f) Testimony of María Teresa de Jesús Pérez, mother of Mario del Pilar Álvarez Pérez, former inmate at the Center The witness’ son, Mario del Pilar Álvarez Pérez, was being detained in the Center. Mrs. Pérez’ family is poor and needed a considerable sum of money to get her son released from the Center. Finally, a lawyer told them that her son was to be released on Thursday, February 10, 2000; but he was never released and, in the early morning hours on Friday, was burned in the fire.
The witness learned of the fire by way of the television. She went to the hospital and found that her son was in very grave condition. He had burns over his entire body and there was no medication at that time. They told her to buy antibiotics and blood, but she had “not one guaraní”. Her elder sister, however, gave her the money. She sold everything she had so that she could do everything possible for her son. Eight days later, the electric power at the hospital went out four times and her son began to tremble. She was with him when he died. At the time of his death, Mario del Álvarez Pérez was “18 [years old], today he would have been 25.” She said that she had been deeply affected because she is a mother. She also said that she grieves for all the young children who were burned in the fire.
The Center was said to be a satanic place. During her visits to the Center her son told her confidentially that the inmates were hungry, cold, had little or no clothing and were tortured and beaten. The Center was about a mile and a half from her house and the visit was for a half hour. For a visitor to get in, she was required to take off her clothing so that it could be checked. The Center appeared to be clean, and her son was seen by a physician because he had chest problems.
She thought of her son every Sunday, because Sunday was the day she visited him. In order to be able to bring him something, she sold anything she could. At the time of her affidavit, her partner had died just 22 days earlier. She herself suffered from high blood pressure, asthma and insomnia, and “wants to join her son.” Her son helped her with his siblings; “he was like the father.” She added that she would never forget what happened to her son, as it is a pain indelibly impressed upon her heart and nothing can relieve it. She has a framed photograph of her son at home always, so as never to forget his face.
She asked the Court to provide “all possible assistance,” as she is alone with nine children and does not want them to go hungry or in need. She wants something better for her children, so that they do not go the way of her son Mario. She also wants to find a resting place for her son’s body, as all the bodies are going to be removed from the cemetery. She does not have funds to pay for a vault. She therefore requested that a “vault [be made] for her son’s body.” Finally, she asked for justice and to know the reason for the fire at the Center and why her son didn’t come out alive.
71. On April 6, 2004, the representatives sent the Court the testimony of Mrs. Silvia Portillo Martínez, in response to the President’s order of March 2, 2004 (supra para. 42). That statement was not made in the presence of a person legally authorized to authenticate documents and statements (infra para. 86). The Court will now summarize the relevant parts of her statement.