Gladis Martínez, preserving history

Gladis Martínez has been with FAFG for 21 years as the Evidence Unit Coordinator. Her professionalism, integrity, and companionship are some of her great qualities. We are proud to have people like Gladis on our team and to present her story in a new edition of our “Staff Spotlight”.

Meet Gladis

My name is Gladis Amparo, but I like to be called Gladis. My favorite hobby is cooking traditional meals. I always say that things can only be done in two ways: Well done or poorly done.

Hello Gladis, tell us, what is your job at FAFG and what tasks do you perform?

Since 2001, I have been the Evidence Unit Coordinator. In this role, my tasks and functions are aimed at guaranteeing the chain of custody of all the evidence so that it is carried out correctly from entry to discharge, and the official delivery to the competent authority, in this case, to the Public Ministry. The chain of custody are the steps that are followed to monitor the movement of evidence, be it remains, material, or metallic vestiges. To demonstrate its authenticity and that it does not lose its value, we take into account the identity factors, original state, and conditions of collection, packaging and preservation, places of permanence; changes suffered of all evidence are recorded.

Could you tell us about when you initially started and first experiences at the FAFG?

I started on February 1, 2001. At the beginning I was implementing the necessary processes, so I invited the Public Ministry to offer a training course.

In those years, some FBI officials also came to give training to the Police Academy. I told them, “Next time you come, invite me, I want to learn from you.” One of them told me, “Don’t worry, we are going to invite you, but so that you can also give us training.” I was overwhelmed with emotion, this was a satisfying experience for me.

I have always said that there are only two ways of doing things, one is poorly done and the other is well done, there is no middle ground. Here we cannot say that we are “trying to do …”, here we do not try, here we have to do it, and do it well.

What motivates you at work?

There are several motivations, the main one for me is that I like my job, I always come to work with great pleasure. The greatest motivation is when the relatives of the victims visit the evidence storage. Family members are amazed at the amount of work and they thank us for taking care of their evidence and finding their relatives. I have a case in which a woman’s husband came along with a forensic expert. The forensic expert took a skull out of a box and when he saw the skull said: “She is my wife.” I was surprised. I asked him how he could identify her, he replied: “Because I saw her when they hit her with the gun in her mouth and broke her teeth. There must be a perraje that she used for our wedding, a poncho that I put on her and some boots that I had just bought for my children”. He had buried his wife and three of his children. I looked and there were the rubber boots. It was very hard.

Gladis attending the visit of relatives of disappeared persons in the Evidence Unit.

“I have learned that everything has a percentage of error, but much more can be done. You can always give more than you think you can give” – Gladis Martínez

During almost 21 years of working at FAFG, what have you learned about yourself?

I have learned that you have to do things well, be strict, but also humane. If I see that a colleague has a problem, I seek others’ support and show solidarity with the person affected. I have learned that everything has a percentage of error, but much more can be done. You can always give more than you think you can give.

What is your vision for FAFG? What impact would you like to see?

20 years ago I wanted to see FAFG as it is today. I think that the Foundation has not stopped growing, it will not stop growing, and it will continue for a long time to come. I probably won’t be around to see it, but there are young people who will see FAFG at its best and will continue with the Foundation’s work.

What lessons have you learned from this time of pandemic?

The first lesson is being able to educate my family regarding preventive measures. I learned that one must be very careful of COVID-19 and that we must show solidarity with those who are ill because of this virus.

Name three words that you associate with the FAFG:

Justice, rights, and quality.

Any final message for the readers of this interview?

That they continue to take care of themselves and show solidarity with the people who have problems due to the pandemic. I think the work of FAFG is unique and I see that the colleagues are very professional. I am really proud to work for FAFG and to have colleagues like the ones I have.

Gladis in the FAFG evidence storage.

Since 1997, we assist families in the search of their Disappeared loved ones.

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