On May 30, 2018 — which is Mothers Day in Nicaragua — thousands of citizens joined a protest in support of the mothers of 90 people who were killed during the first days of the Civic Rebellion. That day, no one expected that the "mother of all marches" would end in a new massacre. These are stories of 19 mothers who have mourned, gone into exile and demanded justice without impunity since that bloody day.
Yadira Córdoba, mother of Orlando Aguirre Córdoba
Yadira Córdoba remembers the indignation that her son, Orlando Aguirre Córdoba, felt for the murders committed by the dictatorship during the protests. That is why the teenager had spent days insisting that they go to a march on May 30, 2018, in solidarity with the women who had lost their children. She was tired after washing hundreds of clothes at her job, so she could not accompany him. However, before he left, they had lunch and took a picture together. It was the last one they would take.
“I felt very tired that day and didn't go to the march, but I didn't take away his desire to go. It was for the mothers, and we all thought that the government wouldn’t attack the citizens. Nobody could imagine what was going to happen, nobody thought they would dare to attack. And that day I became one of those mothers," Yadira recalls in "AMA y Construye la Memoria. Libro Arte Interactivo", the title of an ebook published by the Mothers of April Association (AMA) and the "AMA y No Olvida" museum, a museum created by the association to commemorate the lives of their children and to demand justice.
A friend from the church she attends called to tell her that "Orlandito", as they used to call her son, had been wounded. She desperately left for the hospital, but Orlando had already died.
"He was shot in the thorax in the context of the incidents that took place in the area near the Dennis Martínez National Stadium and the National Engineering University (UNI), at approximately 4:00 in the afternoon. "They hit me, they hit me!" he exclaimed", according to a report by the Interdisciplinary Group of Independent Experts (GIEI) that investigated the events of that day.
"Remembering Orlandito's jokes brings tears to my eyes. There will never again be a May 30 for me, that day will not be Mother's Day for me."
The 15-year-old teenager studied at school and was passionate about soccer. He was also a drummer at the church he attended.
In a video made by the Human Rights Collective Nicaragua Nunca Más, Yadira Córdoba describes her life before 2018 as "nice" because she had her four children. She recalls that on Mother's Day, Orlando posted a message for her on Facebook that said, "This is not just any day, this is a day for my old lady (as he affectionately called her)."
She hopes that justice will be served for her son's murder. "I want the truth to be known, for the government to accept that it gave the order to assassinate the people," she says.
Paula Hernández, mother of Maycol Cipriano González Hernández
Paula Hernández affirms that her entire family joined the protests against Daniel Ortega's regime since April 21, 2018, the day her nephew, Jeisson Chavarría, was murdered in Ticuantepe.
Forty days later, her son Maycol Cipriano González Hernández would also be killed. On May 30, she recalls, the whole family went by truck to join the march, but Doña Paula thought her son would not be able to join because he went to work. He was studying English and working as a construction worker.
"I leaned forward to see the sea of people coming with their flags, and I was shocked when I saw Maycol marching in the middle of the crowd. It was the last time I saw him," she expresses with emotion in "AMA y Construye la Memoria. Libro Arte Interactivo", published by the Mothers of April Association and the "AMA y No Olvida"museum.
She stayed near the Teresiano school because the large number of people attending the march prevented them from moving forward. But her son managed to reach the UNI sector.
The GIEI report details that "he walked through the people and was able to reach the place where the Mothers of April were. In the context of the incidents that took place in the area near the Dennis Martinez National Stadium and the UNI, and shortly before 5:00 in the afternoon, he was shot in the abdomen. Reports attribute the victim's death to the action of snipers, which is consistent with other diverse elements of information that support this hypothesis, which must be properly investigated. A group of people present at the protest took him to the Vivian Pellas Hospital, where he arrived still alive. He died at 7:12 p.m. that same day".
Maycol was the oldest of his siblings and was making sacrifices to pay for his English degree, convinced that it would be an opportunity to give his family a better life. In the evenings, in his free time, he was working on the construction of a house for his mother. He was unable to finish it.
Guillermina Zapata, mother of Francisco Javier Reyes Zapata
Guillermina Mercedes Zapata was presented with a Nicaraguan flag stained with the blood of her son, Francisco Javier Reyes Zapata, on Good Friday of 2019, almost a year after he was murdered. It was given to her by a dark curly haired young man who picked up her son's body after being shot accurately in the head.
