Friday, May 22, 2009

Roberto Martinez Presente! Human Rights Community Leader Passed Away Wednesday May 20, 2009

Dear NNIRR Members, Partners, Allies & Friends,


Please remember Roberto Martínez, human rights community frontline organizer who died earlier this week, in your thoughts, prayers and organizing for justice and human rights. We urge you to send condolences to his family and community and consider making a generous as possible donation to help his family with the costs incurred during his health crisis and funeral.


NNIRR members note Roberto’s passing with sorrow and send their deepest condolences to his family and community.


Roberto Martínez played a significant role in the immigrant rights movement and with border communities putting human rights on the agenda for social justice change. His contributions to developing the vision and work of the immigrant rights movement will be felt for years to come.


Also, please see two messages from AFSC below on Roberto’s passing and services.






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May 20, 2009







SAN DIEGO [MAY 20] — Roberto Martinez, a lifelong Chicano civil and human rights advocate and former director of the US-Mexico Border Program of the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) in San Diego, passed away this morning in the presence of his immediate family. He was 72 years old. Roberto was a fifth generation Chicano who witnessed blatant discrimination and racial intolerance as a young man. He became a prominent advocate for migrant communities in the late 1970s and early 1980s and worked with several organizations in order to confront law enforcement abuse of authority. In 1983, Roberto became the director of the AFSC’s US-Mexico Border Program, and he was instrumental in developing a human rights methodology that is now widely used by human rights organizations along the US-Mexico border. In 2001, Roberto retired as director of the AFSC because of complications with diabetes, after 18 years of service with the AFSC, and after a lifetime of advocacy for human rights in border communities.


Throughout the course of his life, Roberto participated in countless community forums, panel presentations, and testified before the US Congress on Border Patrol violence and the increasing militarization of the US- Mexico border. Roberto became an internationally recognized advocate of the dispossessed, the disenfranchised, and those relegated to the margins because of immigration policies. In 1992, Roberto became the first US citizen to be honored as an International Human Rights Monitor by the international human rights organization Human Rights Watch for his pioneering human rights advocacy in border communities. Recently Roberto received the prestigious Ohtli Award presented to him by the Mexican Government, the highest honor granted to a non-Mexican national for their service to Mexicans abroad. He was also the recipient of the Quezalcoalt Award, presented to him by the Mexican National Commission for Human Rights. Roberto is survived by his wife, Yolanda, nine children, 23 grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren.


Information about services for Roberto are forthcoming. [SEE BELOW]


Roberto will surely be missed. He was a mentor to many, always worked with integrity and treated everyone with respect. Roberto’s determination in advocating for justice, peace, and dignity is an admirable legacy that should serve as an example for all.


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Dear Friends,


Thank you very much for the outpouring of support and condolences for the Martinez family. These have been difficult moments for them and for our communities. Roberto will truly be missed; voices like his are needed urgently in the quest for justice and dignity.


Roberto’s wish was that all who attended the services wear white, his favorite color and to also remember the recent and historic marches demanding justice for migrants, that so inspired him and our communities.


Services will be held:



Tuesday, May 26, 2009 from 5 PM to 9 PM

Rosary will be held at 7 PM

Humphrey Mortuary

753 Broadway Ave

Chula Vista, CA


Funeral Mass:

Wednesday, May 27  at 10 AM

St. Jude’s Catholic Church

1129 South 38th Street

San Diego, CA


Please send sympathy cards and contributions to


Yolanda Martínez

c/o AFSC

PO Box 126147

San Diego, CA 92112


If you wish to make a tax-deductible contribution, you may send it to:



Morena Blvd. #200,

San Diego, CA 92117

In the subject area of the check, write “Roberto Martinez Donation.” They will mail you a receipt with PIQE's non-profit tax I.D.


¡Roberto Martínez, presente ahora y siempre!