[:en]13 younger Guatemalans who left for a greater future have been slain in Mexico, households say[:]

[:en]13 younger Guatemalans who left for a greater future have been slain in Mexico, households say[:]


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As 15-year-old Robelson Isidro left Guatemala this month, he promised his nervous mom he would keep in shut contact throughout his journey to the US.

She had begged him to not go, however he assured her it was for the perfect.

He earned simply $3 a day toiling within the espresso fields round Comitancillo, a largely Indigenous city in Guatemala’s western highlands. With just a few years of American wages, he hoped to purchase the household a home.

“We’re virtually to the border,” he wrote to his mom, Maria Isidro, on Fb Messenger Jan. 21, explaining that he would cross into Texas the subsequent morning.

It was the final time she heard from her eldest son.

A number of days later, she noticed information experiences that made her abdomen drop. Nineteen burned our bodies had been found in northern Mexico 20 miles from the U.S. border.

A name to one of many smugglers who had organized the journey confirmed her worst fears: Robelson and 12 others from Comitancillo have been among the many useless.

Mexican officers say it might take weeks to determine the our bodies, found by police on Jan. 23 in a burned-out SUV on a dusty highway in Santa Anita within the japanese border state of Tamaulipas. They have been riddled with gunshot wounds and charred past recognition.

However Robelson’s mom and different households from Comitancillo say they’re certain that 13 of the useless are their kids. On Monday, the households trekked six hours to Guatemala’s capital to supply DNA samples on the nation’s overseas ministry, which have been despatched to Mexican authorities.

There’s a lengthy of historical past of horrific violence in opposition to migrants within the northeastern borderlands of Mexico. Legislation enforcement is deeply corrupt, and a altering roster of prison teams battles for management of smuggling routes — whether or not the cargo is medicine or folks. Migrants are frequent victims of extortion, kidnapping and killing.

In 2010, members of the Zetas cartel stopped two tractor-trailers full of migrants and took them to a ranch within the city of San Fernando, which can also be in Tamaulipas state.

The gangsters requested the migrants to grow to be hit males for his or her cartel. When the migrants refused, they have been blindfolded, tied up and shot. Only one man survived, a younger Ecuadorian who performed useless after which escaped, strolling miles to alert authorities.

The subsequent yr, there was a good worse massacre in the identical area. A number of buses have been stopped and practically 200 migrants have been ordered off, killed and buried in graves found by police quickly after.

The perils of the migrant path are well-known all through Central America. That’s why Maria Isidro was so nervous.

“I don’t need you to go,” she instructed her son firmly.

“No, Mother,” he mentioned. “I’m going.”

In Comitancillo, the place many individuals communicate the Indigenous Mam language, most properties are made out of adobe brick and lots of lack operating water. Yearly a handful of kids die from malnutrition.

Life has all the time been onerous. However not too long ago issues have gotten even tougher. Heavy storms have broken crops. The COVID-19 pandemic has slowed commerce within the area.

The state of San Marcos, the place Comitancillo is situated, has one of many highest charges of malnutrition in Guatemala, with 70% of kids not getting sufficient vitamins of their diets.

Robelson didn’t need to stay in poverty anymore. His household owned virtually nothing, not even their humble dwelling, which lacked a kitchen.

The group has a protracted historical past of sending migrants to the US, and he had uncles who lived there. They’d indoor kitchens. They didn’t must prepare dinner outdoors below a tarp.

“He was ashamed,” his mom mentioned in a cellphone interview. She mentioned he instructed her: “I’m going to combat to make my goals come true. I’ve to get my siblings forward in life. I’m going to get them out of poverty.”

His uncles wired him cash to make the journey north.

He traveled with just a few dozen different folks from the area, a lot of them youngsters. Some apparently made it to the US and notified their households again dwelling, Maria Isidro mentioned.

The mayor of Comitancillo, Héctor Lopez Ramírez, instructed the Mexican information website Animal Politico that he heard that the migrants had been touring in three vehicles headed to the border on Jan. 22 when one broke down. He mentioned passengers within the different two vehicles reported listening to gunshots.

Human rights advocates condemned the incident, saying increasingly militarized immigration enforcement in the US and throughout the area has made it extra possible that migrants will to finish up within the palms of smugglers.

A bunch of Guatemalan bishops issued a press release calling on regulation enforcement authorities to research the assault “the identical approach they organized to cease the caravan,” a reference to a current group of 1000’s of principally Honduran migrants who have been turned again by Guatemalan safety forces earlier than they might cross into Mexico.

Guatemalan lawmaker Mario Ernesto Galvez, who represents Comitancillo, referred to as on federal authorities to do extra for the nation’s rural communities.

“They can’t discover growth alternatives of their hometowns, which have traditionally been completely deserted by the federal government,” he wrote on social media. “The dream of our youngsters and youths has grow to be to achieve the US.”

Maria Isidro, in the meantime, is ready for affirmation that her son is useless.

She mentioned she is aware of in her coronary heart that he was one of many victims, however nonetheless hopes her cellphone will ring. She will think about the voice of her eldest son, saying: “I’m alive right here, Mother.”

Employees author Linthicum reported from Mexico Metropolis and particular correspondent Abbott from Guatemala Metropolis. Particular correspondent Cecilia Sanchez in The Occasions’ Mexico Metropolis bureau contributed to this report.

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