Alejandra Benitez ("La Power")Age 34
5 Nov 2020
San Miguel de Tucumán (Argentina)
Alejandra was shot outside her home by an assailant on a motorcycle.
Yesterday another transfemicide was known in Tucumán: Alejandra Benítez, a 34-year-old trans woman, was shot dead in the back on the sidewalk where she lived, on Avenida Roca and Ayacucho in the provincial capital. During the morning, the Homicide Prosecutor Unit No. 2 reported that a key witness had been testified. Witness accounts point to a man as the person responsible for the shooting.
"The last we knew is that a guy got off the motorcycle, argued with her and shot her point blank," said Claudinna Rukone, a trans activist and friend of Alejandra. "Apparently Alejandra was walking away when this person drew the weapon," says Lorenzo Franco, coordinator in Tucumán of the Association of Transsexual and Transgender Transvestites of Argentina (ATTTA).
The organization were with Alejandra's family on Wednesday. “I met Alejandra during the pandemic. She carried the needs of her companions on her shoulders and worked a lot with food parcels so that those who were having a very bad time did not lack, ”says Franco.
That of Alejandra Benítez is the second transfemicide in the province since the measures for the Covid 19 pandemic began . The previous one was that of Vanesa Solórzano, a 20-year-old girl whose body was found in the Canal Sur area in San Miguel de Tucumán. Alejandra and Vanesa earned their daily living as sex workers, as did so many [trans women] who suffer structural violence and lack of access to basic rights. Neither of them reached the average age of life of a trans person in Latin America: 35 years.
Alejandra was one of the founders of Trans Unidas, had a reputation for being cheerful and was well loved in her community.
Alejandra Benítez was also Alejandra Power or, simply, La Power, as she was known around here. Among the younger trans women, they called her Godmother or Mother because she was the one who accompanied and advised them in the transgender transition process. “ In the neighborhood, the girls called her mom. She was a spokesperson and godmother for the younger trans. She cared for them and protected them. They were very companions of hers and now they are all destroyed, ”says Federico. Alejandra was a sex worker and one of the creators of the group Trans Unidas whose objective is to make visible all the demands and needs of the community of trans women in the province. During the pandemic, Alejandra helped collect merchandise for trans women from Tucumán.
“She had no problem with anyone, she shared with anyone, as long as they don't disrespect her. She has always been about improving herself, about traveling. She was in solidarity with everyone here, she never forgot that she comes from a humble neighborhood. The whole neighborhood is shocked by what has happened and we feel unprotected by the state. Politicians and judges leave much to be desired, those who represent us are killing us”, reflects Federico.
In June 2021 Ricardo Puenzo was acquitted through lack of evidence.
The trial for the transfemicide of Alejandra Estefanía La Power Benítez has concluded after a week of deliberations. Unanimously, the court comprised of Judge María Balcazar (president), Judge Rafael Marorito and Judge Isabel Menéndez, acquitted Ricardo Puenzo, the only accused of the crime.
In their summing up, they pointed to the Public Prosecutor's Office, under the charge of prosecutor Carlos Sale, for deficiencies in the investigation that did not manage to gather enough evidence to determine with certainty that Puenzo was responsible for the six shots that killed the young trans woman or the four who injured Diego Mercado.
“Unfortunately, due to the way in which this case was investigated, it is not possible to reach full certainty and conviction that Ricardo“ Ricky ”Puenzo was the author of the shots that caused the death of Alejandra Estefanía Benítez and injured Diego Ramos Mercado”, read Judge Menéndez in the public hearing followed by more than 100 people who were waiting attentively for the verdict.
Mercado was a key witness of the trial and on whom the prosecution had relied for evidence to locate Puenzo, not only at the scene of the event, but as the material author of the crime, since he had affirmed this in the statements he gave to the prosecution. However, during the trial his testimony changed and he then maintained that when he was shot he was facing away and could not be sure who had fired.
As a result, the court gave rise to the prosecution's request for Mercado to be investigated for false testimony.
The magistrates launched strong criticism of the investigation of the incident, blaming the homicide prosecutor, Sale, and the police for having followed only one line of investigation and for having ruled out other lines of investigation, such as Benítez's ex-partner, for being a gender crime.