"I felt emotional. I wanted to meet this boy who had picked up my son the moment he fell near the UNI," Guillermina told CONFIDENCIAL.
The video of her deceased son being transported by motorcycle to the hospital was shared thousands of times on social networks. He died almost immediately. The high-caliber projectile perforated the back of his skull and the bullet exited through his right eye.
She also participated in the massive march and they had agreed to meet in the Metrocentro sector to leave together. But Guillermina was late at work and Francisco Javier reached the Rotonda Jean Paul Genie, from where the demonstration started, on time. They never met up.
When the shooting started, she ran to the Cristo Rey Roundabout. From there, she called her son's cell phone. But there was never an answer. When she called the conventional phone at home, another of her sons told her that they had received a call from the hospital reporting that his brother had been killed.
"My son was killed by someone who knows how to shoot and who has experience in killing. Because they are already hitmen. They are genocidal. And Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo are responsible," said Guillermina Zapata.
Her son, known as "el zurdo" (the left-handed one) worked along with her, selling clothes informally in Rivas and Salinas. He liked to play soccer. He was shy, reserved, but loving with his mother.
The last time they traveled together to Rivas, transportation was scarce and they asked for a ride in a wagon. "He was happy because he liked the countryside, the animals. He wanted to visit Playa Gigante, because his desire was to travel, to explore Nicaragua," she recalls in "AMA y Construye la Memoria. Libro Arte Interactivo", published by the Mothers of April Association and the " AMA y No Olvida" museum.
After the murder of Francisco Javier, his father, Armando Antonio Reyes Rojas, who was an active policeman, announced that he would retire from the institution for which he served for 36 years.
"I am retiring from the institution to civilian life, because it is hard to see that video where they grab him and take him on the motorcycle, and he dies," Reyes Rojas told CONFIDENCIAL.
Josefa Meza, Jonathan Morazán Meza's mother
"Take care of yourself, son. They are repressing the young people more," Josefa Meza advised her son, Jonathan Morazán Meza, before he left home to go to the "March of the Mothers" with some friends.
He replied yes, and that she should also take care of herself. Minutes later she wrote to warn him that there was a large number of motorized mobs in the Rotonda El Periodista sector. She dressed in black, in solidarity with the mothers of those killed during the protests, and also went out to join the massive demonstration.
When the attack began she was near Avenida Universitaria. She saw the crowd running in panic looking for shelter. The first thing she did was to call Jonathan insistently. The voice of the answering machine distressed her.
"Shortly before 5:30 in the afternoon, during the repression deployed against the demonstrators by uniformed police and civilians who acted together with them, he received a gunshot that hit his head," said the GIEI in the report in which it confirmed that the State committed crimes against humanity.
Half an hour later, Josefa received a call from her son's phone, but it was from the hospital. When the medical report was presented, it was not encouraging. The encephalogram showed the brain stem out of place. Jonathan died on June 1, 2018.
"He was always unconscious because the shot went straight to the brain stem, it was to kill, it was an accurate shot from a sniper," Josefa insists in the story collected by the Mothers of April Association and the " AMA y No Olvida" museum.
"There will never again be Mother's Day on May 30. Never again! We are not going to have Mothers' Day until there is justice," insists Josefa in an interview with CONFIDENCIAL.
Jonathan studied Graphic Design at the Universidad del Valle and frequented the Mormon Church. His mother fondly keeps the last photo taken of him during that march with a colorful scarf covering half of his face and a ribbon on his head that says "Nicaragua".
Three years after his murder, Josefa is in exile in Europe and regrets that impunity continues to reign in Nicaragua because the judicial system is an instrument of the regime, which has prevented transparent investigations into the brutal massacre.
"The truth must come to light, that it be recorded in history and that there be no more repetition of a government massacring its own people," she demanded in an interview published in La Lupa last April.
Alejandra Rivera, mother of Daniel Josías Reyes Rivera
"People who stay at home think that the struggle is for those who are in the streets, but the struggle is for everyone, also for those who stay at home. What good are my studies with this man (Daniel Ortega) who is killing us? Don't worry, nothing is going to happen to me," Daniel Josías Reyes Rivera replied to his mother, Alejandra Rivera, on one of the many days she insisted he not take to the streets in April and May 2018.
At the beginning of the protests, he stopped going to the University of Commercial Sciences (UCC), where he was in his third year of Veterinary Medicine and Zootechnics, but he left the house daily without saying where he was going. Later, they found out that he had been going to join the protests.
