What happened next was a miracle of efficiency. Within 17 days of opening the case, three soldiers were arrested. The bullets were traced to Rodriguez, 22, who was charged with murder and imprisoned. The two others, including the officer who ordered the unit to shoot, were suspended from the army and released on bail awaiting trial, charged with covering up a crime and abuse of their office.
It was a triumph, of sorts, for Wilfredo. But not enough. The man who killed his son had only been following orders.
There were three officers involved in the alleged cover-up, Enamorado told Wilfredo. One told the soldiers to lie, another switched the weapons and another claimed he had never been informed of the shooting.
The lieutenant colonel who allegedly ordered the weapons exchanged, Reynel Funes, had been vetted by the U.S. government. In 2006, the U.S. paid for Funes to attend the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, Calif., where he earned a master’s degree in defense analysis. Earlier he had received training at the then-School of the Americas in Ft. Benning, Georgia.
The military has denied any wrongdoing on the part of the officers.
“All this about lies and switching the weapons is a novel,” said army spokesman Lt. Col. Jeremias Arevalo. “We have given the prosecutor everything he has requested from the first day.”
“We are a responsible and serious armed force, and we are against impunity.”
Wilfredo doesn’t think so. After months of pushing, he persuaded the prosecutor two weeks ago to investigate the roles of the officers, and to figure out what happened with the guns used to shoot his son. He has petitioned the government to take the army off the streets through a constitutional amendment.
He prays his country will shake off years of corruption and dysfunction, that someday, people won’t be afraid to leave their gated communities at night, and that a boy will be able to test the limits of freedom without fear for his life.
He prays he will not be killed for speaking out.
“I’m not only reacting to the impotence that my son’s death made me feel,” he said. “I can’t allow for rights to be violated, and even less if it’s my family’s right to life.”
• Associated Press writer Martha Mendoza in Santa Cruz, California contributed to this report.