“I wanted to go to bed and never wake up again,” recalls the mother about her pain and sadness. But she got up to demand justice for the memory of her son.
By Yader Luna (Confidencial)
HAVANA TIMES – Embracing the photo of her son, and surrounded by five women who took the brooms from her homes and hung white T-shirts from them, as a symbol of peace, Elizabeth Velasquez took to the streets of Diriamba, disoriented, while the bullets still sounded, looking for her son, Josue Mojica, who had just been assassinated.
She asked for his body, but hoped to find him alive. Hoping that the photograph they showed her of her son lying on the pavement on a street of the La Libertad neighborhood was not really him. Although his light blue beach shirt, beige sweater and black cap confirmed that it was him.
“I arrived at the place where he was killed, I knelt in a puddle of blood, I started touching it with my hands and screamed, begging to be told where my son was,” Elizabeth recalls two years later.
The photo of the slight body of “Fetito,” as he was affectionately known by his friends, circulated on social networks. It was the dawn of July 8, 2018, when dozens of paramilitaries and policemen burst into the barricades and roadblocks set up in protest against the Ortega regime in Diriamba, Dolores and Jinotepe, in the department of Carazo.
“Fetito” was one of the more than 20 young people from Carazo killed that day, at the start of the so-called “Clean-Up Operation,” as the dictatorship called the order to dismantle with bullets, the protest of the population in the streets and roads. The order also was to “free” dozens of trucks detained at a roadblock that began in Jinotepe and ended in Diriamba.
Facing the hooded men
The inhabitants of Carazo woke up that Sunday amid confusion and bullets. It was five o’clock in the morning when the sound of the bullets began, simultaneously at different places, to remove one of the most severe and uncomfortable roadblocks against the regime, located near the “San Jose School.”
Elizabeth remembers that she walked along with the group of women, to the Central Park of Diriamba, where a group of hooded men were. She stood in front of several of them and demanded that they give her the body of her son. None responded.
One of them broke the silence and said: “Here we are just cleaning up, nobody has been killed here.” Another one affirmed to her: “I saw your son walking towards his aunt,” while pointing in the direction to the cemetery. Another one dared to speak and assured her that “he was walking towards his girlfriend,” on the road to Dolores.
“They were acquaintances, they knew who my son was, but no matter how much I begged them they did not say anything and neither could I know who they were because they were all hooded,” she recalls.
Elizabeth cries when she thinks of Josue, bloody on the street, after being shot in the back. But her grief is greater when she narrates what she learned later. “My son was assassinated, massacred. When he was alive, he screamed calling me, they killed him by a stab in his heart, they broke his ribs, they dislocated his shoulders, they threw him in a black bag, and they danced on his body,” was the description that neighbors and witnesses told her.
“Afterwards they threw him in a Hilux pick-up truck and took away his body,” she narrates.
Where was her son?
Elizabeth asked all over the city, at the hospital, but nobody told her anything about Josue. The shootings continued for more than ten hours in Diriamba, Dolores and Jinotepe.
She went to the “Las Esquinas” police station, which functioned as a police and paramilitary barracks and where they tortured dozens of protestors. But there they did not tell her anything either.
The second time she returned to that place to ask about her son, someone told her to go ask at the Institute of Legal Medicine in Managua. She left immediately, but it was until seven o’clock at night that they confirmed to her that Josue’s body was there.
“They did not give him to me, because I did not have a casket. I had to come back for him the following day,” she recalls.
“They haven’t let him rest”
Elizabeth regrets that she couldn’t even give her son a dignified farewell. “Not even a flower did my son have because we were surrounded by paramilitaries when we were going to bury him. It was very sad. I didn’t even put the Nicaraguan flag on his coffin, because he loved to use it in all the marches,” she regretted.
“When we went to the cemetery, the hooded paramilitaries were celebrating, throwing mortars and firing shots into the air. Very few of his friends went to the funeral because they were afraid that they would take them away,” she says.
But they haven’t let him rest in peace either. “They destroyed my life. They traumatized me by cruelly murdering my son and now they are coming to destroy his grave,” Elizabeth lamented on November 2, Day of the Dead in Nicaragua, when they desecrated and destroyed the grave of “Fetito.”
A small ceramic booth, a blue and white painted stone book in which the family wrote the phrase “We will never forget you” and Josue’s photograph were destroyed.
Josue Mojica was 20 years old. “They called him “fetito” because his older brother was called “Feto” (fetus) because they were both short,” explains his mother.
He studied high school and helped his mother in a market stall. He was planning to start a used shoe sales business.
Fifteen days before he was killed, Josue found his mother grief-stricken, crying on the bed. He promised that he would never go to the streets again to look out at the roadblocks. “I will not go, but calm down now,” he said.
A day before he was killed, he had gone to the beach with some friends. “But someone called him at dawn on the day he was murdered,” said his mother. I never knew who it was. “My son went out with the shorts on that he had come from the beach in, he was only taking photos and video of what happened when he was mercilessly murdered,” Elizabeth complained.
“Fetito” is remembered by her as “the happiness of this house. He liked soccer. They always looked for him a lot here, for the teams, because he was always a striker and since he was little, I always took him, and always celebrated his goals.”
He also practiced Taekwondo and had already won a silver medal. He was a fan of Barcelona, but especially of the local Diriangen team. Every time they played, the brothers went together to the stadium, which is a few blocks from their home.
“I remember that I once went to buy the Diriangen shirts for my two sons, mine, and my partner’s. They went with their friends, I with my husband, but we all went there to watch the game,” she narrated.
Elizabeth confesses that after Josue’s murder she lost the desire for everything. “At one point I wanted to go to bed and never get out of bed again. But I was counselled: “If you don’t get up, who will fight for your son, so that justice be done.” And I said it is true: if I stay in this bed I am going to die, and I want justice to be done for the murder of Josue.”