He had belonged to the Sandinista Youth (JS), but Alejandra had made him reflect on the dictatorial attitude of Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo.
"I see two people clinging to power for a long time, who have the Army, the Police and a third army dressed in white, which is you, the Sandinista Youth. In the event of a conflict, you are going to be the army," Alejandra repeated to her son, Daniel Reyes.
On May 30, the young man left his home to join the Mothers' Day march. "He was in front, in the protective cordon that the students made to protect the mothers," Alejandra recalls in "AMA y Construye la Memoria. Libro Arte Interactivo", published by the Mothers of April Association and the " AMA y No Olvida" museum.
She was watching the march on television and was distressed when she observed the beginning of the attack on the massive rally. She called Daniel several times, but he did not answer. He disappeared that day and they were unable to find him until two days later, when they learned that his body was at the Institute of Legal Medicine.
"At approximately 5:30 in the afternoon, in the repression deployed against the demonstrators by uniformed police and people in civilian clothes who acted together with them, he was hit by a gunshot in the abdomen," details the GIEI. He died of a massive internal hemorrhage.
The UCC gave his family the title "In Memoriam" as a posthumous tribute to the young man who dreamed of having his own veterinary clinic and loved animals. At home he had sheep, dogs and cats.
Marta Portobanco Vallejos, mother of Edgard Guevara Portobanco
On May 30, 2018, Marta Portobanco Vallejos was at home watching the news. She had stayed to take care of her younger grandchildren while her two daughters, sons-in-law and older grandchildren participated in the massive Mother's Day march. Just then, her son Edgard Guevara Portobanco, arrived. He lied down next to her and they stayed up watching television.
When they began to report on the shooting attack on the march, he got up and told her: "I'll be back soon, I'm going to run an errand." He left on the motorcycle. She had not imagined that he was going to the place they were watching on television, where people were running in terror.
Determined, Edgard went to the Enel Central area where he joined a group of blue and white motorcyclists who formed a barrier to prevent a group of mobs that were coming from the old Military Hospital towards the UCA from continuing attacking demonstrators.
"At approximately 5:30 in the afternoon, while he was riding his motorcycle on Bolivar Avenue in the sector near the traffic lights of Enel Central towards the lake, he was hit in the thorax by a firearm - it was presumed to be three shots. The perpetrators were allegedly members of the shock groups that operated that day. It was reported that in this area, as in others, these groups acted in coordination with members of the National Police. He was taken to the Bautista Hospital by ambulance, where he arrived unconscious and died the same day at 9:08 p.m.", states the GIEI report.
When denouncing his murder, the family said that he went to prevent the attack on the massive march from continuing, because he knew that many mothers and children were there.
Edgard had three children. He was unemployed and drove a cab occasionally. He was also in his fourth year of law school at the University of the Americas.
Although he had been a Sandinista, he left the party two years before 2018 because he did not agree with the repressive practices of the government against citizen mobilizations.
"We want justice, an investigation into who fired the shots and that people's rights are respected, because they (most of the 328 killed during the protests) died claiming those rights. Every time I remember what happened, what we have lived through, I relive what happened and I feel those murdered boys as if they were my children", says Marta.
Vilma Reyes Somoza, mother of Kevin Antonio Coffin Reyes
On December 16, 2017, Kevin Antonio Coffin Reyes, gave one of the greatest joys of life to his mother, Vilma Reyes Somoza, when he won a gold medal in Sambo, in the 90 kilogram category during the XI Central American Games Managua 2017.
Less than a year later he was murdered, on May 30, 2018. His family claims that "he was shot from a van" when he was attending a government activity.
Vilma told the official Canal 4 that her son dreamed of achieving success with his sports discipline.
"He was everything (...) he used to say that one day they would bring him to the airport like 'Chocolatito' for his sport", his mother recalled.
Kevin was an FSLN militant and had been working in the Ciudad Sandino Mayor's Office for a little over a month.
The GIEI report indicates that at 5:30 in the afternoon "he was admitted lifeless to the "Dr. Alejandro Dávila Bolaños" Military School Hospital, as a result of a gunshot wound to his thorax".
Although the National Police stated in a press release that he died after the attack that "a group of delinquents" allegedly carried out against "people who were participating in the Cantata in Homage to the Nicaraguan Mothers" organized by the Government in the "sector of the Dennis Martínez National Stadium, up to the Jonathan González traffic lights", the report of the GIEI points out that this information has been seriously questioned.
