Remains of drowned migrants back in El Salvador for burial

/ 07:33 AM July 01, 2019

LA HACHADURA, El Salvador – The bodies of the father and daughter who drowned together last week while trying to cross the Rio Grande to the U.S. returned to El Salvador on Sunday for burial.

 Drowned migrants return to El Salvador for burial

Candles are placed next to the border fence that separates Mexico from the United States, in memory of migrants who have died during their journey toward the U.S., in Tijuana, Mexico, late Saturday, June 29, 2019. On the border fence hangs a cartoon depiction of a news photograph of the bodies of Salvadoran migrant Óscar Alberto Martínez Ramírez and his daughter Valeria, who drowned on Sunday, June 23 on the banks of the Rio Grande between Matamoros, Mexico, and Brownsville, Texas. (AP Photo/Emilio Espejel)

Photographs of Valeria, face down with her little arm wrapped around the neck of her father, Oscar Alberto Martínez, broke hearts around the world and underscored the dangers that migrants undertake in trying to reach the U.S.


The father and daughter were swept away by the current in the river between Matamoros, Mexico, and Brownsville, Texas.

Their remains entered the Central American country by land and were expected to be buried in a private ceremony in the capital Monday.


Martínez, 25, and his wife, Tania Vanessa Ávalos, 21, had been living with his mother and apparently felt that their salaries working at a pizza parlor and as a restaurant cashier would never be enough to purchase a modest home in their suburb of San Salvador.

That dream to save money for a home led the family to set out for the United States, according to Martínez’s mother, Rosa Ramírez.

The neighborhood they left behind in El Salvador is a humble bedroom community where most people live in low-rise, two-bedroom homes with a combination kitchen-living room-dining room, worth about $10,000-$15,000 each.

Residents say violence and extortion has eased in the neighborhood, but that poverty and ambition still drive many to migrate.

In the Mexican border city of Tijuana, people included a picture of the drowned father and daughter in a memorial erected in the memory of migrants who have died trekking north toward the U.S.

The pictures, candles and crosses of the memorial were placed next to the U.S.-erected fence along the border.

A total of 283 migrant deaths were recorded along the 2,000-mile U.S.-Mexico border last year. The official death toll so far this year has yet to be released.


Migrant families have been coming over the border in unprecedented numbers in recent months, reaching a peak in May, when 84,000 adults and children traveling together were apprehended.

Nearly 500,000 immigrants have been detained at the border since the start of 2019, resulting in dangerous overcrowding in U.S. holding centers. /gsg

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TAGS: Burial, drowned, El Salvador, migrants, Oscar Alberto Martínez, return, Valeria, world news
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