SAN SALVADOR (Reuters) – The mother of a Salvadoran man who drowned with his young daughter while trying to reach U.S. soil, becoming a global symbol of the perils of migration, said she had urged her son not to leave, fearing danger would meet him on the long journey north.
A harrowing photograph of Oscar Alberto Martinez, 25, and his 24-month-old daughter Angie Valeria lying face down on the muddy banks of the Rio Grande river between the United States and Mexico ricocheted across social media this week.
Speaking with Reuters from her home in the central municipality of San Martin, Rosa Ramirez, Oscar’s mother, cradled two of her granddaughter’s most treasured toys, a blue-eyed baby doll and a stuffed purple monkey. Her friends have urged her to store her son and granddaughter’s belongings, but she is not ready for that yet.
“Ever since he first told me that they wanted to go, I told him not to,” Ramirez said, recalling conversations with her son. “I had a feeling, it was such an ugly premonition. As a mother, I sensed that something could happen.”
Despite his mother’s pleas, Oscar and his family left El Salvador in April, hoping to find work in the United States and eventually buy a house, Ramirez said.
“That was his dream, a good future for his family,” Ramirez said.
The route to the United States through Mexico is fraught with peril for the tens of thousands of Guatemalans, Hondurans and Salvadorans who have crossed the U.S. border.
As well as confronting the elements, travelers are exposed to physical threats from corrupt officials and cartels that control people smuggling routes. Several other migrant deaths have been in the public eye in recent weeks.
Exasperated by the wait to apply for asylum, Martinez and Angie Valeria attempted to swim to U.S. soil on Sunday, an immigration official in the Mexican state of Tamaulipas said.