In the 1990s, Alvaro was recognized as the national coordinator of the Ricardo Aldape Guerra Defense Committee, which led the struggle to free Mexican national Aldape Guerra from Texas' death row after being framed by Houston police. Alvaro did local Houston and national organizing around the case, and was instrumental in winning Adalpe Guerra's freedom from prison. In March 1993, Alvaro was a non-governmental organization (NGO) delegate before the 49th session of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights in Geneva, Switzerland. Before the U.N. General Assembly, he exposed the U.S. government's dismal human rights record and its human rights violations of U.S. political prisoners.

Alvaro was a public speaker invited to speak at many colleges, universities and conferences in this country. His topics ranged from injustices of the criminal justice system against people of color, to self-determination, human rights and political prisoners. His eloquent, dynamic presentations would electrify audiences. In addition, Alvaro spearheaded the National Movement of La Raza, Stop the Violence Youth Committee and the Prisoners Solidarity Committee in Houston.

On July 18, 1996, Sheriff Jack McDaniel of Alpine, Texas, went to arrest Alvaro at his home on a charge of aggravated robbery (later dismissed with Alvaro as his own counsel). No warrant for the arrest was issued. When the unarmed Alvaro questioned the sheriff's action, the officer drew his weapon. Before he could shoot, Alvaro disarmed him and fled. Alvaro was aware the police had been monitoring him since his arrival in Alpine and had often expressed fears he would be assassinated by the police. At his trial, police said they felt Alvaro was a "troublemaker" and Alvaro knew his history as a barrio organizer made him a target of law enforcement who were used to little resistance from the Chicano Mexicano community. The police in west Texas have a history of abuse, frame-ups and brutality against Mexicanos. 90% of felony indictments are against Chicanos in a county whose population is 50% Mexican-American.

In fear for his life, Alvaro eluded police. Days later, Alvaro returned to his mother's house. A heavily armed law enforcement contingent converged on the home. Without identifying themselves, police began shooting indiscriminately at the house, cars parked in front and at the public streetlights. At trial, witnesses described the police shooting as a "war zone." Alvaro returned fire in self-defense but never shot nor injured anyone. Alvaro dialed 911 (emergency) and alerted other officials that police were shooting at him and would not allow him to surrender. Eventually, the situation deescalated and Alvaro was taken into custody.

Alvaro was charged with two counts of aggravated assault - one count for disarming the sheriff and one count for a wound suffered by Sgt. Curtis Hines from a ricocheting police bullet. Alvaro's elderly mother was charged with "hindering apprehension" and jailed.

Protests demanding Alvaro's release were staged outside the courthouse in Odessa during the trial. Other protests were held in El Paso, Texas; San Diego, California; and Cuidad Juarez, Mexico. On June 2-9, 1997, Alvaro was convicted of "threatening" the sheriff, but acquitted on the charge of shooting Sgt. Hines. He received a 50-year sentence. His case is currently on appeal.

Alvaro Luna Hernandez Flier
Learn more at