Monday, April 22, 2024

WORLD | 29-06-2022 14:13

Anger, pain at vigil for migrants who died in tractor trailer in Texas

Dozens of people held a vigil for the 51 migrants, who are thought to have come from Latin America, who died when they were abandoned in a suffocatingly hot tractor-trailer in Texas near the border with Mexico.

Dozens of people held a vigil for 51 migrants who died when they were abandoned in a suffocatingly hot tractor-trailer in Texas near the border with Mexico.

A heavy downpour of rain forced organisers to hold the Tuesday night ceremony under cover in a park rather than out in the open air. Mobile phone flashlights took the place of the candles that mourners had hoped to light.

People expressed anger and sadness over the death of these travellers who, like many thousands every year, make a very dangerous trek seeking a better life in the United States.

US President Joe Biden blamed professional people-smugglers for the tragedy near San Antonio. 

US officials did not give any breakdown of the dead by age, gender or nationality. Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said that of the dead whose identities are known, 22 were from Mexico, seven from Guatemala, and two from Honduras.

At the vigil people formed a circle and took turns speaking, asking US authorities to change their immigration policy or calling on others to pray for the dead migrants.

"This hurts a lot," said Andrea Osorio, a 48-year-old Mexican.

"I have lived here for 33 years without papers, in fear every day," she said. "And I know why we come. We do not come to commit crimes, we only come for a better future."

People of all ages – elderly, young and small children with their parents – attended the ceremony.

So did San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg, who listened to other people's remarks but did not himself say anything publicly.


'Breaks my heart'

Carlos Eduardo Espina, 23 and originally from Uruguay but here since he was five years old, criticised US immigration policy as cruel.

"This is terrible, and breaks my heart," said Espina, whose father is Uruguayan and mother Mexican. "But every day people are drowning in the river, every day people are dying in the desert. Death is the norm in immigration in the United States."

He said US immigration policy should be more humanitarian and allow for more entry visas each year.

"We have to keep fighting because this is going to continue," said Espina, who is an activist on immigration issues. He accused the governments of emigration source countries in Latin America of not caring about their people.

Not far from the circle of people at the vigil, Guillermina Barrón, a 38-year-old Mexican, listened in silence.

"Unfortunately I identify a lot with what is happening because I am Mexican, although I emigrated here 20 years ago," she told AFP, with tears in her eyes. "I feel pain and very powerless. A lot of things have to change because many lives have been lost."


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by Gerard Martinez, AFP


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