Years ago, Victor Martínez was one of the most important members in Lara’s state legislature. Elected as a chavista, he split from the PSUV in 2008 after serious differences with their regional leadership and specially, with former Governor Luis Reyes Reyes.
A year later, his life changed. His son Mijail, a human rights activist, was murdered. The crime was first considered a failed robbery attempt. With the passing time, that theory was proven wrong. Mijail was apparently the victim of a hit job.
Since then, Mr. Martinez has embarked on a crusade to bring those responsible to justice.
The road so far hasn’t been easy for him. Early this year, he survived an attempt on his life. He was already wounded in an incident with kidnappers last year. Joining him is the Comittee of Victims on Violence and Impunity, a local NGO dedicated to denounce the effects of crime and possible excesses by Lara State Police.
During a discussion on justice and security, as part of the recent Encounter of Social Organizations (EOS), Mr. Martínez was selected to be the spokesman for all the participating NGOs in Barquisimeto. He gave his speech via Skype. Even if it went over the established limit of 3 minutes, he left a great impression with the crowd in Caracas, according to the EOS local coordinator.
The discussion in Barquisimeto took on different but related issues. The role of our local police force, the efficency of the Public Ministry, the usefulness of our courts of appeals, all were touched. The coliseos at nearby Uribana prison were also mentioned. Finally, a very concrete proposal came out: preparing a regional encounter of victims of crime and police abuse. Initial meetings about it would begin in the upcoming weeks.
Mijail’s case has been brought to the Inter-American Human Rights Commission, and Mr. Martínez has already asked them for personal protection measures. He’s confident that justice will be done. Two of the shooters are under arrest and currently await trial. The victims’ comittee continues its work, helping relatives and friends of other victims.
The path forward is difficult, but they know their struggle is completely worth it.