Fighting for Justice in Venezuela

Raquel Victoria Flores Bernal, November 25 2015.


Juan Carlos Gutierrez, Lawyer of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.


For this interview I had the pleasure to talk to one of the most important lawyers in Venezuela, he is now defending the case of the political prisoner Leopoldo Lopez. His name is Juan Carlos Gutierrez. At the beginning of the interview we talked about his studies, Juan Carlos Gutierrez finished high school at the age of fifteen at that time he was interested in pursuing a career in Political Science and International Studies at the Central University of Caracas. However, he explained to me that in a family reunion his uncle gave him an advise that changed his life ‘’he told me to study law and after have an specialization in Political Science or International Studies, it was a really good advise at that time and I took it’’. Also, his uncle suggested him to take an Internship in a court of law in which he could learn and decide if law was the career for him.

A couple of weeks before starting his university studies, he was already working as a messenger in the court of law, and also working with a Judge instructor in cases of Criminal Law. However, at that time he just used to served coffee and make photocopies of the records of the cases. During this time working as an intern Juan Carlos felt passionate about Criminal Law.

I asked him what were his goals when he started his university studies, and he told me that the university was the only possibility of progression that he needed in which he finished altogether with his internship in the court. Furthermore, at the beginning his dream was to be a judge in order to make justice. At the age of twenty-eight he was named Criminal Judge of first instance, however, during this time because of the possibility of judging and punish innocents or free the guilty was huge he gave up his position of Criminal Judge in order to become a lawyer instead focus on criminal cases. ‘’ Being a criminal lawyer is my real vocation and if I could reborn five times I would be a criminal lawyer, and at the sixth time I would be a musician’’.

 His goals nowadays is to achieve justice actions in every case he works on, also, that his work would never be use for a person who does not deserve it or via injustice ways. Moreover, he also wish that judges and lawyers in Venezuela work independently and not by other powers from the State, in criminal cases or human rights violations.

 Every case for Juan Carlos Gutierrez is important, and all of them have different elements in which he is found very interested in such as: the use of forensic evidence, means of committing of crime, the relationship of victim-offender, confronting a totalitarian power, fight for justice, and other factor that can be found in every case.

‘’Of course the case of the political prisoner Leopoldo Lopez have been very important and the horror of injustice that exists in this case have been known internationally, and for me is to defend a friend, cases like this should not happened with lawyers and judges inside an constitutional and democratic system’’.

The case against Leopoldo Lopez is an example of many injustice and human right violations in Venezuela ‘’Because of this we fight to liberate him, and after we will fight forever so cases like this wont happen again against any person in Venezuela’’. For him these kind of situations are not to wish for, and for him and other lawyers defend cases in which laws are not follow they work on using every legal resource in which their legislation permit. ‘’It is very important to document and report any violation against human rights and to every day present a new argument and Justice will win’’.

Unfortunately, crimes, danger, insecurities and threats are an every day issue in Venezuela and for a recognize lawyer in our society and in charge of the Leopoldo Lopez case, Juan Carlos discussed that they have felt pressure and threats during this past months. However, for him these are not reasons to give up but to keep fighting positively also it is the love and support of his family that keeps him strong.

‘’…Because of the passion that got me into my destiny from the day I started serving coffee for the tribunals, maybe for that, I still sometimes share a cup of coffee and justice’’. –Juan Carlos Gutierrez.


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