A message from Ana Montilla, whose husband Juan Almonte is still missing. A member of the Dominican Committee of Human Rights, he disappeared on his way to work on 28 September 2009 in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, after witnesses saw him being detained by police officers. His family still don’t know where he is or what happened to him since.
My name is Ana Montilla. As with every disappeared person’s family, it is impossible to know what my status is. I don’t know whether I am still a wife or whether I am now a widow. The same is true of our children, who do not know whether they still have a father.
We live in a state of conflicting emotions. If he is dead, perhaps it is better if he isn’t found, because it is better to think of him as disappeared than dead. But I also want to know his whereabouts so that if he is alive, we can tell him that we will always be there for him. And if he is dead, we can give him the Christian burial that he deserves as the human being that he is, or was.
Juan was the head of the family, and when he went missing everything fell apart. We began to have financial and other problems.
Living without a response to so many questions, going to bed and tossing and turning until dawn with the same questions running through your head: Why? When? How? Why him? Why us? Why in this day and age does this happen?
You think you live in a democratic society. I thought that my country was governed by the rule of law, and was not a police state where the police even control justice. Where they execute the innocent and the guilty alike on a daily basis. Where, to cover their criminal acts, they plant evidence and fabricate reports. Where an Office of the Prosecutor General, or a Prosecution Service, only act if there is money or someone important involved. All you need is to be in a government position or enlisted in the security forces and you can do whatever you please and remain above the law.
We don’t live; we simply survive, every day and every special occasion without our loved one. Waiting for justice that has been denied us, waiting for a miracle.
It feels horrible having to resort to living abroad because every procedure relating to the case has been denied us in my country. But I know that justice exists somewhere in the world and I will find it. I will fight, so that every single person who was involved pays for their crime, no matter how long it takes.
We are only searching for answers, for justice. May our country, and Juan Almonte’s family in particular, know the truth.