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Local program honors crime victims

As part of National Crime Victims' Rights Week, the Rio Grande Valley Empowerment Zone Corporation - Crime Victims Program honored victims during a ceremony Friday evening.

As part of National Crime Victims' Rights Week, the Rio Grande Valley Empowerment Zone Corporation - Crime Victims Program honored victims during a ceremony Friday evening.

"Lighting of the candles represents the lives that have gone," said RGV Empowerment Zone Corporation Director of programs Marina Macias. "So, we are lighting in honor of their lives and the butterflies also symbolize all the victims of any crime that have been victimized."

Forty-two-year-old crime victim Saraid Betancourt was in attendance honoring her husband who was murdered in 1992 —a crime that remains unsolved —and her son who was killed in 2015.

"It's been really difficult because since my husband was murdered, I was kind of overprotective of my son and it was really, really bad for me when he died," said Betancourt.

Betancourt encourages others to seek the services available to victims of crimes like she did. Whether it be through the county or with organizations, like the RGV Empowerment Zone Corporation.

"Even though maybe a crime has happened a long time ago, its possible that we can still help them somehow some way because of the rights that they have," said Hidalgo County District Attorney Ricardo Rodriguez.

The corporation helps about 300 victims a year. It offers free services, not only to help with intervention, but also address prevention and restoration.

"We want to let people know that if your going through a situation, 'Don't stay quiet, speak up, voice yourself.' That way we can prevent the re-victimization," added Macias.

The dozens who gathered to spread the awareness Friday evening hope their message that was taken to the streets of Alton helped someone realize their rights.

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