As a diplomat he held various positions in the Cuban Foreign Service. He was Foreign Ministry spokesman between 1994 and 1997 and as an expert in Human Rights he represented the Government of Cuba in numerous meetings and conferences, mainly within the UN system.
Well-known to Indigenous Peoples around the world, Martinez served as UN Special Rapporteur for the Study on Treaties, Agreements and Constructive Arrangements between States and Indigenous Peoples, as former member and Chair of the UN Working Group on Indigenous Populations, and as First Chairman of the Advisory Committee to the UN Human Rights Council.
“We are shocked by this very sad news” stated Roberto Borrero, a representative of the United Confederation of Taino People. “His commitment to Human Rights and Indigenous Peoples was well respected within and out of the United Nations system.”
Borrero recalled that in the late 1990s, Alfonso Martinez also addressed a meeting of Caribbean and other Indigenous Peoples that was held in Cuba and that on the same discussion panel were contemporary Taino descendants from the island.
“Considering the government’s position on the question of Cuban Indigenous Peoples, it was good to see him personally support the local Cuban indigenous representatives” said Borrero. “Our sincere condolences go out to his family as well as his many friends and collages.”
Miguel Alfonso Martinez was born in Havana on 16 May 1935, and graduated with a Bachelor of Law in 1961. According to reports, his remains were cremated at a private family ceremony in Havana.