Rosario Porto: depression, guilt and suicide




«I feel exhausted, I sleep badly (…) I have had suicidal ideas in the last year, I took pills and ended up in the hospital. I was only looking for the affection of my people. My parents are to feed them separately. I am very irritable with my daughter, it bothers me. One day I fix myself and another I don’t.

The day the lawyer Rosario Porto stepped foot in jail in September 2013, accused of the murder of her daughter Asunta, 12 years old, already had a long history of visiting psychiatrists with a peculiarity: his inconstancy. Either he abandoned the treatments or he turned his back on the doctor and chose another. Four years before her daughter’s crime, she was admitted to a mental hospital for suicidal ideation for two days. He asked for discharge after admitting that he could not bear the weight of the world. Antidepressants and anxiolytics were just as much a part of her bag as were creams and expensive makeup.

“I am no longer a mother.” Those were the last words that the lawyer Rosario Porto whispered to her friend Teresa in freedom at the gates of the Santiago funeral home where little Asunta had just been cremated. It was 12:20 on September 24, 2013 when a couple of civil guards arrested her for her involvement in the disappearance, death and abandonment of the body of her daughter Asunta.

The girl’s lifeless body was found at dawn on the 22nd, lying in a ditch, a few hours after Charo and her ex-husband, the journalist Alfonso Basterra, denounced her disappearance. They had suffocated her. She had previously been drugged with benzodiazepines for three months. Both were sentenced to 18 years in prison for malicious murder, a sentence confirmed by three courts. Charo even resorted to constitutional Court, which did not admit his appeal.

Seven years later, the 50-year-old lawyer has hanged herself in a cell in the Brieva women’s prison, after several previous attempts or pseudo-attempts. No daughter, no parents, no husband, no brothers, no one. Alone and in the midst of the intermittent bouts of depression that she suffered from her youth. Perhaps, also of guilt, although he has never admitted to having killed Asunta and every year he continued to publish an obituary in the Galician press on the anniversary of the crime.

The only daughter of a model and successful couple from Santiago, a lawyer and an Art History teacher, she always felt neglected despite the whims her parents gave her. He studied law, but hardly practiced. His life was ideal in appearance. A beautiful house, money to spare, a husband, a gifted Chinese adopted daughter. “I am cultured, I speak two languages, I lived in France, I don’t like heart programs”. That’s how it was defined, four years before everything fell apart.

In the last year of Asunta’s life, Charo ended her marriage to journalist Basterra, who spied on her and flooded her mail with notes bordering on harassment. He had even smashed a door to the house. Basterra took care of any practical family matter, incapable as she was to assume responsibilities beyond her whims and her unstoppable social life. They both planned to kill the little girl, an extraordinary girl who stood out in everything she did and the one they had adopted in China twelve years earlier. They had prepared a perfect nest for him and an enviable life, which they ended cruelly and seemingly without remorse. The mobile remains an enigma, despite the fact that the creature suffered a “blatant” neglect in recent months and had become a nuisance.

Anti-suicide protocol

In prison, the emotional ups and downs of the murderous lawyer have been a constant. Six times they have applied the antisuidic protocol. When she was well, flirtatious to the limit, she did her hair and nails, she put on makeup. On bad days, it was common to see her as a lost soul, disheveled and without a shower.

The one that had been honorary consul of France, who traveled to Porto, Madrid, Paris or Vienna to go shopping or to the opera or to an art fair, had become a shadow of that woman. Her conversation and her culture were used to attract her fellow prisoners, whom she helped carry out prison arrangements. Sometimes: sometimes it disappeared. “She aspired to much more,” concluded some of the psychiatrists and psychologists who treated her. She wanted to oppose the diplomatic career, she considered studying Art History, opposing the European Union, but she ended up devoured by herself in a cell. “It was as worthwhile to die as it was to continue living,” she said when she was 18 years old.

Despite all her mental state the day she suffocated her daughter in Teo’s large chalet, inherited from her parents, “it did not affect her capacity for understanding, judgment, social behavior and self-control.” Nothing, the specialists concluded, neither his obsessive-compulsive traits nor his depression altered his ability to differentiate between good and evil.

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