Brayan Odonel Picado Blandón
“It feels like I’m going to wake up and I’ll have him here with me”
Murdered in Jinotega on July 24, 2018
Brayan would have been 21 on May 23, 2019. He was a baker who did not have any children, but had a very close relationship with his brother. His mom, Mayra Felícita Blandón Palacios, recalls that when he was born her eldest son was seven years old and she left him to look after Brayan when she went out to work. “He practically grew up alone with him, the big kid looking after the little one, with me acting as their mother and father all the time,” she says.
“My relationship with Brayan was perfect,” explains Mayra. “He was uncomplicated, very respectful and loving; he even used to tell me I was his girlfriend and that he loved me. He told me that the girls broke up with him because he said he had a woman at home… ‘You’re my love, you’re my girlfriend,’ he’d tell me. Sometimes he’d even get it into his head to pick me up and because he was well-built I’d shout as he hugged me… we had a really lovely relationship.”
She describes him as “a handsome boy, because my boy was nice, humble, respected me, the neighbors and his friends…. Like any mother who thinks her children are lovely, my son was perfect in my eyes.”
Brayan liked soccer and was in a team and he also sometimes went to play Nintendo. “Although he was 21, he liked things that small children do,” Mayra says. “He wasn’t a kid who was going to come back from drinking at a party at two in the morning; nothing like that!”
He dreamed of studying a short course because there are not any job opportunities in today’s Nicaragua anyway, and so he started working in a bakery and helping his mother out with the household costs, giving her 600 or 700 Córdobas (approximately USD 18-20) a week.
Brayan learned to make breads such as picos and bonetes and all kinds of cookies. “He told me he wanted to learn confectionary, but unfortunately Daniel Ortega took him from me,” adds his grief-stricken mother.
On the day he was murdered, Brayan left early for work. At about six in the evening, the Sandino neighborhood started filling up with police and Mayra went to the bakery to tell her son not to come home yet as a precaution.
One hour later there was a clash between independent anti-government protesters and police officers, the former armed with stones and the latter with guns, which lasted until night-time. Early in the morning a neighbor told her there were three dead people in their neighbourhood. “Be strong, doña Mayra,” she said, “because your son’s there.” Mayra did not believe it, but went to look for him and saw him stretched out on the ground. She did not have the strength to do anything.
“I went down,” she recalls. “I don’t know who gave me a blue and white flag [the national flag, which became a symbol of the protests] and I went from police officer to police officer telling them, ‘Thank you for having killed my son.’ I did it to vent my rage, to express my pain… At that moment a bunch of kids started fighting the police and I ended up in the middle of the gunfire. A short policeman said to me, “Get out of the way you old so and so if you don’t want me to kill you,” and he threw me against a wall. Then I went back to where my son was and some people helped me to get him. We held his wake at my mom’s and at ten in the morning I took him to a chapel in the same community where we held a mass for him and the burial was at one.”
“When I saw he was dead, I lay down with him on the ground,” she explains. “I said he was sleeping because I never expected my boy to be dead….”
Mayra says that “there has to be ‘earthly and heavenly justice’” and she finds comfort in Brayan’s legacy. “For me, remembrance is recalling everything that happened to my son,” she explains. “What I’m going through seems like a dream to me…. it feels like I’m going to wake up tomorrow and I’ll have him here with me.”
She concludes by stating, “They say the dead really die when you forget them, but for me, my son is still alive. I’d send out the message not to forget our kids, to keep them in our hearts, because they’re heroes and we’re going to have a free Nicaragua because of them.”
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