Florida

Mother gets U.S. visa to bury Cuban son killed in Orlando shooting

Alejandro Barrios Martínez, joven cubano asesinado en ataque en Orlando.
Alejandro Barrios Martínez, joven cubano asesinado en ataque en Orlando. Cortesía, Álvaro Álvarez

It's 3:30 Sunday morning and a terrified young Cuban, Alejandro Barrios Martínez, sends a text message to his partner: “I don't have time to tell you I am in a shooting and can't leave scared with blood I love you don't doubt it.”

Later comes the text no lover wants to see: “My love, I am afraid of dying.”

For Barrios, his fear sadly became reality. He never walked out of the gay club Pulse in Orlando, where he had been enjoying Latin Night.

Armed with an assault-type weapon and a lot of hatred, Omar Mateen, took the lives of 49 people, including Barrio's. His last message: “I swear I love you.”

Now his mother, Orquídea Martínez, who lives in Candelaria in Cuba's western Pinar del Río province, has come to America to put her son to eternal rest.

She was issued a U.S. visa to travel to Orlando to claim her son's body and left the island Wednesday.

Miami Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen wrote a letter Tuesday to the head of the U.S. embassy in Havana, Jeffrey DeLaurentis, requesting a humanitarian visa for the mother. It was immediately approved.

“Mrs. Martinez only wants to be at her son's funeral and say a final goodbye,” Ros-Lehtinen wrote. “The physical separation makes it more difficult to endure this tragedy.”

Barrios, 21, emigrated to the United States in 2014 and died without seeing his mother again, the letter added. He and Christopher Joseph Sanfeliz, 24, were the two Cubans killed in the mass shooting in Orlando.

A Barrios cousin, Álvaro Álvarez, a journalist who lives in Chile, dedicated several posts on his Facebook page to commemorating the young man.

“Every time I went to Cuba, you grown up more. And the last time you were already a man. Full of dreams, of being in the United States, of achieving things,” Alvarez wrote.

The journalist also criticized the condolences for the tragedy offered Monday by Cuban ruler Raúl Castro, in which he did not mention that two Cubans were among the victims: “Will he send his condolences to the Cuban families they divided? Some of them today mourn the victims from two countries, unable to embrace.”

Ros-Lehtinen said she was proud to have helped Barrios' mother.

“I am pleased that this anguished mother can come to the United States to make the final arrangements and console her family,” she said.

The Republican Congresswoman has been an ardent defender of the LGBT community and in May launched a campaign, along with her husband, Dexter Lehtinen, and transgender son Rodrigo, to protect the rights of the transgender community.

On Monday, she wrote on her Twitter account, “Attack in Orlando reminds us of the discrimination the LGBT community faces. We must be united against hatred.”

  Comments