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Martinez, Roberto L. (21 Jan. 1937–20 May 2009), Chicano rights activist and political organizer, was born in San Diego, California, to Mexican parents John Martinez, a carpet layer, and Mary Martinez (maiden name unknown).

As a fifth-generation Mexican American living in a border city with a heavy military, Border Patrol, and local police presence, Martinez experienced intense discrimination. During the 1950s, when the U. S. government launched Operation Wetback to deport undocumented Mexican migrants, Martinez reported having been arrested and threatened with deportation at least two to three times a month on his way home from school. Martinez attended San Diego High School, and, shortly after graduating, he married his first wife Mary Louise. The couple had five children. Martinez continued his education at San Diego City College, where he obtained an Associate Degree in Graphic Arts. Prior to switching to full-time activism, Martinez worked as an engineer for an aircraft company....