14ymedio, Yoani Sánchez, Havana, 15 July 2023 — Yesmely Peña Rondón’s voice sounds broken and fearful over the phone. She is locked in a room with her sister, her mother and her nephew trying to stay alive despite the death threat they all received. Her crime: being the aunt of Rosmery Ponce Peña, 23, murdered on July 10 by her ex-partner in Güines, Mayabeque province.
“He’s still on the run, they can’t find him,” Peña Rondón told 14ymedio about the alleged murderer, José Luis Domínguez Velázquez. The man, who seems to have coldly calculated the crime, waited until Ponce Peña was visiting a friend to shoot her in the head through a window. “She arrived at the hospital alive, but she was no longer conscious,” says the aunt.
“Now we are all in a room, alone, locked because he threatened to kill us,” details the woman who regrets not having received any police protection so far. In the vicinity of the Amistad sugar mill, the family fears that the young woman’s murderer will break into the house at any moment and shoot them. “Our house is isolated and people are afraid to visit us.”
The family reports that they do not know details of the weapon used to kill Ponce Peña, although they have heard rumors that it is a shotgun owned by Domínguez Velázquez. The day Rosmery Ponce Peña was murdered, her two-year-old boy “was not with her because he stayed with his grandmother. He has many problems, when he wants to attract attention he hits his head on the ground and doesn’t speak. We believe he is traumatized by the abuses he experienced with his father.”
“They are calling us from a number and when we pick up there is a man who laughs, he just laughs and does not say anything. We have reported it to the police but they do nothing,” she adds from the confinement to which they are forced by fear that the murderer will return for new victims.
Tired of the beatings and mistreatment, a few days ago the young woman decided to break off the relationship and called her family to get her out of the abuser’s house. Before they left there, José Luis Domínguez Velázquez issued a warning: “don’t worry, I’m going to kill you all.” The fateful prediction has begun to come true and the family fears that the murderer will complete it.
But before she was shot, Rosmery Ponce Peña dreamed of “rebuilding her life,” her aunt recalls. “She was looking for work, she hoped to work snack bar,” she details. She “wanted to focus on her son” despite the fact that the abuser had warned her that without him “she would never be happy.” The first thing that Domínguez Velázquez tried to kill was her hope and then he continued with her body.
The moment of separation was hard, says the aunt. “He didn’t want to give us anything, not even the child’s crib. The child is now sleeping on a mattress on the floor and we don’t even have our clothes,” recalls Peña Rondón. The alleged murderer lives four kilometers from the family home and “his whole life has been dedicated to doing [informal] business.”
His good relations with local police, about which he bragged about in public, heighten the family’s fears that he will get away with it. Several reports, compiled from relatives and neighbors, point to Domínguez Velázquez as a “snitch” who reported on what the residents of the area were doing.
“He was always surrounded by policemen who, in addition, did business with him. The guy was a door in two directions, he played being ‘one of the people, but we all knew that everything that was said in front of him ended up being known,” adds a resident of Güines who prefers anonymity. “He was always bragging and the worst thing is that he fulfilled part of his bragging.”
Domínguez Velázquez frequently beat his wife, according to family reports. “Every so often we had to go to their house, we filed a complaint for mistreatment but we had to withdraw it because he told us that if he went to jail he would only be in jail for one year and he was going to kill us when he got out,” recalls the aunt. .
The alleged murderer is also considered a person “with many resources.” Domínguez Velázquez, 49, “had the money in bags, we have also learned that he had a criminal record of robbery, rape and car accidents with deaths.” That economic solvency could help him leave the island. The family has heard rumors that he is preparing his escape through Mexico, but this suspicion has not been confirmed.
Before that fateful day, Rosmery Ponce Peña dreamed of giving her son what she never had. “She wanted to be happy because she could never be happy with that man, during the three years they were together. He didn’t even let her contact her family, he pushed them away,” denounces the aunt. “They met at a party in the park in the town. At first it seemed like it was good, but it turned out to be nothing good.”
Now, locked in a room with her relatives, Yesmely Peña Rondón insists that the attacker calculated everything: “It was a planned murder, he said it on several occasions and he fulfilled it, unfortunately he fulfilled it.”
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