The family of a man killed while taking a picture in Chile is continuing his legacy of fighting for justice.

Eric Garvin, Jr., a New York City lawyer, spent his career fighting against gun violence. He was shot to death in the capital city of Santiago after taking a picture of a building. 

“My son was an avid photographer and saw a building that piqued his interest because of its murals,” his father tells Travel Noire.

But what Garvin Jr. didn’t realize then was he was in a bad neighborhood. Santiago police were watching the building for illegal activity.

Eric Garvin Jr with mom, sister and dad, Eric Garvin Sr
Photo Credit: Eric Garvin, Sr.

“Two or three guys came across the screen and grabbed my son by the arm. You can see there’s some form of communication going on. A bus comes through the video, and we suspect that’s when the men shot him three times in the stomach,” an emotional Garvin Sr. tells Travel Noire.

Chile police have arrested two suspects in connection with the murder, but the victim’s family says his death could’ve been better prevented if the U.S. State Department’s Travel Advisories were updated with correct information. They are now working with federal and international leaders to create a better way of informing and protecting travelers.

Transforming Pain Into Power

The family wants to leverage Garvin Jr.’s death to bring change in Chile through two initiatives: justice and change.

“Our son’s murder is a symbol of the growing violence in Chile,” says Garvin Sr. “We want our son’s death to be the impetus for Chilean leaders to aggressively address the clear and present danger of growing violence in their country.”

Over the last year, Chilean officials have grappled with the uptick in gun violence. A report from the organization InSight Crime shows homicides in Chile grew by more than 32 percent in 2022 from the previous year. 2022 marked one of the country’s “deadliest ever” years.

Eric Garvin Jr Working Volunteering
Photo Credit: Eric Garvin, Sr

When Garvin Jr. traveled to Chile, the State Department listed the Latin American country as “Level 2: Exercise increased caution in Chile due to civil unrest.” The travel advisory does not describe the growing gun violence problem at the time of this report.

“Chile has been experiencing growing violent crime for several years, so this is not new,” says Garvin Sr. “The fact that the U.S. State Department has been silent on violence in Chile is gross negligence.”

He adds, “Our recommendation also includes highlighting Yungay and other neighborhoods as dangerous.”

Garvin Jr. was murdered in Yungay.

So far, Garvin Sr. has support from U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY), New York City leaders, and international advocates but he wants to protect Americans abroad further by working with American cell phone providers.

“Cell phone providers should be able to work together to provide no-cost travel safety updates … to protect U.S. citizens traveling abroad,” Garvin Sr adds. “Many of them already send push notifications without charge to the consumer about their phone and texting rates when entering a foreign country.”

Continuing Garvin Jr.’s Love For Travel and Helping People

As Garvin Sr. lets out a few sighs and pauses between words, it’s clear the family is wrestling with a painful reality. However, they’re honoring their loved one’s life by doing what he loved — exploring the world and helping people.

Garvin Sr. is the executive director of the charity Cross World Africa where he will be heading in May. The organization works to overcome inequality in Kenya by creating opportunity.

“The worst thing I could do is not honor what he loved,” says Garvin Sr. “Traveling is my tribute to my son. I am certain my son would be proud of his parents.”

Eric. Garvin Jr with mom and dad, Eric Garvin Sr
Photo Credit: Eric Garvin, Sr

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