WASHINGTON, Nov. 18, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — At a press conference, Eyvin Hernandez‘ father implored President Biden to secure his son’s release and begged President Nicolás Maduro of Venezuela to give his son liberty. Mr. Pedro Martinez asked both presidents, as fathers, to use their conscience. The U.S. State Department designated Mr. Hernandez as wrongfully detained — a label reserved for those who are innocent of the crimes for which they are incarcerated abroad.
Eyvin Hernandez has been detained for 233 days by the Venezuelan government. While on a 2-week vacation in Colombia, he traveled to the border town of Cúcuta on March 31 and was asked to pay a $100 bribe to enter Venezuela by unidentified armed men. Mr. Hernandez had no cash and stated he did not want to enter Venezuela. He was abruptly kidnapped, accused of being an American spy, and transported to various locations. Mr. Hernandez is currently at a military prison in Caracas, Venezuela. He is charged with conspiracy and criminal association.
“All of the evidence suggests that Eyvin was wrongfully detained and I urge our government to do everything it can to secure his immediate release,” said Russell Korobkin, Interim Dean of the UCLA School of Law.
On October 1, the coalition learned from a news story that seven Americans were coming home in exchange for two Venezuelans. “Unfortunately, my brother was not on that list. It gives me hope and it brings me joy that the family members and detainees were reunited,” said Mr. Henry Martinez, Mr. Hernandez’ younger brother. “I know that by these actions, Venezuela and the U.S. are in the process of mending a relationship. However, we need actions taken more quickly to bring my brother home.”
“We are here to plead with you, President Biden. You did leave our friend behind.” said Ms. Yvonne Ballesteros, Mr. Hernandez’s friend. “The family has not met the President. We welcome a meeting.”
“We pray every day that these two leaders make swift and positive decisions to bring Eyvin home,” said Henry Martinez. He asked Colombian President Gustavo Petro, Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez, and El Salvador President Naybi Bukele for help by leveraging their relationships with President Maduro to secure his brother’s release.
“Eyvin Hernandez, a U.S. citizen and constituent of the 37th congressional district, needs to be brought home. I have followed his situation, including briefings with the U.S. State Department as well as with contact with Mr. Hernandez’ family and friends,” said Congresswoman Karen Bass (D-Calif), Mr. Hernandez’ representative in Congress. “I am coordinating a letter to be released shortly from members of Congress to Secretary Blinken and to President Biden. Together, we urge the administration to take action as expeditiously as possible to return Mr. Hernandez home safely.”
“The National Association of Public Defense [NAPD] stands in solidarity with Eyvin’s family, friends, public defender colleagues, and the entire Los Angeles community,” said Lori James-Townes, NAPD Executive Director. “NAPD joins the voices demanding that the Biden administration work to bring him home. Eyvin has been a public servant for over 16 years. His service has never wavered. It is time for us, his public defender family, to advocate for him now. We do so without reservation…We have not and will never forget him.”
A coalition of Mr. Hernandez’ friends and family members traveled to Washington,
D.C., from California to advocate for his swift release. The coalition met with various human rights organizations, the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee, U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, and California representatives. After speaking with the coalition, several elected officials made statements.
Representative Michael McCaul (R-Tx), tweeted, “@POTUS and @statespeha must secure the release of Eyvin Hernandez. I applaud the friends and family of Eyvin who traveled to Washington to continue the fight to #BringEyvinHome.”
“While I am encouraged that the State Department heeded my call to classify Eyvin as wrongfully detained so that his case could be referred to the Office of the Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs, I recognize that we must not let up. I call on the Biden Administration to prioritize Eyvin’s case to bring him home as soon as possible, and I continue to support its efforts to secure his safe release,” said Senator Alex Padilla (D-Calif.).
Mr. Hernandez’ family also visited the Bring Our Families Home’s mural of hostages and unlawful detainees located in Georgetown where Eyvin’s father met with José Pereira, a detainee who was recently released from Venezuela. Eyvin’s image on the mural is located next to that of Brittney Griner, who has been sentenced to 12 years of hard labor in Russia.
“During my time in captivity with Eyvin, he helped me on numerous occasions and would always go out of his way to put others first. I grew very close with him, and we became brothers during my time there. I do not have my best friend and brother with me. Now let’s bring Eyvin home!!!” said Osman Khan, an American released as part of the October 1 hostage exchange.
“Our work is not done here. Every day that Eyvin is in captivity is a day too long. It haunts me that he is in this horrible situation,” said Drew Havens, Mr. Hernandez’ friend and a public defender colleague.
To learn more about Eyvin Hernandez and the Bring Eyvin Home Coalition, please visit https://bringeyvinhome.org. Videos, photos, and press package of this week’s events are available at https://bringeyvinhome.org/press. For updates, follow @bringeyvinhome on Instagram, Facebook, & Twitter.
SOURCE Coalition to Bring Eyvin Hernandez Home