The article and photos were originally published with Vice.
January 26, 2015
by Germán Andino
Sagrario waits for us in the darkness of her room in a neighborhood market in Tegucigalpa, the capital of Honduras. She prays for our lives and asks God that our meeting is fruitful while hiding her legs, numb from polio, under a cushion. Her sister, who will be present throughout the interview, is responsible for security here: she came to get us at the neighborhood’s entrance to bring us to the family’s house, closed the windows, locked the gates behind us, sent kids away to play around the house and once in a while, murmurs “Amen” for each prayer Sagrario throws to the sky between her responses.
– What is it like living in a neighborhood controlled by gangs?
– We no longer go outside the house. After 9 p.m. it is already very dangerous. We cannot send our kids alone to the church for fear that something will happen, or that the gangs will recruit them, responds Sagrario.
– Nilson knew that they would kill him if he didn’t pay the rent?
– Yes. He had plans to leave the country. He wanted to take me to the United States with him.
Sagrario met Nilson Medina, who soon after would be her husband, through a friend from a church they attended. At the time, Medina installed audio systems for cars, and this later became his profession.
– What was he like?
– He was very cheerful, very helpful. An excellent father and a huge football fan. He used to love food. On Sundays, market days, he would buy food and we would sit down to watch his favorite team, the Olimpia, from here in Tegus.
– Is it difficult to have your own business in Honduras?
– It is difficult. Getting loans is complicated and you can’t find a guarantor.
– How long did it take you all to set up the studio for electronic facilities
– We saved for two years. We saved up $500, which we invested, and then we moved gradually. After the first rental payment, we had to buy tools for the business, and we even bought a motorcycle for errands.
– What happened to the shop?
– Barrio 18 extorted us. They asked Nilson for payments. First they asked him for the motorcycle and Nilson gave it to them. Then they asked for $50 weekly, which is when the business started to decline. We lost $50 that we could have used to buy shoes and food for our kids.
Later they were asked for $2500. Nilson and Sagrario did not have that amount.
– What did you do to resolve the problem?
– Even with fear, we kept working even though we didn’t want to keep the business open. We had to eat.
One Wednesday at 11 a.m., five days after asking him for money that would have taken years to pay, they killed Nilson Medina. Before he had made even one audio installation that day.
They wanted to make him an example so that the people could see what the gangs were capable of, concludes Sagrario.