A family from Carbonal de San Roque de Grecia in Alajuela will vote this April 3 in the second round between José María Figueres and Rodrigo Chaves with a knot in their hearts because the elections marked them for life 44 years ago.
Doña María Cecilia Gómez, 90, affectionately known as Chila, lost her husband, Jacinto Paniagua Rodríguez when the latter, who was the administrator of her city, tried to ensure that no one was left without a vote.
Every four years since February 5, 1978, she and the seven of her eleven children still alive, relive the pain.
Don Jacinto, 51, died in an accident while taking several neighbors to the elections in which Rodrigo Carazo of the Coalition-Unity party won against Luis Alberto Monge.
For those close to him, Don Jacinto died defending the Greeks’ right to vote.
“He was a liberator at heart, he was one of the first to vote, he got up early that day, he was very excited because he had always liked to participate in the campaigns”, recalls Doña Chile.
One of don Jacinto’s tasks was not to drag people; however, he was always ready to collaborate on anything.
“An official from the reception councils asked him to go to San Luis de Grecia for a family that had to vote in San Roque and who did not have the resources to mobilize, it was about eight kilometers away,” said said Doña María.
For Don Jacinto, no one could stay without voting, especially if it was for his party, so he got into his military green Jeep and drove off.
In San Luis, Doña Juana Miranda Salazar and Mario Corrales Bogantes, in addition to their children, the twins Ligia Mayela and Franklin were already waiting for him. They had been told that a very important person in town was coming to pick them up, so they hurried so as not to delay the trustee.
Also in the car were a very dear friend of Don Jacinto, Gilberto Bolaños González, and a girl named Lilliam, who was a table guide.
It was 3:30 in the afternoon when they crossed Los Ángeles Arriba to San Luis, along a very narrow gravel road, this was a route that people who know the area used because it served as a shortcut to go to San Roque.
When reaching the bridge over the San Juan River, which is in a curve, the Jeep went sideways against a wall, don Jacinto tried to straighten it to avoid the accident, but it ended up on the other side from the street, the tires of the Jeep were in the air, the car spun and fell to the bottom of the river.
The people who were in the car with don Jacinto managed to get out, don Gilberto was beaten up, even though everyone tried to get the trustee out of the car, it was impossible.
“When the Red Cross arrived they couldn’t do anything, he was dead, his arm was in a squeeze and his head was under water, he couldn’t defend himself,” the lady said.
Although Mrs. Chila always went with her husband, that day he did not take her, according to her, her husband was like clockwork, punctuality was very important to him and that day he went was arranged to come back at 3 o’clock in the afternoon, so that she began to feel something and to feel very uneasy.
“After a while the news reached the city that there had been an accident with my husband’s car, and not for what, I ran to the hospital in Grecia and when I was When I arrived, I asked the guard, ‘what happened to the accident in San Luis?’, he told me that the driver was dead”, recalls Doña María Cecilia.
“At that moment, I felt like I was dying,” he added.
Don Gilberto was admitted to hospital for his injuries and Juana and Mario took them to vote in another car.
“That day changed my life, too many years have passed, but I still miss my husband, I still keep him in my heart, I give him masses and I pray for him, now my children take me to vote at the first turn because my husband inherited the love of the country”, he assured.
“He was a good husband and a good father, all I would give to live, the elections don’t bring me so much joy anymore, they are rather difficult, for my husband and at the time it was a real celebration .”
Don Jacinto has done many good things for the community and that is why his family is very dear to him, he helped to provide electricity and water during the arrival of the ICE, he installed the first public telephone, it helped with the school and the sports square.
“Not only do we mourn my husband, but also many people in the community,” said Doña María.
On February 5, the family celebrated the annual Mass for Don Jacinto. María Isabel Paniagua, daughter of don Jacinto, remembers that when her father died she was seven years old.
“That day my dad didn’t have to pull people, but he was too nosy, as soon as he knew there was a family that needed help to vote, he ran over. offered because he was a fighting man, devoted by the people and of those who never said no to anything,” said the girl who is affectionately known as Maritza.
“My father was unique, a hunter, a peasant, I remember him with great love.”
“Everyone loved dad, because of his drive, and even more so during elections, he was a shovel so that the houses didn’t get flooded when it was raining hard. Something very hard is that every every time my father celebrates a year of death, my brother Gerardo has a birthday,” he said.
Maritza assures that his father was so loved that he was named the township’s favorite son and the school is named after him.
According to the family of Don Jacinto, to the point of selling roosters, in addition, some collaborations of neighbors in 1960 with 15,000¢ managed to build the small school in town.
Many children who only worked on the coffee plantations found themselves in the classrooms to study. A year after the death of Don Jacinto, a deputy from Alajuel asked to be given the name of the administrator and to this day it remains, Doña Maritza told us that they remodeled it instead, now it is taller and he is handsome, her father would be happy to see her
“They were going to carry out very nice activities to inaugurate it, but with the pandemic it was not possible,” the girl said.
At present, the small school of “Don Jacinto” serves as a reception table to vote, where his wife, children and many friends vote.
“When we said goodbye to my dad, I remember the lines of cars going for several miles, people walking home, the affection was too much for him and for us,” he said.
The daughter commented that it was very difficult for them to move on after her father’s death; however, their mother fought for them and they all became good people.
The story of don Jacinto and what he did for the city has been passed down from generation to generation.
Doña Chila has a painting in her home with an image of her and her husband that she keeps like a treasure, for her it is one of the memories that brings her closer to him, the more she misses him for so many years and wishing no one had happened to her.