Justice Secretary Wanda Vázquez told the Committee of Relatives and Friends of Carlos Muñiz Varela days ago that the agency will hold conversations with federal authorities in Puerto Rico in a new effort to clarify the murder of the young businessman who pioneer of travel to Cuba.
As is currently the case, government authorities in Puerto Rico never stopped investigating this crime, that recently turned 40 years of impunity.
For example, former Justice Secretary César Miranda indicated before leaving office that the local investigation into the death Cuban Muñiz Varela -who was only 26 when he was gunned down outside of San Juan- was then close to being completed, but that it required additional federal information.
According to recent media reports, newly declassified documents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) could be relevant to the current local investigation.
Muñiz Varela was murdered at a time of sharp confrontations rooted in extreme political intolerance in Puerto Rico. Solving this case would contribute to close a very sad chapter in the history of Puerto Rico, as well as to strengthen our justice and law enforcement institutions and to bring peace to a family that rightfully claims probity.
The same applies to the murder of the young independence activist Santiago Mari Pesquera, also considered a crime rooted in political intolerance. Mari Pesquera, the eldest son of the late independence leader Juan Mari Bras, was killed in March 1976. Henry Walter Coira was convicted for this crime but it still remains to clarify the possible conspiracy that preceded the murder.
Both murders must be solved within the framework of the democratic and moral mission to ensure that no crime goes unpunished, particularly those that one that takes lives away. They must also be understood as the right steps towards the purpose of closing wounds that divide people and undermine institutions.
Therefore, the collaboration of federal authorities to solve the murder of the young businessman Muñiz Varela is really relevant, since they can provide new information that could be useful in the investigation conducted by the Puerto Rico Department of Justice.
As some declassified documents have been crossed out, they represent limitations for the investigation because it´s not possible to know the names and identify those who are responsible for the murder.
Muñiz Varela was born in Cuba in 1953 and moved with his family to Puerto Rico when he was nine. As a teenager, he joined Puerto Rican pro-independence organizations that proposed a rapprochement with his native country, which had broken off all relations with the United States since the “Declaration of the Socialist Character of the Cuban Revolution” in the early 1960s.
Muñiz Varela and two friends of Cuban origin, Raúl Álzaga and Ricardo Fraga, founded Viajes Varadero, a pioneering company that organized flights to Cuba to reunite exiles here with their families there.
On the afternoon of April 28, 1979, Muñiz Varela was shot while driving to his mother´s house in Guaynabo. He died two days later.
Authorities are expected to bring justice to this case. It is also fair that the victim’s family and the Puerto Rican society could close this chapter and find peace. It ´s been long overdue for those responsible to be held accountable for their crimes.