Thursday, January 27

Fifty days of crossing and crying: the remains of the murdered migrants in Tamaulipas arrive in Guatemala

Relatives of the murdered migrants with their remains, this Friday in Guatemala City.
Relatives of the murdered migrants with their remains, this Friday in Guatemala City.LUIS ECHEVERRIA / Reuters

The remains of the 16 migrants killed on January 22 in northern Mexico are already in Guatemala. Almost 50 days after their relatives had the first news of the death of their loved ones through the coyotes that led them to the United States, their bodies were repatriated this Friday on a cargo plane paid for by the State of Tamaulipas, where the migrants were executed and burned.

The aircraft landed before eight in the morning at La Aurora International Airport in Guatemala City and traveled to a sector of the Air Force. From the plane, the coffins of the migrants covered by the Guatemalan flag descended, one by one, to be delivered to two representatives of each family, who waited with photos of the victims and wreaths of flowers under awnings installed by the Government for the tribute. .

President Alejandro Giammattei promised the relatives that the investigation will go “to the last consequences” so that those responsible for the massacre are known and punished. “They are not alone. Count on our support so that this act does not go unpunished and justice is done, ”he said in an act in which he decreed three days of national mourning in memory of the victims.

For the relatives, the repatriation of the bodies is a step towards closing the mourning of the death of the migrants who left Guatemala with the dream of offering their loved ones a better future. “We are happy to be able to bury him, but with sadness and pain,” Cristino Miranda, Édgar López’s brother-in-law, told EL PAÍS. At 50, he was the oldest of the deceased migrants. He had been deported last year after being arrested in a raid on a chicken plant in Mississippi and wanted to return to the United States, where he had lived for 22 years, to be reunited with his wife, three children and grandchildren.

Like him, most of the migrants came from remote villages in the municipality of Comitancillo, in the department of San Marcos, where the funerals of the deceased will be held this weekend. They left there on January 12 to offer a more dignified life to their loved ones or to pay for operations or treatments for their sick relatives, something they could not do with their work in Guatemala. Ten days later, the group lost their lives in Camargo, Tamaulipas, on a rural road near the US border, in an area disputed between the Northeast Cartel and the Gulf Cartel.

In total, 19 people died in the massacre, most of them migrants. Although at first it was said that there were 15 Guatemalans, in recent weeks it became known that there was one more victim of that nationality. The other remains corresponded to Mexicans who belonged to the coyotaje networks. In early February, the Tamaulipas Prosecutor’s Office reported that at least 12 policemen from the elite group GOPES were involved in the massacre. The head of that office said that the agents were accused of murder, abuse of authority and falsehood in their reports, but avoided giving details about the exact role they played in the massacre.

A group of Guatemalan congressmen who traveled to Mexico last month told EL PAÍS that the policemen confessed to having killed the migrants, but not having dismembered or burned them. Last week, the Guatemalan Foreign Minister also confirmed that five migrants survived the massacre and that they had testified before the authorities. But he declined to provide further details of the investigation, which is ongoing.

In his message this Friday, Giammattei also launched a message against coyotaje networks and human traffickers. “We are collaborating closely with the countries of the region and with the Guatemalan security forces to locate, prosecute and dismantle all those gangs of criminals who unscrupulously take advantage of the needs of our compatriots, who deceive, cheat and ship them. in an onerous trip ”, affirmed. To migrate to the United States, most of the victims pawned their houses and land in order to pay the more than 100,000 quetzals (more than $ 13,000) that the coyotes ask for on the way. Migrants usually pay an advance and, once they arrive in the United States, they begin to pay the rest and the debts they left at home.

Giammattei also promised that work will be done to create “walls of prosperity and development” so that Guatemalans do not have to take risks on the way north. “May this massacre serve as an example of the struggle we have to do so that the conditions to stay in our country are created,” he said before offering his condolences to the families of the victims.

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