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> No, Democrat.
San Antonio — The deaths of 51 migrants in a sweltering tractor-
trailer during what's believed to be the deadliest smuggling
episode ever on the U.S.-Mexico border amounted to "a crime
against humanity," San Antonio Police Chief William McManus told
the CBS affiliate there, KENS-TV.
The bodies were discovered Monday afternoon on the city's
outskirts in the abandoned truck. More than a dozen people were
taken to hospitals, including four children.
"The scene was tragic beyond words," McManus said. "I don't
understand how anyone could be so callous as to allow it happen
and run from the scene."
San Antonio officers quickly caught three suspects, one of them
in a nearby field.
As for the migrants, "Once you are in there and they lock those
doors, your fate is kind of in the wind," McManus reflected.
Few victims' identities have been made public, illustrating the
challenges authorities face in tracing people who cross borders
Identifying bodies proving difficult
By Tuesday afternoon, medical examiners had potentially
identified 34 of the victims, said Bexar County Commissioner
Rebeca Clay-Flores, who represents the district where the truck
was abandoned. Those identities were not yet confirmed pending
additional steps, such as fingerprints, and she described it as
a challenge with no timeline on when the process might be
"It's a tedious, tedious, sad, difficult process," she said.
The tragedy occurred at a time when huge numbers of migrants
have been coming to the U.S., many of them taking perilous risks
to cross swift rivers and canals and scorching desert
landscapes. Migrants were stopped nearly 240,000 times in May,
up by one-third from a year ago.
With little information about the victims, desperate families of
migrants from Mexico and Central America frantically sought word
of their loved ones.
Among the dead, 27 are believed to be of Mexican origin based on
documents they were carrying, according to Rubén Minutti, the
Mexico consul general in San Antonio. Several survivors were in
critical condition with injuries such as brain damage and
internal bleeding, he said. About 30 people had reached out to
the Mexican Consulate looking for loved ones, officials said.
Guatemala's foreign ministry said late Tuesday that it had
confirmed two hospitalized Guatemalans and was working to
identify three possible Guatemalans among the dead. Honduras'
foreign relations ministry said it was working to confirm the
identities of four people who died in the truck and carried
Eva Ferrufino, spokeswoman for Honduras' foreign ministry, said
her agency is working with the Honduras consulate in south Texas
to match names and fingerprints and complete identifications.
The process is painstaking because among the pitfalls are fake
or stolen documents.
Mexico's foreign affairs secretary identified two people Tuesday
who were hospitalized in San Antonio on Tuesday morning. But it
turned out that one of the identification cards he shared on
Twitter had been stolen last year in the southern state of
Haneydi Antonio Guzman, 23, was safe and sound in a mountain
community more than 1,300 miles away from San Antonio on Tuesday
when she began receiving messages from family and friends. There
is no phone signal there, but she has internet access.
Journalists started showing up at her parents' home in Escuintla
-- the address on her ID that was stolen and found in the truck -
expecting to find her worried relatives.
"That's me on the ID, but I am not the person that was in the
trailer and they say is hospitalized," she said.
"My relatives were contacting me worried, asking where I was,"
Antonio Guzman said. "I told them I was fine, that I was in my
house and I clarified it on by (Facebook page)."
Foreign Affairs Secretary Marcelo Ebrard deleted the original
tweet identifying her without further comment. The other
hospitalized victim Ebrard identified Tuesday turned out to be
In the southern Mexican state of Oaxaca, municipal officials in
San Miguel Huautla were traveling to the community of 32-year-
old José Luis Guzmán Vásquez late Tuesday to find out if his
mother wanted to travel to San Antonio to be with him in the
Manuel Velasco López, San Miguel Huautla's municipal secretary,
said that another cousin had been traveling with Guzmán Vásquez
and was now considered missing.
Yet another cousin, Alejandro López, told Milenio television
that their family worked in farming and construction and that
they migrated because "we don't have anything but weaving hats,
palms and handicrafts."
"Growing corn, wheat and beans is what we do in this region and
that leads to a lot of our people emigrating and going to the
United States," he said.
Miguel Barbosa, the governor of neighboring Puebla state, set
off a scramble for information in the town of Izucar de
Matamoros on Tuesday when he said publicly that two of the dead
hailed from there.
In the heavily migrant town, everyone was asking themselves if
their friends or neighbors were among the dead found in the
freight truck in Texas. Rumors abounded, but the city government
said no dead had been confirmed from Izucar.
But going to the United States is such a tradition that most
youths here at least consider it.
"All of the young people start to think about going (to the
U.S.) as soon as they turn 18," said migrant activist Carmelo
Castañeda, who works with the nonprofit Casa del Migrante. "If
there aren't more visas, our people are going to keep dying."
Migrants typically pay $8,000 to $10,000 to be taken across the
border and loaded into a tractor-trailer and driven to San
Antonio, where they transfer to smaller vehicles for their final
destinations across the United States, said Craig Larrabee,
acting special agent in charge of Homeland Security
Investigations in San Antonio.
Conditions vary widely, including how much water passengers get
and whether they are allowed to carry cellphones, Larrabee said.
Authorities think the truck discovered Monday had mechanical
problems when it was left next to a railroad track in an area of
San Antonio surrounded by auto scrapyards that brush up against
a busy freeway, said Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff.
A tragic past
San Antonio has been a recurring scene of tragedy and
desperation in recent years involving migrants in semitrailers.
Ten migrants died in 2017 after being trapped inside a truck
parked at a San Antonio Walmart. In 2003, the bodies of 19
migrants were found in a sweltering truck southeast of the city.
More than 50 migrants were found alive in a trailer in 2018,
driven by a man who said he was to be paid $3,000 and was
sentenced to more than five years in prison.
Other tragedies have occurred before migrants reached the U.S.
In December, more than 50 died when a semitrailer rolled over on
a highway in southern Mexico. In October, Mexican authorities
reported finding 652 migrants packed into six trailers stopped
at a military checkpoint near the border.
During a vigil held Tuesday evening in the rain at a San Antonio
park, many of the more than 50 people who attended expressed
sadness, frustration and anger at the deaths and what they
described as a broken immigration system.
Back in Puebla, farmer Juan Sánchez Carrillo, 45, was sickened
when he heard the news of the deaths in Texas.
He himself narrowly escaped death, when he and his friends ran
away from dozing migrant rustlers in the mountains near Otay
Mesa near San Diego. The criminals - who Sanchez Carrillo
believes were in cahoots with smugglers who brought him over the
border - pointed rifles at the group of 35 migrants and
threatened to kill them unless they came up with $1,000 each.
"For the smugglers, we the migrants are not human," Sánchez
Carrillo said. "For them we are no more than merchandise."