Home WORLD AMERICA The shattered lives of families of asphyxiated migrants | The migrant...

The shattered lives of families of asphyxiated migrants | The migrant crisis

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The 13-year-old boy was expected by his father Casimiro in Houston, where the latter has been working for a year after leaving their native village of Tzucubal, in an area inhabited by Aboriginals some 160 km west of the capital. Guatemalan.

However, the phone call from the authorities to tell him of the tragedy put an end to the American dream.

Up to 65°C inside the trailer

On Monday night, a city worker in San Antonio, Texas, heard a call for help near a road where he was working and cracked open the rear door of a heavy truck trailer: of the truck’s 64 occupants , 48 had already died. The other 16 were transported to surrounding hospitals, where five of them died.

According to experts, the temperature could have risen to 65°C inside the truck.

Of the 53 victims, 27 were from Mexico, 14 from Honduras, seven from Guatemala and two from El Salvador, according to US authorities. An eighth Guatemalan is among the victims who have yet to be identified, according to Guatemala’s foreign ministry.

Melvin Guachiac was traveling with his 14-year-old cousin Wilmer Tulul, also from the village of Tzucubal, where concrete houses signal the enviable status of those receiving money from relatives in the United States.

In pursuit of a better life

The young man fed big dreams: to have a bright future, get out of poverty, go to school, help your parents […] and his little brother six-year-old, laments Maria Guachiac, a cousin.

While waiting for the repatriation of the bodies, the bereaved families improvise altars with the photos of the disappeared in the houses. On one wall, the portrait of Wilmer dressed in a Batman T-shirt.

Neighbors and relatives come to offer their condolences in low-voiced conversations, interrupted by the tears and lamentations of close relatives. Women in traditional dress bring food for visitors and families.

Wilmer thought he would stay only two years in the United States, the time to help build a house, before returning to the village. His maternal grandfather Juan Tepaz, 63, cannot contain his sobs.

If we had money, there would be no need to leave. But you have to fight, until you lose your life, as in this case. »

A quote from Antonio Sipac, 62, a neighbor whose two of ten children live in the United States

Prayers and Hope for the Departed

In Mexico, residents of a mountain village look at photos of three of their own atop the church altar, praying that teenagers Jair, Yovani and Misael are not among the 53 migrants who perished in inside a stuffy tractor-trailer in Texas.

For now, the parents are rereading their latest messages, scrutinizing the photos, waiting for a phone call and praying.

Teófilo Valencia, the father of Jair, 19, and Yovani, 16, sat staring at his phone, reading the latest messages he had received from them.

Yolanda Olivares, mother of Yovani and Jair Valencia Olivares, sets up an altar with the photos of her missing children outside her home in San Marcos, in the Mexican state of Veracruz, Thursday, June 30, 2022.

Photo: AP/Yerania Rolon

Daddy, now we’re going to San Antonio, Yovani wrote at 11:16 a.m. Monday. Half an hour later, his brother wrote that they were ready to work hard and pay for everything.

Hours later, they were found in the abandoned tractor-trailer beside the train tracks on the outskirts of this South Texas town.

The cousins ​​left together on June 21. Yolanda Olivares Ruiz, the brothers’ mother, hid Yovani’s school certificate in her wallet as ID and put three changes of clothes for each in backpacks along with phone numbers of relatives in the United States. States and Mexico.

Hermelinda Monterde Jiménez spent the night before their departure talking with her son Misael. He had asked her to wake him up for his departure, and the mum admits that she thought not to. But it was his decision and his own dreamshe said.

Their home as collateral

Their parents got loans, using their house as collateral to cover the $10,000 crossing fee for each cousin. They paid part in advance and had to pay the rest after the boys arrived safely.

The young people wanted to work, save money and come back to open their own clothing and shoe store. They had given themselves four years.

Last Friday, June 24, they were in Laredo, Texas.

They told their parents that after the weekend they would be taken to their destination in Austin, where a cousin who had made the trip a few months earlier was waiting for them. Last week, 20 residents left the city for the United States.

Yolanda Olivares, the mother of teenagers Yovani and Jair, prays during a candlelight vigil on June 30 that her two sons and their cousin are not among the 53 migrants who perished in an abandoned trailer in Texas. Misael’s death has since been confirmed.

Photo: AP/Felix Marquez

On Wednesday, the Mexican consul in San Antonio confirmed that residents of the Gulf Coast state of Veracruz were among the 27 Mexican victims. On Thursday, state attorneys traveled to San Antonio to help with identifications.

Thousands of people on the road to the United States

Each year, thousands of illegal Central American migrants set out on the road to reach the United States and escape the violence of criminal gangs and the misery, which has been further accentuated since the COVID-19 pandemic. .

Some go to caravansthese groups of several hundreds or thousands of migrants who travel on foot, others pay – often more than $10,000 – coyotes (smugglers).

Since 2014, around 6,430 migrants have died or gone missing en route to the United States, according to figures from the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

The smuggling networks are more and more complexexplains Dolores Paris, a researcher specializing in migration. These are criminal enterprises.

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