The GIEI expressly requested the State to provide contact information or manage the relevant measures to be able to arrange a meeting with Kevin's family, but it was not possible. "In this case, the lack of information and the scarcity of alternative sources have prevented further determination of the circumstances of the death," the report states.
In July 2019, the municipal authorities of Ciudad Sandino inaugurated a sports complex named after Kevin Coffin Reyes. At the event his mother declared gratitude that they had dedicated that work to her son.
"For me, it is a great honor that they have named this sports complex after my son. It is the same pride that my son gave to the whole family with his sport when he won the Central American Games as a Sambo gold medalist. He was a young man who wanted to raise his country and his municipality to the highest level", said Vilma at the ceremony.
Margarita Díaz Aguirre, mother of Heriberto Maudiel Pérez Díaz
Three days before Heriberto Maudiel Pérez Díaz was murdered on May 30, 2018, his mother Margarita Díaz Aguirre dreamed that he would die an excruciating death.
"Three days ago I dreamt that he was covered in blood. I do not ask for anything because justice will come from above. Men have made a mistake because they have no knowledge of the word of God", she declared to the officialist media 19 Digital.
Furthermore, according to the government propaganda media, she blamed the university students for the murder.
"That is why I call on all of them to repent, to convert to Christ, and not to go around killing, because the word of God says: Thou shalt not kill," she said in her only statements to date.
The report of the GIEI indicates that at 5:30 in the afternoon "he would have been admitted lifeless to the Hospital Militar Escuela "Dr. Alejandro Dávila Bolaños", as a result of a gunshot wound to his thorax".
A press release from the National Police detailed that he died after the attack that "a group of delinquents'' would have carried out against "people who were participating in a Cantata in homage to the Nicaraguan Mothers" organized by the Government in the "sector of the Dennis Martínez National Stadium, up to the Jonathan González traffic lights". However, the GIEI report points out that this information has been seriously questioned.
The GIEI expressly asked the State to provide contact information or manage the relevant measures to be able to arrange a meeting with Heriberto's family, but never received a response. "In this case, the lack of information and the scarcity of alternative sources have made it impossible to determine the circumstances of the death to a greater extent," the report states.
Heriberto was a worker and a member of the Sandinista Youth (JS). He had a two-year-old son.
Marvin José Meléndez Núñez, killed in Chinandega
Although several pro-government media widely reported the murder of Marvin José Meléndez Núñez, a 49 year old FSLN militant who worked in the Risk Management Unit of the Mayor's Office of El Viejo, Chinandega, they never reported the name of his mother, although they did broadcast a photo of her and family members next to the grave in a cemetery.
"It hurts us, his siblings, his children (...) my mother was left with great pain, (we ask) that they stop these fights, because there are already too many deaths", declared one of his sisters to the official Canal 13, which also did not identify her.
His family has participated in events organized by the FSLN, but the media have not broadcasted statements either. They have emphasized that for 18 years, he carried out important humanitarian missions in hurricanes, droughts, floods, drills, rescue of lost citizens in the area of the Cosigüina Volcano and in the fight against forest fires.
The GIEI indicates in its report that on the afternoon of May 30, 2018 "a protest began to develop in Chinandega framed as the so-called March of the Mothers" and that in that context "incidents occurred between the demonstrators and troops of the National Police and shock groups related to the Government."
"Marvin José received at least one shot from a firearm that caused injuries to his abdomen and thorax. He was transferred to the España Hospital, where he was admitted at approximately 09:00 at night and died at 01:35 on May 31", details the agency.
A press release from the National Police indicated that Marvin died in front of the Chinandega City Hall facilities when a "group of delinquents" attacked the building and assaulted people who were guarding the place.
In this regard, the GIEI report insists that "on repeated occasions it requested information from the State about the deaths that occurred during the period of its mandate and about the respective investigations, but it never received a response".
"In this case, the lack of information and the scarcity of alternative sources have made it impossible to determine to a greater extent the circumstances of the death," they point out.
María Elena Zepeda, mother of Juan Alejandro Zepeda Ortiz
Juan Alejandro Zepeda Ortiz, an 18-year-old murdered in Chinandega on May 30, 2018, dreamed of becoming a doctor. This is how his mother, María Elena Zepeda, remembers it. "He liked to study, he was a good student, but they stole his dream when they murdered him," she repeats.
She describes him as a cheerful kid, who got good grades and was nicknamed "El Gastón" by his friends. She remembers that he liked to play baseball and was in his fifth year of secondary school at the Polytechnic School of Chinandega.
