Gregoria Lucrecia Alba, wife of Celso Escun, who was injured while travelling in a trailer along with other migrants from Guatemala in an accident that left several migrants dead in Tuxtla Gutierrez, in Chiapas state, Mexico, breastfeeds her daughter Keily Escun, next to another daughter Miranda, in Santa Lucia Utatlan, Guatemala, December 11, 2021. REUTERS/Luis Echeverria
December 12, 2021
By David Toro
SOLOLA, Guatemala (Reuters) – Family members of a Guatemalan migrant involved in a deadly truck accident in Mexico said they feel forgotten by governments that offer them few opportunities to stay, and no protection on the perilous route to the United States.
When Celso Escun Pacheco, 34, left his home in the Guatemalan highlands on Dec. 7, he kissed his wife and two young daughters goodbye and set out for the dangerous journey to the United States, where he hoped to find a well-paying job.
His family never imagined his journey would be cut short two days later, as he was among the dozens injured in a deadly accident in Mexico when a truck trailer carrying more than 160 people overturned on a curve outside the city of Tuxtla Gutierrez in Chiapas state.
At least 55 migrants, most from Guatemala, were killed, one of the worst death tolls of migrants in Mexico in the past decade.
Escun, a farm worker who earned about $7 a day, was injured, but escaped with his life, his wife told Reuters.
At the family’s modest home, made of wood and sheet metal, in Pamezabal, a tiny village in Santa Lucía Utatlan, a municipality of the province of Solola, Escun’s wife Lucrecia Alba said the amount of deadly incidents involving migrants made them feel left behind by state authorities.
“It is not the first time that an accident of this type has happened. I believe that no government is interested in the high risks because this has happened many times,” Alba said.
The incident has put a spotlight on the dangers migrants face on the road to the U.S. border, often at the hands of human-traffickers known as coyotes. Dozens of migrants have died from violence or deadly accidents in Mexico over the last decade.
“We need the governments of Mexico and Guatemala to raise awareness, migrants need more security on the road,” said Santos Juan Alba, Lucrecia Alba’s uncle. “People are leaving because there are no opportunities here.”
The accident underscores the extreme conditions, including severe poverty and gang violence, which migrants from Central American countries flee.
Following the accident, Guatemalan officials urged the United States to invest in the region to boost development. Mexico and Guatemala both pledged to crack down on international people-smuggling networks they blamed for Thursday’s accident.
Enrique Matzar, secretary of the Cocode de Pamezabal, a local government agency, said strict U.S. immigration policies of the Trump administration exasperate the issue.
“(With) the controls imposed by the last American government, migrating is increasingly costly and dangerous and people will not stop migrating because in Guatemala, there is a lot of need and high levels of corruption,” Matzar said.
(Reporting by David Toro in Solola; Writing by Cassandra Garrison; Editing by Dan Grebler)