Cuban Photographer Hector Reyes Murdered in Mexico

His friends seek justice

Hector Reyes

By Octavio Nava (Periodistas Unidos)

HAVANA TIMES – A stateless man is murdered. In the early hours of Thursday March 16, 2023, Cuban photographer and journalist Hector Dario Reyes Reyes was strangled to death by two suspects who he had invited to stay at his residence that night in Sur125A, no. 87 Colonia Cove in the Alvaro Obregon borough, as a favor for getting him a temporary job at a security company.

Hector was like many migrants who end up stranded in our country as a result of the US’ anti-immigrant migration policy, turning Mexico into a land where many have met death, robberies and harassment from organized crime groups and by the Government’s very own authorities.

The Cuban journalist really tried hard to get a job in his field of study and expertise, after graduating as a journalist from Havana University 2009. He traveled to over 14 countries on assignments, including Moscow and Jakarta, and every Latin American country, but he made this journey on foot with a backpack over his shoulder, destitute and with the iron will to make it.

In his eagerness to raise funds to continue on his journey to reach his final destination of Alaska, he took on many different jobs. He was very earnest, but he was only employed in low-income temporary positions such as a cleaner or kitchen help, security guard of an apartment building or as a guard at bankrupt factories. Not only were these jobs poorly paid, but he was always discriminated against by his employers and work colleagues as the Cuban journalist didn’t let anyone walk over him with his strong personality. He demanded his rights and was constantly sacked, even without being paid for the days he’d worked he told me several times – Hell, you respect me, I give and deserve respect! He’d say adamantly.

It’s worth noting that he was beaten by the Mexican military on his last crossing at the Ciudad Juarez border, and that’s where he lost his original documents such as his birth certificate, because here in our country, you are always asked for your birth certificate as a requirement to get a job, even poorly paid ones. He constantly complained and went and back forth to his Embassy to try and get a birth certificate but he never did. The Cuban Government today refused this to him because of his continued dissidence, and this situation drove Hector into a crisis of desperation, anxiety and depression, which made his love for beer even worse.

I would find him waking up past noon lots of the time, we’d talk a little, make coffee and tried to joke about our post-COVID luck, we’d encourage each other to continue with new photographic projects and he’d stand back up to fight and struggle against Communist Castro bureaucracy – as he called it – and get the famous birth certificate, so he could get the job he so desperately needed to raise the money he needed to bring his projects to life. I put him up in a lab/studio I had for a few months, but I had to get rid of it because I couldn’t afford to keep paying rent given the serious economic crisis right now.

He was obsessed with the struggle for democracy in his beloved Cuba and he happily followed live broadcasts on social media during the mass protests on the island, and would tell me every last detail excitedly, he wrote, he posted and shared everything he could about these protests in July 2021. Those were happy days, his eyes lit up and there was a hint of social change on the Caribbean island.

He was found the following day

That fateful night, a woman who was staying at this guesthouse notified his girlfriend that there had been shouting and violence where they were both renting. She only stayed the weekends, so she wasn’t there that Thursday, but the voice message went to voicemail and the girlfriend didn’t hear it until Friday morning, then going to see what had happened the night before.

That’s how she discovered Hector’s lifeless body, face down and black and blue, on Friday March 17th at approximately 10 AM, when she went to the residence after hearing the voicemail left by his neighbor Jacky, who was also renting a space to stay at this guesthouse. This woman is adamant that the alleged murder suspects are called Gabriel (surname unknown) and Victor Martinez. The guesthouse manager goes by the name Donovan.

It’s worth pointing out that the belongings they took from the now deceased included a computer that had all his files, information, chronicles, stories, poetry and articles and investigations that he took on in his everyday work, his cellphone was also stolen and they remain in the hands of the alleged criminals up until today, Monday March 20th.

This crime shouldn’t go unpunished like so many others that have been committed in our country. It’s worth stressing that the Cuban journalist was victimized twice as an immediate and swift investigation didn’t take place, plus his body still hasn’t been given, five days after the crime, to the person who wants to give him a dignified and proper burial, arguing that he runs the risk of being buried in a common grave because he doesn’t have family here.

I’m writing this article to demand that facts are clarified soon, the alleged culprits of such a cowardly and awful crime are arrested and we hold the migration authorities responsible as well as those at the Cuban Embassy in Mexico for not supporting and ensuring the necessary opportunity for their citizens to get documents they need to get a decent job, who have to risk their lives and lose them because of financial hardship, such as the case of journalist Hector Reyes Reyes.

We can point out the role of Mexican authorities, the Ministry of Interior, National Institute of Migration for issuing permanent resident credentials with Stateless nationality and XXA country as they appear on Hector Reyes Reyes ID issued on 06/-1/2022, who became investigation file no.102 in the early hours of a Thursday, because of the homicide.

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