Celia Capira, the drama of the mother who ran after the President of Peru

The Citizen
6 min readAug 7, 2020


In the midst of her pain, the mother of three children asked the head of State to equip more hospitals in Arequipa, more specialized doctors and more medicines

“Mr. President, you have to go to the tent, Mr. President you have to go to the tent, you have to go see the tent (…) why are they letting you go? (…) Mr. President, don’t go!”, Celia Capira cried desperately and tearfully as she ran through the streets of the city of Arequipa, the afternoon of last Sunday, July 19.

Celia was trying to reach the van in which the Peruvian president, Martín Vizcarra, was travelling in, to ask him to approach the tent located on the outskirts of a hospital center that is crowded with people infected with COVID-19. And also to beg him for a bed for her husband who was dying because of the coronavirus.

The drama of Celia, a humble 33-year-old merchant woman and mother of three children, turned into a tragedy when her husband, Adolfo Mamani, 57, ended up in the aforementioned tent without being properly attended in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU).

The tear-stained face as she desperately asked the President for help, wearing a mask and face shield to protect herself from the virus, went viral in the Peruvian media and social networks, a situation that at the same time reflects the despair of hundreds of thousands of Peruvians demanding answers from the governmental authorities.

“President, you have to go to the tent (erected because of the coronavirus emergency next to the hospital to receive more patients), do not leave the hospital without seeing the conditions they are in (the sick)”, Celia shouted as the presidential delegation was leaving.

“Why don’t you let him go? Think about your families!”, Celia said as she added: “A lot of people are getting infected (…) I have my husband ill (…) The same thing is going to happen, we all have a family (…) Mr. President, why are you bad and inhuman ?!”, she said when she saw that none of those who work for the president deigned to listen to her pleas.

The persecution through the streets of Arequipa that Celia undertook behind the van in which Vizcarra was leaving the Honorio Delgado hospital was recorded in a video.

Celia: icon of Peruvian suffering

After the incident with the head of State, Mrs. Celia Capira has become an icon that reflects the suffering, pain and anguish of Peruvians in the midst of the pandemic caused by COVID-19.

The shocking images of that afternoon show a woman desperate for the life of the sick and especially for her husband, who despite having been diagnosed with the disease of the new coronavirus, was kept on the street in a sanitary tent without giving him admission to the Intensive Care Unit.

Celia was never heard by Vizcarra, who assures that he was not aware of her presence. Unfortunately, her effort to get the president’s attention was futile. Two days later, on Tuesday, July 21, her husband — Mr. Adolfo Mamani Tacuri, 57 — died suddenly while doctors assured her that he was stable and did not require intensive care.

“They have killed him, they have killed him, he was fine (…) here the Government retaliates against me and against my husband (…) they told us that he was stable, in the morning I brought him breakfast”, said Celia indignantly, who considers they killed him as a retaliation against her. In turn, she denounces the doctors for the lack of care in hospitals where there are no beds or oxygen to save the sick.

According to the Peruvian media, Mr. Mamani was not admitted to the hospital because there were really no beds available to attend to him, since the COVID-19 pandemic has unleashed the saturation of hospital centers, overflowing with hundreds of thousands of infected people.

After the media outlined what Mrs. Celia had done for her husband, the authorities in Arequipa promised to transfer Mamani Tacuri to a bed in the intensive care unit; but they never complied.

Mr. Manami was admitted on Tuesday, July 14 due to breathing problems, fever and cough; He was waiting for a bed outside the Honorio Delgado Espinoza hospital, where his health worsened and died a week later.

Celia does not know how, from one moment to another, her husband died

In statements to the Peruvian media RPP Noticias, Mrs. Celia stated that the staff who attended her husband always told him that he was stable. “Today I brought him breakfast and they told me that he was stable, with a temperature of 93F”, said Celia the same day of his death.

Tearfully, she said no doctor gave her information about how her spouse passed away. “It is negligence, I don’t know what it was, nobody explained what happened to me. I tried to find someone to give me information about the circumstances of his death, but nobody explained it to me”.

In the midst of her pain, she asked President Vizcarra to equip the Arequipa hospitals with more medical personnel. “Please put more specialized doctors, please; this pain is too much. Also more medicines”, she said.

She also addressed the Minister of Health, Pilar Mazzetti, to whom she asked for help. “Madam Minister, please help us, our families are dying. My husband is dead, please investigate. It is negligence”.

Under pressure from the media, President Vizcarra said the following about this case: “I did not listen to Mrs. Celia on Sunday, I was not aware of her in the middle of the chaos and turmoil. How can I not listen to her if it is part of my way of being? It is part of what I instill in this government. I sincerely apologize for not having listened to her . The death of all the people who have suffered the COVID19 hurts us as if they had been our own”.

Mrs. Celia replied to the president, not elected by popular vote but imposed by Congress, as follows: “Apologies are not just for me, it is for all of Peru”.


The mother of three children described regional authorities as “incompetent” and asked Vizcarra to investigate the death of her husband. “The damage is being done to all of Peru; it is not a single person, the president has to see this reality. This is a damage done to all society and the most affected are small entrepreneurs, poor people”, said Capira.

At this time, Mrs. Capira is with her children isolated in their home, in the Arequipa district of Alto Selva Alegre, because they also tested positive for COVID-19.

“He (Martín Vizcarra) is the ‘father’ of the country and a father gives his life for his children. My husband gave his life for Arequipa and for all of Peru. Many people are dying, not only with this virus, but also from other diseases. We pay our taxes and it is not fair that we are begging for hospital care”, added Celia.

For now, she and her family — according to the Peruvian media — would be receiving support from the Ministry of Women to overcome the situation. As of July 30, Peru is the seventh country with the highest number of people infected with COVID-19, surpassing the number of 395,000 positives, with more than 18,600 deaths, according to the interactive map of Johns Hopkins University.



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