She noticed that her son "was up to something" (during the 2018 demonstrations) when she heard him singing protest songs.
"I heard that he liked the songs of the marches and I saw that he started integrating (...) he didn't say anything to me because he knew that I, like any other mother, was afraid," she explains in a video by the Mothers of April Association and the "AMA y No Olvida" museum.
On May 23, 2018, her son joined the marches organized in Chinandega and began to suffer persecution by police, who harassed him on motorcycles and patrol cars even at his home. But that did not stop him. "He wanted a free country," insists María Elena.
She recalls that on May 30, 2018, he left his house around 7:30 in the morning to join the protest march organized in solidarity with the mothers of the young people killed by state repression in his city.
In Chinandega, as in other departments of the country, the march was attacked by the National Police and pro-government shock groups. According to the GIEI report, "Juan Alejandro received the impact of a firearm projectile to his head".
"He was taken to the España Hospital by motorcycle, where he was admitted after midnight and died shortly thereafter, at approximately 3:30 a.m. on May 31," the document prepared by the independent experts of the IACHR's GIEI states.
The police indicated that the young man died along with other people in front of the Chinandega City Hall when "groups of delinquents" attacked the building. However, reports from family members indicate that he was participating in the protest when he was injured near the Amocsa Clinic, when he was dragged and beaten by police officers.
Nidia Hernández Almendárez, sister of Rudy Antonio Hernández Almendárez
Rudy Antonio Hernández Almendárez disagreed with the brutal repression by the Government of Daniel Ortega against the demonstrations started in April 2018. Since then, he had been taking a Nicaraguan flag on the tricycle with which he made a living by hauling. This is how his sister, Nidia Hernández Almendárez, remembers it.
"Ever since he started carrying his blue and white flag, he was being targeted. The neighbors threatened him, they told him they were going to burn his tricycle," says Nidia in "AMA y Construye la Memoria. Libro Arte Interactivo", published by the Mothers of April Association and the "AMA y No Olvida" museum.
Since he was a child, her brother started working on a wagon, and later he dedicated himself to work on the tricycle with which he carried suitcases, bags and passengers.
According to the GIEI report, Rudy was dead when he was admitted to the España Hospital in Chinandega on May 30, at 11:40 p.m. The list of deceased persons submitted by the State of Nicaragua to the IACHR states that the wounds he presented were produced by "multiple charnel wounds to the thorax". However, the report published by newspaper La Prensa indicated that his body presented "shotgun pellets in the left shoulder and in the thorax".
In a video recorded by the pro-government Canal 8, Lucía Margarita Almendárez, mother of Rudy, says that her son was wounded after approaching the place where there were clashes. In her testimony she affirms that his murder is not Daniel Ortega's fault, although she does not blame the "groups of delinquents" that the police blame for his murder.
"In this case, the lack of information and the scarcity of alternative sources have prevented further determination of the circumstances of the death," the GIEI report reiterates.
But his sister, who participated in the march, recalls that the protest was repressed by police and the Sandinista Youth (JS) who barricaded themselves in the Chinandega City Hall "because the boys had pushed them back with stones."
"This was a massacre carried out by the government against young people who were unarmed, they were only carrying stones and sticks. They shot to kill, because all the people who died were shot accurately", says Nidia Hernández Almendárez, Rudy's sister.
She asks for justice for this crime that left her three nephews orphaned. Her brother had promised them that they would move to Terrabona, Matagalpa, together with their mother, Luciana Aguinaga, and he would build them a house.
Felipe Salcedo, father of Darwin Salcedo Vílchez
The family of Darwin Salcedo Vílchez, originally from San Juan del Río Coco, gave practically no statements to the media. The only one who spoke was his father Felipe Salcedo, apparently a Sandinista. He told officialist media El 19 Digital that the 18-year-old was not a student and worked at the Taller de Torno Iván in Estelí, from where he had left the night of May 30, 2018 heading to his residence when he was hit by a bullet.
The propaganda medium indicates that his father stated that the young man died on June 1 at the San Juan de Dios hospital in Estelí after he "was accidentally shot in the head by a firearm on May 30 in the clashes that occurred in that city".
The report by newspaper La Prensa indicates that the direct cause of his death was "due to dysfunction of the encephalic stem as a result of a wound caused by a 22 caliber rifle bullet that penetrated his skull". The young man, originally from Madriz, lived in the Óscar Turcios neighborhood, in Estelí.
