LOS ANGELES (CNS) -- The Los Angeles City Council Wednesday approved two related motions that call on President Joe Biden and the State Department to take any actions necessary to secure the freedom of a Southland public defender imprisoned in Venezuela.
Eyvin Hernandez has been a Los Angeles County deputy public defender for 15 years. While on vacation in Colombia in late March 2022, Hernandez joined a friend on a trip to the Colombian-Venezuelan border to resolve a passport issue involving the friend's stay in Venezuela.
At the border, Hernandez and his friend were intercepted by what has been described in various reports as either a paramilitary group, a gang or official Venezuelan forces. Hernandez and his friend were eventually turned over to Venezuelan security forces and jailed in a maximum security prison in Caracas.
Hernandez is accused of criminal association and conspiracy, which are punishable with up to 16 years in jail in Venezuela.
Both councilwomen Eunisses Hernandez and Katy Yaroslavsky know Eyvin Hernandez. Eunisses Hernandez introduced the motion that is directed at the State Department, while Yaroslavsky introduced the motion aimed at Biden.
"I was fortunate enough to meet and work with Eyvin on judicial accountability to witness his dedication to our communities,'' Councilwoman Hernandez said. "Eyvin was an L.A. County public defender who has given his career to advocating for some our most vulnerable residents during his free time. More importantly, he's a beloved son, brother and friend. We are standing in solidarity with Eyvin's colleagues and family today and asking that our federal government do everything in its power to bring him home quickly and safely.''
Yaroslavsky said she got to know Eyvin Hernandez 20 years ago while they both went to law school at UCLA. They had every single class together their first year.
"When I heard that this happened to him it was shocking,'' Yaroslavsky said. "He's a man of impeccable character, which is no doubt a testament to his family and friends -- some of whom are with us here today.''
Henry Martinez, Hernandez's younger brother, noted Hernandez has been held "14 and half months in Venezuela, in a makeshift prison -- practically solitary confinement.''
"We ask all city members to take an extra step and reach out to the Biden administration and have them use all the tools necessary to bring my brother home,'' Martinez said.
In December 2022, L.A. Mayor Karen Bass, Rep. Nanette Diaz Barrag¡n, D-Los Angeles, and other congressional representatives sent a joint letter to Biden asking his administration to work to free Hernandez.
Copyright 2023, City News Service, Inc.