Trans Harvard student, 32, dies of ‘bodily failures’ in Bali police custody during honeymoon

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Trans Harvard student, 32, dies of ‘bodily failures’ in Bali police custody during honeymoon after being locked up for cannabis possession: Activists slam home country Peru’s response

  • According to authorities in Bali, Ventosilla fell ill two days after his arrest
  • He is said to have¬†ingested medication that was not one of the items confiscated by police
  • He was rushed to the hospital after complaining of stomach pains, but died soon after
  • Ventosilla’s family has since accused Bali authorities of ‘police violence … racial discrimination and transphobia’

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Rodrigo Ventosilla, 32, a Harvard graduate student and trans activist, was arrested for suspected cannabis possession while on his honeymoon in Bali, then died two days later due to ‘failure of bodily functions.’

According to authorities in Bali, Ventosilla fell ill two days after his arrest after ingesting medication that was not one of the items confiscated by police. He was rushed to the hospital after complaining of stomach pains, but died soon after on August 11. 

Ventosilla’s family has since accused Bali authorities of ‘police violence … racial discrimination and transphobia,’ and trans activists in his home country of Peru staged a protest in Lima over their government’s response to the death.

Bali police spokesman Stefanus Satake Bayu Setianto did not respond to the accusations of transphobia, but said no violence led to¬†Ventosilla’s death and the case is now closed.¬†

Rodrigo Ventosilla, 32, a Harvard graduate student and trans activist, was arrested for suspected cannabis possession while on his honeymoon in Bali, then died two days later due to 'failure of bodily functions.'

Rodrigo Ventosilla, 32, a Harvard graduate student and trans activist, was arrested for suspected cannabis possession while on his honeymoon in Bali, then died two days later due to ‘failure of bodily functions.’

Demonstrators in Lima held up signs on August 26, 2022 to demand an investigation into Ventosilla's death be urged by Peru's government

Demonstrators in Lima held up signs on August 26, 2022 to demand an investigation into Ventosilla's death be urged by Peru's government

Demonstrators in Lima held up signs on August 26, 2022 to demand an investigation into Ventosilla’s death be urged by Peru’s government¬†

A demonstrator holds up a sign reading: "Justice for Seb and Rodri" during a protest to demand justice for Rodrigo Ventosilla

A demonstrator holds up a sign reading: "Justice for Seb and Rodri" during a protest to demand justice for Rodrigo Ventosilla

A demonstrator holds up a sign reading: ‘Justice for Seb and Rodri’ during a protest to demand justice for Rodrigo Ventosilla

In a statement Peru’s foreign ministry said they recognized that Ventosilla’s alleged drug possession is a serious crime in Bali, and that it asked Indonesian authorities to strictly follow ‘the human rights of its two nationals.’

Indonesia has among the region’s harshest anti-narcotics laws, with penalties including capital punishment.¬†

LGBT activist Luz Manriquez said the protestors ‘reject and condemn the foreign ministry’s statement.’¬†

Ventosilla’s family said they did not know the cause of his death but said he was denied access to legal defense and information, and have called on the Peruvian foreign ministry to do a more thorough investigation.. According to the Crimson newspaper, Harvard students and faculty, where Ventosilla was studying public administration, are also calling for an investigation.¬†

Ventosilla was a founding member of Diversidades Trans Masculinas, a trans rights organization that Ventosilla founded seven years ago in Peru.

‘We deeply regret the death of our friend and in respect of the mourning and wishes of his family, we will avoid commenting on the reasons for his death,’ Diversidades Trans Masculinas said in a statement on Facebook.

Ventosilla and his husband were in Bali to celebrate their honeymoon. Ventosilla's widow (pictured right) returned to Peru alone, as there is no date for when

Ventosilla and his husband were in Bali to celebrate their honeymoon. Ventosilla's widow (pictured right) returned to Peru alone, as there is no date for when

Ventosilla and his husband were in Bali to celebrate their honeymoon.¬†Ventosilla’s widow (pictured right) returned to Peru alone, as there is no date for when Ventosilla’s body will be returned to his family

‘Even if you are detained in another country, it is unreal and painful that (the Peruvian government) can leave you like this,’ said Arturo Davila, a member of Diversidades Trans Masculinas.

Manriquez said the government’s statement ‘lacks empathy because it does not recognize that a Peruvian has died in the hands of police from another country.’

Brenda Alvarez, a lawyer for the family, has said Peru’s foreign ministry has since agreed to apologize over the statement and launch an investigation.

There is no date for when Ventosilla’s body will return to Peru.