"Sadness" by Albert Besnard. Via Wikimedia Commons.

Puerto Rico: On the young man who killed his mother

Following the news of the murder of a young woman by her son, Giuseppe attempted to understand the root of his pain and the pain of others. From his work came a written judgement that reached hundreds of people and touched many hearts.
Giuseppe Zaffaroni

The level of violence in Puerto Rico is very high (as of yesterday, we’ve had 300 homicides this year, and our population is 3 million people) and oftentimes it is young people who are either victims or perpetrators: violence against others (especially in the world of drugs and within families), or violence against themselves via suicide. For me this is a particularly dramatic challenge because I work in a university, precisely with young people, and I experience first-hand this emptiness, this helplessness, and this alternating between numbness and violence, all which challenge and provoke me continuously, but which also hurt me.

Perhaps this is why I was left restless before the news of the murder of a young mother (36 years old). She attempted to raise her son on her own as best as she could, trying to make him want for nothing, only to lose him to bad company and be fatally wounded by the boy (16 years old) who then hid her corpse and tried to go on living as if nothing had occurred.

All around me, however, among people, on the radio, or in the news, I did not perceive the same awareness of the drama of this fact; I only heard discussions regarding judicial issues linked to the prosecution of minors or scandalized outcries against the “monster.”

Then the FBI’s reports on government corruption swept the whole thing away…

The judgement attached was born from me. I initially jotted it down on paper because I needed to try to understand the root of this pain within me, within that mother, within that son. Then I showed it to my friend Daniel, and he said we needed to pass it around because there had been a level of indifference among us. We shared it in different group chats on WhatsApp and we published it on our CL Facebook page and on that of the Catholic Radio program (“Desafiandos Criterios”) which I speak on every Wednesday. We obviously also discussed it on the program.

The piece was read to hundreds of people, and it was commented on and shared by many (153 people sent it on to others). Among all the responses we received, I would like to share the following two.

A man wrote, “Boredom is the worst issue of our youth. They go on seeking the purpose of life. We must help them in their search. What a tragic episode.”

The other surprising reaction I wish to share is that of Claribel Maldonado, the spokesperson of the “Mujeres por Puerto Rico” association. She wrote to me:

“Dear brother and professor. Thank you for the reflection that you published about the mother who was recently killed. We haven’t wanted to publish anything in our forum, because being mothers with children of the same age, the pain and emotion is too strong and we didn’t want to speak just to speak, but to build up. Thank you for putting into words many of those things that respond to our profound restlessness and our common fight to honor human dignity and the family in such a tragic and complicated context."

Read the judgement: