Human Interest

Families farewell Guatemalan migrants slain in Mexico

By Esteban Biba

Comitancillo, Guatemala, Mar 13 (efe-epa).- Seven weeks ago the relatives of 16 Guatemalan migrants from Comitancillo received calls and messages alerting them to a car accident near the Mexico-United States border.

The “accident” was actually a massacre in the town of Santa Anita, where 19 people were shot and incinerated. Sixteen of the dead were Guatemalan.

On Saturday, Guatemalan families held wakes and paid tribute to the victims, suspected to have been killed by a cartel.

The 16 bodies arrived in Guatemala on a flight Friday organized by Mexican immigration authorities. At the headquarters of the Guatemalan Air Force, they were received by a contingent of politicians and officials, including President Alejandro Giammattei, before being transferred to their hometowns.

Some families watched the government’s reception from their villages and then thousands went to the Santa Cruz de Comitancillo stadium, where they received 12 of the bodies.

The solemnity of the events was punctuated by the mourning of men and women, such as Zaidi Aguilón, who embraced the Guatemalan-flag draped coffin in which her husband, Iván Gudiel Pablo Tomás, lay.

On Saturday, the first to be buried was Elfego Roliberto Miranda Díaz in the cemetery of the village of San Francisco, in an area dominated by families who depend on remittances from other migrants.

Despite having an accounting degree, Elfego thought that in the US he could improve the living conditions of his family, but his dream was cut short in Mexico.

His sister Dalila, 24, told Efe that she demands justice and that she needs to know “why they killed him.”

“We are going to ask the president of Mexico (Andrés Manuel López Obrador) to take responsibility for the children who have been orphaned,” she said, regarding her three nephews and an unborn fourth.

At the Miranda home, a mariachi band entertained while an evangelical television channel in the municipality broadcast his wake.

The rest of the coffins with the bodies of the migrants were also collected by their families in order to watch over the dead in their homes before burying them.

Some houses among the hamlets from which the 16 undocumented migrants originated stand out. They are made of concrete blocks, painted in bright colors, with arches and some with balconies.

The architecture is due to remittances, the greatest engine of the Guatemalan economy and that last year, despite the pandemic, again broke a record with more than $11.34 billion sent.

Another of those murdered, Cristina García Pérez, 20, decided to travel to get work to pay for her sister’s cleft lip operation, according to Plaza Pública.

María Isidro Díaz, mother of Rubesly Elías Tomás Isidro, told Guatemalan and international media that he paid 15,000 quetzals (almost $2,000) to a coyote (human smuggler).

The last thing Rubesly said to her was: “We are here (in Camargo). Tomorrow we are going to reach the border. I am going to turn off my phone and call you once there.” She later found out that the phone had been taken away and 2,000 quetzals ($260) stolen from him before he was murdered.

Another victim of the massacre was 50-year-old Edgar López y López, who had lived in the US for the last 30 years as an undocumented person. Five months ago, he was deported under the anti-immigration measures by then-president Donald Trump and, when he was back in Comitancillo, he decided to return to his other life.

Every year more than 200,000 Guatemalans try to migrate illegally to the US where 3 million of their compatriots live, in search of better living conditions and to escape violence and poverty in their country.

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