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Guatemalan survivor recounts what she experienced in San Antonio, USA

Astrid Cardona kisses her mother Ufemia Tomás, mother of Yenifer Yulisa Cardona Tomás, during an interview in Guatemala City, Monday, July 4, 2022. (AP Photo/Oliver de Ros)

A friend’s advice to sit near the door of a trailer box could have saved the life of Yenifer Yulisa Cardona Tomás, a survivor of the tragedy in San Antonio, Texas, where 53 migrants died after traveling in a trailer that he was abandoned.

It was June 27 when Cardona, 20, got into the vehicle. “I told a friend not to go all the way in and we stayed at the beginning, in the same place, without moving.” She remembers that little by little she was leaning on someone and she didn’t know any more.

“Then I woke up in the hospital,” Cardona Tomás told Associated Press by telephone from the hospital where he is.

Upon entering the trailer, the “coyotes” —as the human traffickers who hire them to travel to the United States are known— took away their cell phones and sprinkled spices —she believes it was chicken consommé— on the floor of the van to that the dogs did not detect the migrants. “That was very itchy on the body,” she said.

Astrid Cardona kisses her mother Ufemia Tomás, mother of Yenifer Yulisa Cardona Tomás, during an interview in Guatemala City, Monday, July 4, 2022. (AP Photo/Oliver de Ros)

Cardona affirmed that there were about 70 people and that while people were feeling the heat, they gathered at the exit of the trailer, right where she had stayed.

As the trailer moved, it made additional stops to pick up more migrants.

“People were screaming, some were crying. Most of all the women asked him to stop and open the doors because the truck was hot and they couldn’t breathe,” she recalled.

According to Cardona, someone who assumes he was the driver told them that they would arrive soon. “There are 20 minutes left, six minutes,” she said, according to Cardona, who is hospitalized at Metropolitan Methodist Hospital in San Antonio.

“People asked for water. Some are finished. Others did carry ”, the young woman recalled that she was hospitalized for eight days and on Monday she expected to be discharged.

The driver and three other people were arrested and charged in the deaths of the migrants by US prosecutors.

The Guatemalan Foreign Ministry has said that there are 20 Guatemalan migrants who died in the incident and that 16 of them have been identified, while another four await identification.

Cardona had told her parents that she wanted to go to work in the United States after graduating as a secretary, but she was without a job, recalls her father, Mynor Cordón.

The girl’s father paid a coyote $4,000 to get his daughter to her destination in North Carolina. She left Guatemala on May 30 traveling in cars and trucks before getting into the trailer.

“I did not know that I would travel in the trailer. She told us that she would be on foot, it seems that it was at the last moment that the traffickers decided to put the minor in the van, along with two more friends, who survived. One of them is still in critical condition.”

Mynor Cardona, the father of Yenifer Yulisa Cardona Tomás, listens to a question during an interview in Guatemala City, Monday, July 4, 2022. Yenifer Yulisa Cardona Tomás is one of the survivors of the more than 50 migrants who were found dead inside of a tractor-trailer near San Antonio, Texas.  (AP Photo/Oliver de Ros)

Mynor Cardona, the father of Yenifer Yulisa Cardona Tomás, listens to a question during an interview in Guatemala City, Monday, July 4, 2022. Yenifer Yulisa Cardona Tomás is one of the survivors of the more than 50 migrants who were found dead inside of a tractor-trailer near San Antonio, Texas. (AP Photo/Oliver de Ros)

Cardona finally crossed the Rio Grande a few days before the tragedy and was locked in a warehouse inside US territory. The last message from her reached her parents at 10:28 on Monday. “In an hour we will leave,” she said.

The parents found out about the tragedy until 9 p.m. on the same Monday, but they did not hear from their daughter until Wednesday, June 29, when relatives in the United States received the news and told her parents that Yenifer was alive. at the hospital.

“We cried so much, even I was already thinking about where we were going to watch over her and bury her. She is a miracle,” her father said.

Foreign Minister Mario Búcaro said that they expect the repatriation of the first bodies to take place this week.

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Written by Editor TLN

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