Marcos Antonio Padilla Díaz
“He was only carrying a slingshot and some marbles”
Murdered in Chinandega on June 6, 2018
Marcos Antonio Padilla Díaz was an 18-year-old kid with an easy smile and brimming energy. He was in his second year of high school in the Chinandega Institute. He loved to dance at the high school get-togethers and in Mothers’ Day gatherings, but his passion was skating and riding bicycle. Every afternoon he would go to the park to skate and his dream was to participate in a competition in Costa Rica and return to Chinandega with a championship skating trophy.
Born in the Roberto González community of Chinandega, he was raised by his grandmother, Argentina García, and two aunts on his mother’s side, Kerling Grisel Oviedo and Mariam del Carmen García. The aunts remember him as “a happy, fun-loving, charismatic and very sociable boy. He had a bit of character and at times was a little rebellious, but what stood out most were his happiness and his smile.”
His grandmother says the boy liked to work and wanted to earn money to build a room alongside her house. “If they called him to clean a yard, he’d do it. He had worked for three years as a guard at a pool hall and had begun to work at a stall that sold plastics in the Central Market,” says doña Argentina.
His aunt Kerling had a very close relationship with Marcos, as she was the one who helped with his school homework. “He wanted to get ahead, to work and open a big store to have his own business and not depend on anyone, to have his own money to buy what he liked, dress well and help his grandmother. He was quite a show-off,” recalls Kerling.
Argentina García describes how Marcos expressed his disagreement when the social security reform was announced, because the law would affect pensioners. “How could they possibly do such a thing, reducing their pension 5%, if what they give them is already is just a pittance?” he asked his grandmother. His indignation only grew when he saw the videos of the attack on a group of elderly in León; that’s when he joined the protests. Marcos told his mom, who lived in Costa Rica, that he was going to the marches to defend his grandmother’s pension.
The night of Wednesday, June 6, paramilitaries and police attacked a march of young independent protesters demanding Daniel Ortega’s resignation. They killed Marcos on a street near the Municipal Government offices. “I didn’t realize he was in the protest and it wasn’t until 9:30 at night that I was told he was dead and that I had to go to the morgue of the España Hospital to identify the body,” says his grandmother. Kerling says they let her know a little before 9 pm, but she had to go out very carefully because there were barricades in the street of the Municipal Government building, near her house, and it was hard to pass.
The morgue required that the family bring a coffin to be able to release the body to them. When they were finally given the body, his grandmother saw that they had stolen everything the boy had on him, his money, his glasses, everything… “The only thing they left was his camouflage trousers, which Marcos loved,” she said. I took them all folded, and they felt heavy. On checking the pockets I found a slingshot and some marbles, the only thing the boys carried to defend themselves from the armed paramilitaries.”
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