The lonely fight of Jose and Elvira Pernalete

At the end of a recent screening of my film La Prenda in Caracas, Venezuela, a man came to me to thank me for the film. His eyes full of sadness struck me. He told me that day about his son Juan Pablo, who had been murdered in April of 2017. He gave me his contact information and told me he would like to share his story if I had time. I called him that night told him I would come by the next morning. But my schedule changed that day and what was supposed to be an early interview turned out to be the last thing I did that night.

I arrived really late but Jose and his wife Elvira had patiently waited for me in their half-lit house in Caracas. That night, I stepped into a house out which life had been sucked. Since their only son Juan Pablo has been killed on April 26, 2017 during a rally against the government of Nicolas Maduro, Jose and Elvira have been left behind with their boundless and uncontrollable grief. They are waging a lonely fight for justice. The day we met, the lawyer representing them and other families of young people who have allegedly been killed by the Venezuelan armed forces at rallies in 2017, had himself been killed. They were with another mother, Zulmith, whose only son had also been killed that year. The fought through tears to tell me the story of 20 year-old Juan Pablo, a young basketball star in his country. They showed me his room, his bag full of books he was carrying the day he was killed. They introduced me to the 6 stray dogs and 7 stray cats he had rescued before his death. They told me the story of a young man with a bright future, who lost his life for daring to raise his voice.

Jose and Elvira are now financing their fight for justice with the money they had saved to pay for his studies. You can read their story in Le Matin Dimanche below.