at the hearing, it was the Mayor himself who became scared and did not attend. This, in turn, forced him to give up the charges and lead to the closing of the case.