Victor Martinez receives us at seven o’clock in the evening at his home. He makes us a coffee, a filter coffee like in Germany. As if he knew that we would stay for five hours…
Victor Martinez comes from a simple background and is self-taught. There were not many educational opportunities for the working class. Actually, he comes from the Catholic youth of the sixties. But he has always been a revolutionary. He was enthusiastic about Che Guevara. Did not accept any authority. He only held out in the fire department because he could do something useful there. He joined the union and quickly became one of its leaders. He says of himself, I am a typical Llanero, like Chavez, a rebel and a great improviser. He does not believe that it is possible to bring about change in Venezuela through elections, he believes in violence, in a coup.
Since the beginning of 1991, there have been rumors that a military coup might take place. COMACATE, a secret organization of the military has been constituted, has contacts with the FARC. The father of the current Minister of Communications, however, finds them too radical and founds an “Allianza Revoucionaria de Movimentos Sociales” (ARMAS) in Barquisimeto. Also a secret organization of the army. The priests mediate the contact with Victor. But while they are still discussing whether the militaries are not too right-wing, Hugo Chavez coups on February 4, 1992. Victor sees on television the morning after the failed coup attempt how Chavez tells the cameras: “I take responsibility. This impressed him deeply, as no one had ever taken responsibility for anything in this country.
Victor becomes a fiery supporter of Chavez. In preparation for another coup attempt, he mortgages his house, much to the displeasure of his wife. He buys “material,” teaches 30-40 people how to build Molotiv cocktails and radios, teaches urban guerrilla tactics. But the second coup attempt at the end of 1992 also fails. Viktor is arrested, tortured (testicles, blows to the head) and released after a few months. He is one of the founders of the “Movimento Revolucionario Bolivariano” of Barquisimeto and hosts Hugo Chavez as well as another politician and former comrade-in-arms Reyes Reyes several times in his small house. But the revolutionary in him also makes him criticize Chavez. His biggest reproach: there is no line, no program, Chavea himself is the program and that is not enough. It comes to the disruption, he is excluded.
But he is popular and in 2000 he is elected to parliament for 4 years without a party. After he stands by Chavez during the coup attempt against him in 2002, he is taken back in by Chavez. But he does not stop rebelling, he criticizes again. This time he criticizes the corruption of the judiciary and the police. He denounces the government. Chavez banishes him again. This time for good. He is isolated. Old party friends distance themselves. He is elected for another 4 years in 2004 and continues to work to expose local and regional corruption and links to drug trafficking and to fight impunity. Against Reyes Reyes. He is now governor of the state of Lara (capital of Barquisimento) and is responsible for the state’s crimes against its citizens. Reyes Reyes, together with General Rodriguez Figuera, is involved with the Cartel de Miraflores, which threatened Victor with death for the first time in 2008. Further threats follow. Amnesty International appeals in an “Urgent Action” to the responsible authorities of the state of Lara.
On November 26, 2011, it is evening and already dark, Viktor’s son goes outside to the car. His mother sees him suddenly walking slowly backwards with his hands in his pockets. At the same time she sees a man also walking slowly backwards until they reach the position in front of the door of Viktor’s house. Then the man shoots, twice. Mijail dies at only 24 years old because his father rebels against the powers that be. The staging of the killing is a clear sign, it resembles an execution. That is why Victor does not believe in the guilt of the then arrested young man from poor background.
He accuses. He looks for the client. He sets God and the world in motion, blogged and created a video. The whole neighborhood stands by him. He collects evidence, he finds the perpetrators. Since then he has been trying to get justice in court. In March 2011, another assassination attempt takes place, this time on him. Viktor accuses Reyes Reyes of being responsible for it. On January 23 of this year (2012), a third assassination attempt takes place. He accuses publicly, in a newspaper interview. He knows there will be a third attempt, but he is not afraid.
What could be worse than losing his son, he says, his own death could not be worse.
Addendum: in an article published on May 28, 2012 in the daily newspaper of Barquisimeto, Victor Martinez has publicly called to vote against impunity and thus against Chavez: debemos-votar-contra-la-impunidad.pdf. Further Amnesty International issues additional urgent actions in 2013 and in 2015. )