The GIE report recalls that on that Mother's Day "confrontations took place between people stationed at the roadblock installed on the North Pan-American highway kilometer 124 (Municipality La Trinidad - Estelí) and police and members of the caravan of people sympathetic to the Government party who were trying to evict them to cross through that place towards Managua" in order to participate in the official act to be held in the capital.
"As indicated in this report, it is highly probable that those who were at the roadblock or the residents who supported them used firearms during these incidents," warns the GIEI.
The experts of the GIEI clarify that they requested a meeting with Darwin's family and more information from the State about this and other deaths, but "never received a response.
"The lack of information and the scarcity of alternative sources have prevented further determination of the circumstances of the death," they explain in their report.
Mirna Ríos, abuela de Dariel Steven Gutiérrez Ríos
The family of Dariel Steven Gutiérrez Ríos lived through 60 days of anguish and pain. On May 30, 2018, the 20-year-old young man was hit in the head by a firearm projectile, and died on July 31 of the same year.
His mother, an unidentified Sandinista militant, blamed "the terrorist gang of La Trinidad" for the murder of her son, through the pro-government Channel 4. His grandmother, Mirna Ríos, former FSLN deputy mayor in Jalapa, was the most visible face in the demand for justice for his murder. She was the one who came to take his body from the Institute of Legal Medicine.
According to the family’s account, also included in the GIEI report, Dariel was part of the Sandinista caravan when "confrontations took place between people stationed at the roadblock installed on the North Pan-American highway kilometer 124 (Municipality La Trinidad - Estelí) and police officers and members of the caravan of people sympathetic to the Government party, who were trying to evict them to cross through that place towards Managua" in order to participate in the official event to be held in the capital.
"There are elements to suspect that the shots received by the victim came from the people stationed at the roadblock. However, despite the fact that the GIEI requested information from the State on repeated occasions regarding the deaths that occurred during the period of its mandate and on the respective investigations, it never received a response, which makes it difficult to determine the circumstances of the death," the report states.
However, a video was published by the April 19 Movement of Estelí on May 31, 2019, in which the young man can be seen in an opposition caravan shouting: "Long live the students!", while wearing the same clothes as on the day when he was shot.
They allege that the young man had joined the marches against the Ortega government.
His funeral was a massive act in which dozens of Sandinista militants participated. The radio station ABC Stereo of Estelí reported that Dariel was well known in Jalapa because he was part of the Red Cross volunteer corps there.
Jairo Antonio Osorio Raudales, killed in Jalapa
Jairo Antonio Osorio Raudales was 39 years old. Originally from Teocacinte, Jalapa. He worked as a farmer and was the father of a ten year old boy. His story and the name of his family is unknown.
A year after his murder, his mother and family participated in an event organized by the FSLN, according to photos of the portal Las Segovias en Noticias, but there is no testimony of their statements.
On May 30, 2018, according to the GIEI report, Jairo was killed when "confrontations arose between people stationed at the roadblock installed on the Pan-American Highway North kilometer 124 (Municipality La Trinidad - Estelí) and police officers and members of the caravan of people sympathetic to the Government party who were trying to evict them to cross through that place towards Managua" in order to participate in the officialist act that would be held in the capital.
"Jairo Antonio, who was part of the caravan, was shot in the thorax. At approximately 1:00 in the afternoon he arrived at the San Juan de Dios Hospital (Estelí), already deceased", according to the GIEI report.
In a press release, the National Police reported that 16 policemen and 31 people were injured on May 30, 2018, blaming "hooded subjects".
The GIEI report mentions that "there are elements to suspect that the shots received by the victim came from the people stationed at the roadblock."
"However, despite the fact that the GIEI repeatedly requested information from the State on the deaths that occurred during the period of its mandate and on the respective investigations, it never received a response, which makes it difficult to further clarify the circumstances of the death," the document states.
They were also unable to arrange a meeting with Jairo Antonio's family, as well as those of other victims.
Aura Blandón, Dodanim Castilblanco Blandón's mother
Her gaze is a reflection of the pain that continues to be felt. Aura Blandón Ortiz describes - in a video posted on AMA's Museum of Memory - how the most "horrible" moment of her life occurred on May 30, 2018, the date on which she had to identify the body of her son Dodanim Castilblanco Blandón, killed by a bullet to the thorax while participating in the Mothers' March in Estelí.
