Guatemala City, Mar 12 (efe-epa).- The remains of 16 undocumented Guatemalan migrants murdered two months ago in northern Mexico arrived back in their homeland Friday.
Victims’ families watched the flag-draped coffins lowered one-by-one from a Guatemalan air force plane at Guatemala City’s La Aurora International Airport.
President Alejandro Giammattei and his Cabinet, lawmakers and other officials, and Mexican diplomats joined the families for a solemn ceremony.
The head of state proclaimed three days of mourning and ordered flags flown at half-mast outside government buildings.
After those present observed a minute of silence, Giammattei noted that Mexican authorities had already made arrests in the case and emphasized the need to get to the bottom of the crime to avert future massacres.
The president went on to spend a few minutes chatting with each of the 16 families.
A member of one of the families told Giammattei that his kinsman undertook the dangerous journey to the United States because of “the lack of opportunities and employment” in Guatemala.
When the family member added that he himself was unemployed, the president pledged to find him a job.
Mexican immigration authorities paid for the cost of repatriating the remains, according to the Guatemalan Foreign Ministry, which made arrangements to transport the victims to their communities for funeral services and interment.
Most of the migrants hailed from Comitancillo, a village in the southwestern province of San Marcos, bordering Mexico.
The charred bodies of the Guatemalan migrants and three other people were discovered on Jan. 22 after an anonymous call alerted authorities to the presence of a pair of pick-up trucks that had been burned and abandoned on a country road in the municipality of Camargo, just across the border from Rio Grande City, Texas.
The Mexican Attorney General’s office is pursuing several different lines of investigation, including the possibility the mass killing was linked to a dispute among rival organized crime gangs battling for control of the region and migrant-trafficking networks.
Witness statements gathered by Efe refer to a battle between gunmen with the Cartel del Noreste (formerly Los Zetas) and members of the rival Gulf cartel near the site of the massacre in Tamaulipas state.
The Gulf and Noreste cartels have been locked in a dispute over the control of rackets in northeastern Mexico dating back to March 2010, a conflict that since then has left thousands dead and more than 15,000 people missing.
The atrocity in Camargo reminded many in Mexico of the 2010 slaughter in Tamaulipas of 72 mainly Central American migrants. EFE