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Dublin: 3 °C Monday 16 December, 2019

Bodies of father and daughter who drowned trying to cross US border returned home

An image of Oscar Alberto Martinez and his daughter went viral last week.

A framed photo of Óscar Alberto Martínez Ramírez and his daughter Angie Valeria sits on an altar near their home
A framed photo of Óscar Alberto Martínez Ramírez and his daughter Angie Valeria sits on an altar near their home
Image: Denise Cathey/The Brownsville Herald via AP/PA Images

THE BODIES OF a man and his daughter who drowned while trying to cross the Rio Grande from Mexico to the United States have been returned to their native El Salvador.

Hearses brought the two bodies from Mexico through Guatemala to the Salvadoran town of La Hachadura, where Salvadoran minister of government Mario Duran was on hand to receive the remains.

A photo of the lifeless bodies of 25 year-old Oscar Alberto Martinez and his 23-month-old daughter Valeria lying face down in the border river sparked outrage as many blamed the US crackdown on border crossings for their deaths.

The two drowned while trying to cross the river into Texas near the city of Brownsville, as the child’s mother, Tania Vanessa Avalos, watched helplessly from the river bank.

Avalos returned last week to San Salvador, and Martinez and Valeria are expected to be buried in a cemetery there after a day-long vigil.

Cesar Rios, executive director of the Salvadoran Migrant Institute, told AFP that the deaths symbolised “the incompetence of government policies that have not guaranteed a dignified life that can provide a future for young people”.

Last month, Donald Trump threatened to impose tariffs on all Mexican imports unless the country cracked down on immigration from its border to the US.

Describing the country as “in mourning”, the head of El Salvador’s Human Rights Commission Miguel Montenegro predicted that people would continue to migrate to escape poverty and “the prostration in their lives”.

With reporting from - © AFP 2019.

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