Castilblanco Blandón - who had been participating in social protests against Daniel Ortega's regime since April 2018 - was 26 years old and was in his third year of agro-industrial engineering at UNI-Norte, based in Estelí, when he was killed.
The GIEI explains that Dodanim was "shot with a firearm in the thorax in front of the Monterrosa Hardware Store", after the group of demonstrators, who were circulating in the area of the General Directorate of Revenue (DGI) of Estelí, was "attacked by armed shock groups that came out of that public building".
Contrary to this, the official version of the Police of the Ortega regime indicates that Dodanim, together with other people, died when "hooded subjects" attacked the installations of the DGI, the mayor's office and neighboring businesses.
The family of the young man signaled "armed people, ex-guerrillas, representatives of the Sandinista Youth and others who were heavily armed, with powerful weapons, who ambushed" the demonstrators as responsible for the murder of their relative.
They emphasize - in an interview with TeleNorte - that Dodanim "was not a bum, as the Vice President (Rosario Murillo) says" and was killed for demonstrating.
The young man's relatives continue to demand "justice", although they have stated that they do not trust the authorities of the Nicaraguan Judiciary.
After the murder, Dodanim's family remembers him as a man dedicated to the care of his two children; passionate about taekwondo, in which he won multiple medals at Central American level; and a hard worker and entrepreneur, as he kept innovating in the field of his career to get ahead economically.
In his mother's memories, Dodanim will always be that good son who "always told the truth, who did not like violence and who fought for justice".
Sara Amelia López, mother of Cruz Alberto Obregón López
A call announced the misfortune. Sara Amelia López, mother of protester Cruz Alberto Obregón López, was in Costa Rica on the night of May 30, 2018, when she received a call from her daughter Emy Obregón, who informed her that he had been killed with several bullet impacts to his thorax, neck and back.
"I had days of feeling very sad about what was happening in Nicaragua... without knowing that on May 30 (2018) it would be my turn to receive such hard news, that my youngest son (23 years old) had been taken from me under those circumstances," lamented López in an interview with Radio ABC Stereo.
The GIEI states that "paramilitary groups", who had been summoned by the authorities of the Mayor's Office of Estelí, were the ones who "attacked" the "demonstrators who were participating in the March of the Mothers" that took place in that municipality, which Cruz had attended in the afternoon.
The experts detail that at about 7:45 p.m Cruz "was at the door of the Western Union store, half a block away from Domingo Gadea square, when he was hit by multiple projectiles, most of them to his thorax".
After being wounded, the young man was taken to a Red Cross paramedic post by motorcycle and later to the Adventist Hospital of Esteli, where he died at 8:20 pm.
The woman affirms that, since her son was murdered, it is "as if a part of me also went to the cemetery".
Sara Amelia describes "Crucito" - as he was called affectionately - as an intelligent, studious and hard-working person, who had a bright future ahead of him, since he was studying two careers: Civil Engineering and Renewable Energy Engineering.
Although her son sympathized with the Sandinista Front because his entire paternal family is militant and he was instilled with love for the Revolution, she emphasizes that Cruz changed his perception of the red and black party due to the repression that was deployed since April 2018, added to the murder of his friend and fellow faculty member Orlando Francisco Pérez.
"Orlando's death hurt him a lot... and he became more integrated into the protests," his mother comments.
López notes that after her son's death they are "persecuted" and "besieged" by police patrols and motorized civilians. However, she hopes that "someday" her son's death will get "justice".
Thelma López, sister of Mauricio Ramón López Toruño
Mauricio Ramón López Toruño was murdered on May 30, 2018. His mother’s name did not appear in any media. The voice that carried any statement about his death was that of his sister Thelma Lucía López Toruño, who flatly denied to officialist media that her relative was participating in the demonstrations against Daniel Ortega's regime, which took place in Estelí.
Through a report on Radio Ya, the propaganda media of the Ortega-Murillo regime indicated that Mauricio Ramón received a bullet "to the head". In addition, they highlighted that the victim's sister affirmed that " her brother was not participating in any protest or confrontation at the time of his murder, nor was he a student, but a person who earned his living by working to support his family".
The GIEI details that Mauricio Ramón, 42 years old, received "a shot from a firearm" and was "assisted" at the San Juan de Dios Hospital in Estelí. However, he died during surgery at 10:30 pm.
