César Oniel López Vega
“He was a person who fought and died for his country”
Murdered in Chinandega on June 6, 2018
At 25 years of age, César Oniel López Vega didn’t miss a single game when the Tigres, Chinandega’s baseball team, were playing at home. His cousin, Eveling Lourdes López Vega, says he was such a fan that “he even had a card to get into the stadium for free.”
César Oniel and Lourdes grew up like sister and brother in the home of their grandmother, Leoncia Plácida Vega. With tenderness reflected in her face, Lourdes remembers César Oniel for his cooperative, sociable spirit and for being a good neighbor. “He was so nice; he helped all his siblings and though they weren’t really sisters and brothers, there he was, involved in everything… If there were some little scuffle out there, he’d go out to see what was going on and how he could help. He did everyone’s errands for them. He hung out with his friends, chatted with the neighbors and played ball in the neighborhood.”
He was also an exemplary uncle and liked to take care of his two nephews, who shared the same home. “My two kids adored him, and he even washed their clothes,” Lourdes remembers. To help with the household expenses, César Oniel worked in bricklaying and painting, but he also sold sweets in the market and taxied people around on a bicycle modified with a two-wheel seat to transport passengers. He was very beloved in all these jobs.
He had not been back long from a trip to Costa Rica when he joined the marches to protest the 5% cut in pensions for pensioners and the increase in fuel prices, Lourdes explains. The protests organized by Chinandega’s residents, particularly young people, had multiplied and César Oniel liked to go to the marches with his 16- and 17-year-old male cousins. The repression in the city had started on May 10, when Sandinista Youth members and paramilitaries who, protected by the police, had taken over land on a farm called La Pañoleta, began harassing and attacking the demonstrators.
Doña Leoncia remembers that at about 8 o’clock at night on Wednesday, June 6, some boys came to get César to join a rally that had been attacked by paramilitaries and the pro-Ortega mob. “He had come exhausted from work, but given the insistence of his friends, he left his food, put on his shirt and went with them.” She was left at the table, with the dinner served, waiting for his return. It wasn’t until nearly 3:00 in the morning that she learned César Oniel was in the España Hospital’s morgue.
His mother, Azucena Vega, recovered his corpse from the morgue early the next morning and took it to her house, located on the north side of the old railroad station’s lumberyard. She says her son had been shot twice, once in the thorax and once in the abdomen; she also said he had then been dragged by a motorcycle and beaten. Although he was still alive when he was taken to the España Hospital, they did not give him medical treatment. After a funeral Mass in the Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe, César Oniel was taken to Chinandega’s general cemetery, accompanied by neighbors and the blue and white flag, where he was buried.
“He was a person who fought and died for his country,” recalls Evelyn Lourdes. “As he said, ‘I’m going to die defending my country.’”
I want to know more