The daughter and mother of Ashley Marie Torres Feliciano saw the confined young woman five years ago, for the last time, during the only visit they have been able to make to the correctional center. However, two days before Christmas, they met again through a giant screen, and, in their brief conversation, words of gratitude and affection reigned.
“I love you… Nashaly (Torres Feliciano’s daughter) you are beautiful. Let’s see if this miracle is fulfilled. I’m super anxious and super desperate. I would like to spend this Christmas with you, but we are going to see what happens this week to see if you will give us that answer that I am waiting for so much, ”the 28-year-old told her family.
Torres Feliciano was sentenced, in 2009, to serve 111 years in prison after being found guilty of, allegedly, being a coatora, along with her then partner, of the murder of her brother. In recent weeks, a campaign emerged for Governor Wanda Vázquez Garced, before leaving office, to pardon the young woman who has been imprisoned since she was 16 years old.
“Mommy, thank you for always being there and for taking care of my daughter. Despite all the things that have happened, you will always be my mother. It doesn’t matter what happened because it is past; we are in the present ”, he told his mother, Lucrecia Feliciano.
In the exchange of words she had with her daughter Nashaly Enid Quirindongo – who at the time of the events was two years old – the inmate was impressed by the growth of the now 13-year-old teenager.
Feliciano specified that Quirindongo is reserved and that, on few occasions, she talks about her mother.
“She is quiet. He doesn’t tell me about his mommy; it seems that she carries it inside. She watches the news … but she hasn’t told me anything. I don’t know, if maybe when his mommy comes out, it will be an emotion (for Quirindongo) ”, said Feliciano in an interview with Primera Hora.
However, she is sure that this meeting will serve to open a dialogue about Torres Feliciano. He indicated that the teenager was unaware of the reason why her mother had been imprisoned until a while ago, when the case began to resurface in the media.
This meeting, like that of ten other families, arose from an alliance between the Azriel Foundation of the former Reguetonero and pastor Héctor Delgado and the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (DCR) to deliver gifts to the children of the inmates and in order to that they share, virtually, with their loved ones despite the physical distancing imposed by COVID-19.
For his part, Torres Feliciano told his mother, with great pride and emotion, that he still keeps the promise of growing his hair.
“When I went to see her, I told her: ‘You won’t cut your hair and I’m not going to cut it because you’re going to go out,'” Feliciano recalled, noting that they will do it together after their daughter is released.
For this mother and grandmother, these years have been complex due to the loss of her son and the sentence of Torres Feliciano.
“It is not easy to continue struggling with the baby thinking about me and what I lost,” he highlighted with tears in his eyes.
The man named as the person who inflicted the fatal wound, Steven Quirindongo, was convicted of attenuated murder and sentenced to 100 years less in jail than Torres Feliciano.
“Please, Governor. I ask you on my knees and before God that they give me that pardon to my daughter. If she (Vázquez Garced) says yes, it will be the most beautiful gift that she is going to give me, ”said Feliciano.
The promise of reunion
In the same way that Puerto Rican families this Christmas Eve or tomorrow – Christmas Day – will celebrate in small groups or virtually, inmates of the Bayamón Correctional Complex saw – many of them for the first time since March – their children and relatives.
“I was sleeping because I thought they weren’t going to come and, for now, they told me they were there (their parents and four of their six children) … I found a great surprise. (I am) very excited, ”Franscheska Morales Rodríguez told Primera Hora, who has been under the guardianship of DCR for almost three years.
Before the start of the pandemic, her children – who reside in Ponce – visited her frequently, and, in addition to hugging and kissing them, she enjoyed them telling her about everything that was happening with her family.
“I hope that, this new year, the pandemic ends so I can see my children … If God allows it, I will be with them again,” emphasized the mother of six children between 2 and 11 years old.
Morales Rodríguez was sentenced to 21 years in prison after allegedly murdering her then partner in self-defense. However, in April of next year, she will be tried again due to the recent determination of the Supreme Court of Puerto Rico that establishes that all criminal cases with serious crimes must be resolved unanimously.
“Children always ask their mother: ‘Mommy, when are you going to be with us so you can take us to the beach or take us to the park?’ The mother looks at me and says: ‘Don’t worry, I’m going to leave here at any moment, ”commented the children’s maternal grandfather, Marcos Morales.
In the same way, he stressed that he talks, by phone, with his daughter almost daily. In these conversations, Morales Rodríguez always tells him: “You make me strong and I make you strong.”
“He learned to draw there (laughs) … I send him pens; I send her everything so that she can write and get involved… Hope is the escape she has, ”Morales said.
Although the inmate’s parents are divorced, they have come together to raise their grandchildren and “give strength” to their daughter.
Feel family support
“What we try to do here is for the inmates to click again on what family is. Many times the inmate has these mental battles: ‘They have left me alone. Where will the family be? What will be happening? I’ve seen them for a long time. ‘ It is strong to be confined and separated from the family, and not receive visits because of what is happening with COVID-19 ”, Julio Ramos, former Reguetonero and member of the Azriel Foundation, explained to this medium.
The DCR banned family visits in penal institutions at the beginning of the pandemic. They were available for two to three weeks in October, but due to executive order restrictions, they were canceled.
In the case of Vanessa Pizarro, who will serve five years in prison in January, she was one of the few who received a hearing in October from at least one of her children; interacted with him through glass. He hadn’t seen his daughter since March. However, he specified that none of these encounters replace daily life, taking them to school or studying with them.
“When I go out and can share with them, I will cherish every minute of my life with them. I want to dedicate myself to them, my family and my husband, ”said the 45-year-old inmate.
Right in front of the town hall of Canóvanas, the children were reunited with their mothers amidst gifts, Christmas trees and a Santa Claus sleigh. However, despite what one would believe, these objects fell into the background, as they focused on the screen that provided them with the image of their mothers, who, in addition to emphasizing that they loved them, expressed to them that there was less time to spend. together.