Parents in Mexico agonize over missing teens, pray they don’t be among 53 tractor-trailer victims: “It was their decision and their own dream”

Residents of the mountainous village of San Marcos Atexquilapán, Mexico, hold garlands and look at three photographs of themselves above the altar in a local church, praying that teens Jair, Yovani and Michel were not among 53 migrants who suffocated died inside the trailer in Texas.

The wait for confirmation has been painful for families from Mexico to Honduras. Now they expect what would have been scary before — capture by the Border Patrol, even hospitalization — with anything but grim finality that continues to trickle down family by family across the region.

Then again, at least they would know. For now parents reread last messages, swipe through photos, wait for phone calls and pray.

Not far from the church, a black tarp was hung outside the Olivares family’s tidy two-story home — each sister and their parents all in a row — on Thursdays to shade the dozens of people who visit them every day. had come to live together. Parents of teenage brothers Yovani and Jair Valencia Olivares and mother and father of their cousin, 16-year-old Michele Olivares Montarde.

Mexico US migrant deaths
An improvised altar with photographs of the brothers Yovani and Jair Valencia Olivares, outside their home in San Marcos Atexquilpan, Veracruz State, Mexico, Thursday, June 30, 2022.

Yerania Rolan / AP

It is customary to wake up such a cover, when the family home cannot contain all those who come to honor him. But in this case it’s a vigil where residents of the town of 3,000 come to lift the family’s spirits, offer prayers and exchange stories about the boys.

Teofilo Valencia, father of 19-year-old Jair and 16-year-old Yovani, sat looking at his phone, reading the last messages he had received.

“Dad, we’re going to San Antonio now,” Yovani wrote at 11:16 a.m. Monday. Half an hour later, his brother wrote to his father that he was ready to work hard and pay for everything.

Hours later the dreadful discovery happened Semitrailers abandoned near railway tracks On the outskirts of that South Texas city.

The cousins ​​had moved in together on June 21. The brothers’ mother, Yolanda Olivares Ruiz, carried Yovani’s school certificate as identification in her wallet and filled three changes of clothes for each in the backpack, as well as the phone numbers of relatives in the US and Mexico.

Hermelinda Montarde Jiménez spent the night before her departure, talking with her son, Michele. “He told me, ‘Mom, wake me up,’ and for a moment I thought about not doing that, so he wouldn’t go,” she said. “But it was his decision and his own dream.”

His parents took out a loan, using their homes as collateral, to cover a $10,000 smuggling fee for each cousin. They paid a portion in advance and the rest was scheduled to be paid after the boys reached safely.

The youth wanted to work, save money and open their own clothing and footwear shop. He gave himself four years.

As of last Friday, June 24, they were in Laredo, Texas.

He told his parents that after the weekend he would be driven to his destination in Austin, where a cousin who had traveled a few months earlier was waiting. In the past week, some 20 residents have left the city for the United States.

The family didn’t hear about the unfortunate trailer until Tuesday. He tried to reach out to the boys, but messages and calls did not go through. They went to government offices the same day, providing whatever information could help with the search.

On Wednesday, Mexico’s consulate in San Antonio confirmed that residents of the Gulf Coast state of Veracruz – in which San Marcos is located – were among 27 Mexican victims. On Thursday, state attorneys traveled to San Antonio to assist with identification.

Meanwhile, Olivares waits and prays.

The wait came to an end on Thursday for the family of Jazmin Nayareth Buso Nez in El Progresso, Honduras. His prayer for his safe return was not answered. He was confirmed to be among the dead in San Antonio.

His family said that Bueso Nez was suffering from lupus, an immunological disease that had cost him a job at an assembly plant and was too expensive to treat.

A family friend had offered to help her travel to the United States, where she found a better-paying job to help her abandoned 15-year-old son with his parents and find a cure for his illness. was expected.

Before leaving on June 3, the 37-year-old told her father that she intended to emigrate.

“Dad, I’ve come to say goodbye,” said Jose Santos Busso as he told him on his last visit. “I’m going north.”

Seeing the dangers, he tried to talk to her. “No, Dad, this is a special trip,” she told him. “‘I was there, daughter,’ I tell her. ‘There are no special trips.'” The only special travel was to travel by plane with a visa, he told her.

“The smuggler is making $15,000. He says he will take me without any worries,” he told her.

She was in Laredo when he last spoke. He told her that the smugglers were going to pick up their phones before proceeding, so she would not be able to communicate for a while.

On Thursday, a relative in the United States who was helping the family provide identification documents to authorities told them the sad truth, his brother Eric José Rodriguez said.

“The economic situation, the social situation that exists in our country is very difficult,” Rodriguez said. “That’s why we see day after day, month after month, caravans, migrants. It’s because people have dreams and they don’t have opportunities.”

Back in San Marcos Atexquilapán, Mexico, sisters Hermelinda and Yolanda walked from their homes to church late Thursday with pictures of their sons. They were surrounded by women with candles.

Inside, mothers were seated in the first row, while the priest asked the gathered people to pray.

“It’s not that they are criminals,” he said. “They went in search of their daily bread.”

The townspeople prayed: “We ask you to dream of a better life for these boys, give them that comfort, that relief wherever they are, Lord, the answer is given because these families are suffering, their hearts hurt.” Is.”

Mexico US migrant deaths
Yolanda Olivares, mother of Yovani and Jair Valencia Olivares, prays in front of an improvised altar with photographs of her missing children, in front of her home in San Marcos Atexquilapán, Veracruz State, Mexico, Thursday, June 30, 2022. Neighbors prayed. For youths who are missing after confirming they were traveling in an abandoned trailer to San Antonio, Texas, where the bodies of more than 50 migrants were found.

Yerania Rolan / AP

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