Mexicans and Central Americans, the victims of Texas were found Monday asphyxiated and dehydrated inside a truck after a day of intense heat with temperatures close to 40 degrees.
To get from Mexico City to the border, José Mario, a 48-year-old Honduran, and his family also endured extreme conditions.
Along with his wife and three children aged eight, six and two, they were crammed with around 100 people into the trailer of a refrigerated fridge.
“It was very cold,” says the trader who had to flee the violence in his country on May 20, where he was injured in the arm by armed assailants.
“I put two pants on my children, three shirts, and a duvet to protect them. They slept, they didn’t see the journey go by,” he says.
Until the last moment, José Mario, 48, tried to avoid this option.
He knew that 56 migrants had died in a truck accident in Chiapas, southern Mexico, in early December.
But the “coyotes” – the nickname of the smugglers on both sides of the Rio Grande / Rio Bravo -, to whom he had paid 13,000 dollars, left him no choice.
“The first thing we ask them is not to get into the container. But on the way, they do what they want,” José Mario Licona told AFP.
José Mario adds that the refrigerator “was not checked” during the more than 1,000 kilometers of the journey.
In the same way, the truck of the San Antonio tragedy passed two checks in the United States without incident, according to the Mexican authorities. His plates had been changed.
Of the 53 victims in San Antonio, 14 were from Honduras, 27 from Mexico, seven from Guatemala, and two from El Salvador, according to Mexican authorities.
José Mario’s wife no longer wants to hear about traveling by truck: “We are risking our lives and those of our children”.
And often the risks are unnecessary.
– “Criminal enterprises” –
In Texas, the family engaged in a border patrol, before being sent back to Mexico, to Ciudad Juarez, where they testified to an AFP correspondent.
They are now hoping for a “humanitarian exception” to be accepted on American territory.
People are piled up like “animals” in trailers, testify all the migrants interviewed by AFP in Ciudad Juarez.
Due to the heat, passengers faint or avoid drinking so as not to have to urinate.
This is the reason why Jenny, who left Honduras with her eight and fourteen year old daughters, refused to get on a “trailer” (a truck) and decided to continue on her way without the “coyotes”.
Reassured not to have resorted to these traffickers, Jenny also hopes for a “humanitarian exception” with a message to the United States government: “Everyone has the right to an opportunity”.
Since 2014, around 6,430 migrants have died or disappeared en route to the United States, according to figures from the International Organization for Migration (IOM).
The networks of smugglers are “more and more complex”, explains to AFP Dolores Paris. “We are talking about criminal enterprises.”
The expert is surprised at the lack of interest shown in the question of the “corruption” of the authorities presumably linked to the traffickers.