Orlando Francisco Pérez Corrales
“He can no longer shout ‘goal!’; his death remains unpunished”
Murdered in Estelí on April 20, 2018
Orlando Pérez Corrales was in his final year of university studies in renewable energy engineering. His sister says he already had a job lined up at the Montelimar Sugar Refinery and was thinking of buying a house in El Crucero. He was a member of the Catholic Church’s Youth Pastoral and participated in activities such as the ecological campaign to reforest the Tisey Reserve.
His mother, Socorro Corrales, a teacher, says she regrets having obligated him to go vote in the last elections for those who would later be his killers. Orlando wasn’t interested in politics, even though he was from a Sandinista family: his father was a major in the Sandinista Popular Army in the 1990s and his mother declared herself “Danielista and Chayista to the core.”
The repression against the pensioners and young people protesting the social security reforms was what led Orlando and his family to join the march on April 20 in Estelí. Police and pro-government groups attacked the demonstration, causing the protesters to disperse. Orlando managed to get to the Central Park together with other people and was taking water to students affected by tear gas when he was shot in the thorax. His companions took him to the San Juan de Dios Hospital, but he died on the way.
Following his murder, his mother went out to protest carrying a sign with a photo of Orlando in one hand and flowers in the other. Witnesses and relatives agree that the shots came from the Estelí Municipal Government building. This allegation was presented to the police the night of the crime, but authorities refused to accept the charge and Orlando was buried with only a superficial investigation. Ten days later, due to pressure from the family, the General Prosecutor’s Office agreed to exhume the body to perform an autopsy. It was one more trauma for Orlando’s mother, who believes that investigation was only done for show. “They came to process a crime scene when there were no longer even any traces of blood.”
Orlando had been a fan of the Barcelona Soccer Club and always wore their shirt. “Even when it was still damp on the line, he would put it on,” his mother remembers, and he wore it on the day he would later die.
Socorro Corrales says police stopped Orlando’s relatives on December 12, 2018, who were el visiting the cemetery to commemorate his 25th birthday. “Commissioner Alejandro Ruiz Martínez had made it a crime to put flowers on my son’s grave,” she remarks, bitterly.
After the murder, the Pérez Corrales family was abused by the investigators of the case. Different episodes of harassment and persecution led various family members to flee the country.
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