The experts explain that on the morning of May 30, 2018, "a caravan of pro-government supporters" tried to dismantle the roadblock installed in La Trinidad, Estelí, but part of these did not manage to cross towards Managua and "headed towards the city of Estelí, where they were joined by paramilitaries who would have been summoned by the mayor of the city".
They point out that on the afternoon of May 30, 2018, demonstrators participating in the "March of the Mothers", which began at 04:00 in the afternoon in the city of Estelí, "were attacked by these groups".
Mauricio Ramón's body was buried in the San Francisco de Asís municipal cemetery in Estelí. His family describes and will remember him as a "hard-working, jovial, cheerful and popular person".
In the official report, Thelma stated that "all his family and friends do not assimilate the crime".
As perpetrators of the murder of her relative, the woman signals out "vandals" who attacked him when "he was returning from selling products accompanied by the driver of a pick-up truck, who was also wounded by bullets".
However, the GIEI experts regret that in the case of Mauricio Ramón "the lack of information and the scarcity of alternative sources have prevented further determination of the circumstances of the death".
José Manuel Quintero, murdered in Estelí
The story of how José Manuel Quintero's death occurred has not yet been told. The name of his mother or any other relative is unknown. The number of bullets that caused his death, the part of his body where he was hit, whether he was just another demonstrator protesting against Daniel Ortega's regime or whether the family continues to demand justice are unknown too.
In its report released in December 2018, the Interdisciplinary Group of Independent Experts (GIEI) states that José Manuel Quintero was killed at the age of 28 in Estelí.
Although they do not give details of what caused the death, the experts indicate that Quintero was dead upon arrival at the San Juan de Dios Hospital in Estelí on May 30, 2018.
"The Truth, Justice and Reparation Commission (created by the Sandinista-majority National Assembly) links his death to the context of social protest, placing it in the Tranque la Trinidad, without further details," the GIEI report summarizes.
According to the GIEI report "two conflicts took place, in which the use of firearms and violence was recorded" on May 30, 2018 in the department of Estelí.
They detail that at both the roadblock installed on the North Pan-American Highway, exactly at kilometer 124 in the municipality of La Trinidad, and during the March of the Mothers that took place in the city of Estelí, there were acts linked to "attacks" directed by "paramilitary" people and "shock groups" related to the regime of Daniel Ortega.
The GIEI denounces that despite having requested information from the State of Nicaragua on "the deaths that occurred during the period of its mandate and on the respective investigations, it never received a response".
In the case of Quintero, they emphasize, "the lack of information and the scarcity of alternative sources have prevented them from determining the circumstances of the death to a greater extent ".
Candelaria Díaz, mother of Carlos Manuel Vásquez Díaz
Hours before the murder of her son, Candelaria Díaz managed to hear the voice of Carlos Manuel Vásquez Díaz. In a video published by AMA's Museo de la Memoria, she recounts that her son told her that he was on his way to the Monimbó neighborhood, in Masaya, to visit her on May 30, 2018 for Mother's Day. However, a bullet to the thorax did not allow him to get there.
"He called me early and told me: mom, congratulations... I love you very much... I’ll arrive in the evening. At night, he called me again and told me he was coming home, but by 10:30 p.m. he hadn’t arrived," she said.
The International Group of Independent Experts (GIEI) explains that in Masaya "various incidents occurred in the context of the protests framed in the so-called March of the Mothers, between the forces of the National Police, shock groups related to the Government and demonstrators" on May 30, 2018.
It details that "in the early morning of May 31, Carlos Manuel was transferred by the Red Cross to the Humberto Alvarado Hospital, where he arrived lifeless at 12:15 (in the morning). He had a gunshot wound to the thorax".
The mother recalls that when she learned of her son's death she went to look for him at "La Placita" in Monimbó, where she was told that he was being attended by a group of demonstrators who had improvised a medical post. However, when she arrived the young man had already been taken to the hospital.
"I never imagined the tragedy I was going to find... I thought he had been hit in the leg, in the arm... but I had only been at the hospital for five minutes when a doctor came out to say that there was nothing more to be done for him, that he was already dead", the mother laments.
After Carlos Manuel's death, Candelaria found out that the young man stayed behind supporting the resistance of the population when he was on his way to visit her.
"He saw the boys who were in the struggle and he stayed," she says.
The mother affirms that her son, murdered at the age of 28, is now remembered as a brave, hardworking man, dedicated to his two daughters. Three years after his murder, she continues to demand justice so that "his death does not go unpunished".
This article was originally published in Spanish in Confidencial and translated by Ana María Sampson