Bodies of migrants who died in Texas truck returned to Mexico


Mexico returns bodies of 25 victims who died in a truck abandoned in the blistering heat in San Antonio.

After days of preparation and donations to help cover funeral costs, a mountain community in eastern Mexico mourned Thursday the return of three teens among 53 migrants who died in an abandoned truck in southern Texas last month.

Residents of San Marcos Atexquilapan have stepped forward to help the Olivares family receive the bodies of brothers Jair and Yovani Valencia Olivares, aged 19 and 16, as well as their cousin, 16-year-old Misael Olivares.

Women cleaned banana leaves to make tamales, men carried chairs from one house to another, while the boys’ friends plastered a wall with pictures of all three.

Similar scenes of solemn preparation played out across Mexico as the bodies of 16 of those lost in the tragedy were returned to two military flights on Wednesday and then sent to their hometowns. Another flight was scheduled for Thursday.

The Mexican Foreign Ministry said it would return 25 of Mexico’s 26 victims in accordance with the wishes of their families.

Repatriation of the victims was expected to continue in Guatemala and Honduras in the coming days, also killing 21 and six people, respectively.

Ten of the 53 victims were teenagers, including the Olivares. In the dark, men carried the coffins and arranged them side by side in front of a large crucifix, sheltered by tarps suspended over the mourners. The young people will be buried on Friday.

Hundreds of people from the area flocked to the homes of the families, who were seated in a row. The teens all played on a local soccer team and were well known.

“I can’t accept it,” whispered Yolanda Valencia, Jair and Yovani’s mother.

Her sons wanted to build a house and open a shoe store in this city of about 1,500 people known for its shoemaking business. “They went with a lot of goals that weren’t realized,” she said.

The investigation continues into the smuggling ring that ended up leaving people’s trailers in the blistering heat on the outskirts of San Antonio on a day when temperatures approached 38 degrees Celsius. The US authorities have arrested four people, including the driver of the truck.

According to Garduno of Mexico’s National Migration Institute, the truck was carrying 67 people. US authorities said at the time that survivors found in the trailer were taken to hospital for heat stroke and exhaustion.

During a meeting with his Mexican counterpart, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, earlier this week, US President Joe Biden called migration a “semicircular challenge” for America.

“My administration is at the forefront of creating job opportunities through legal avenues,” Biden said, adding that Washington issued a record 300,000 temporary visas for Mexican workers last year.

But the US has been widely criticized by human rights groups and migration advocates who say the country’s deterrence policies put migrants and asylum seekers at greater risk when they transit.

Lopez Obrador, for his part, called for an “orderly flow of migration and the arrival in the United States of workers, technicians and professionals of various disciplines”.

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