ASUNCION – Family members of the 364 people who died and the hundreds who were injured in a fire that broke out at the Ycua Bolaños Supermarket in Asuncion in 2004, remembered Monday their dear ones and expressed their hope of making a memorial of the ruined building currently in the process of being rebuilt.
The mourners commemorated the worst civil tragedy in Paraguayan history with a plea for justice and reparations for the losses suffered, on a day exactly 12 years after the disaster occurred.
Many brought candles and flowers to place in the niches of the memorial to the dead, installed on one side of the burned-out ruins.
Others walked silently in sorrow around the scorched supermarket, parking lot and stairways still today blackened by the smoke, and contemplated the charred remains of the store’s shopping carts, calculators and cash registers.
Between religious ceremonies and musical performances, family members also recalled the six who disappeared in the fire – four women and two men – whose remains were never found.
The fire in the supermarket, located in the Trinidad neighborhood of Asuncion and just a few blocks from the Botanical Garden, broke out on Aug. 1, 2004 at the grill of a restaurant in the establishment as a result of poor maintenance, according to the investigation into the case.
The same study shows that the supermarket’s owner, Juan Pio Paiva, ordered the doors to be closed as soon as he knew about the blaze, in order to avoid robberies.
Paiva was sentenced to 12 years behind bars for intentional homicide, putting people in danger and omission of aid, but in late 2014, after serving eight years in prison, a judge ordered him released for good conduct.
Family members of the victims complained Monday about the evident impunity in the case, for which Paiva’s son was sentenced to 10 years in prison and a supermarket security guard was sentenced to five years, both of whom were given early reprieves.