Testimony of Silvia Portillo Martínez, mother of Raúl Esteban Portillo, former inmate at the Center Women who visited inmates at the Center had to endure vaginal inspections. Prison personnel checked the young girls because they were bringing marijuana to their boyfriends. The routine is the same at Itauguá. The food they bring with them when visiting was checked and “taken apart.”
The witness visited her son at the Center one day before the fire. The day of the fire, someone came to the witness’ home and told her of a fire at Cellblock 8 of the Center. One of her daughters went to check into what had happened and, when she returned, told her mother that Raúl was the one “in the worst condition.” When the witness went to the hospital, her son was beyond recognition; he was “a monster.” A physician had to tell her that it was her son.
When her son sustained his burns she “was afraid she would go crazy.” The family had lost all hope and practically lived at the hospital, so her house “was somewhat abandoned.” When her son was in intermediate care, he caught an infection because of the burns, which “attracted flies.” As he didn’t have a ventilator, the witness turned to Radio Ñandutí to try to find one.
A number of the youths in the hospital were dying. She, like the rest of her family, was afraid. “She was in shock” and scared that her son’s death might be inevitable. The hospital did not have the equipment needed for the treatment, since the burns unit was just being opened. One doctor asked for the Portillo family and told a family member that the family should “prepare itself because all those […] who [had been] hospitalized were going to die because the hospital did not have equipment.” This family member begged the director of the hospital to get the equipment and went to the press to ask for the burn treatment equipment. That equipment was brought from the United States. Only two of the burned inmates survived, one of whom was her son Raúl. The other survivor, Raúl de la Cruz, died two months later.
The witness suffered greatly in the hospital until “one day I couldn’t take any more” and cried incessantly. On one occasion, the witness was resigned to the fact that she “had watched her son die.” She herself had to be hospitalized. One day they called her and asked to speak with her children. But she was alone at the time. So they told her to prepare herself, because the antibiotics were “not getting to the part of [her son’s] body where the lung inflection [wa]s located” so she had to “prepare herself for [her son’s] death.” Then a specialist from another country examined her son, and prescribed an expensive antibiotic. He told them that if Raúl “lived” until nightfall, he would survive.
When her son was released from the hospital, he was “like a baby” at home; they had to feed him because he couldn’t “manage on his own.” Twice a week her son went to the burns center for treatment. Later he had surgery.
The witness asked the Court to order “restorative” or plastic surgery for her son, to restore her son’s mobility and correct and relieve his burns. She also asked that her son be “rehabilitated of all the after-effects, including the respiratory” after-effects. She would alike like her son to be able to study, as he has been unable to go to school and she does not have the means to make that possible. The witness lives in a property that belongs to someone else; she would like a house of her own, where she has a better chance of finding work.
72. On April 18, 2004, the representatives informed the Court that witnesses Pedro Iván Peña and Raúl Esteban Portillo would not “be attending the […] hearing.” On April 26, 2004, with the Court’s permission (supra para. 48), the representatives sent a video and transcripts of the statements made by Pedro Iván Peña and Raúl Esteban Portillo. That video and the transcripts were not sworn in the presence of a person legally authorized to authenticate statements and documents.13 The following is the Court’s summary of the pertinent parts of those statements: