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Tizamarte, Guatemala – Transito Gutierrez did not want her 16-year-old son, Juan de Leon Gutierrez, to migrate to the United States from their compact town in southern Guatemala, close to the border with Honduras. But Juan assured her he would make it.

“He told me, ‘mommy, I am going to cross more than the border and I will send you funds. I could not be every single day, but I will when I can,'” Gutierrez, 46, told Al Jazeera.

Juan was 1 of Gutierrez’s six kids. He was hoping to join his older brother who migrated to the United States in 2011.

The teen left the compact village of Tizamarte in the aird, rain-starved mountains more than the town of Camotan, Chiquimula on April four with a pal from a nearby village. They travelled with a migrant guide, frequently identified as a coyote.

He was detained by US authorities as he attempted to cross the US-Mexico border a tiny much more two weeks later. He was ultimately sent to a migrant youth shelter, and on April 30 he died following a surgery to relieve stress in his head due to an infection, according to nearby media. 

Juan is the third minor from Guatemala to die in US custody along the southern border considering the fact that the starting of December. His death has left the household devastated.

“I’ve lost my son, but his soul is nevertheless with us,” Gutierrez stated, as she held back tears.

The household is waiting for the return of Juan’s physique to Guatemala. This is in particular crucial for his mother, who laments that she does not have a photo of her son.

‘He was healthy’

Juan was detained on April 19 as he attempted to cross into the United States close to El Paso, Texas by US Customs and Border Protection. According to US media, he was transferred a day later to Southwest Essential Casa Padre, a Workplace of Refugee Resettlement facility in in Brownsville, Texas that is constructed in an old walmart buying centre.

In an emailed statement to Al Jazeera, Evelyn Stauffer, the spokesperson of the Administration for Young children and Households of the US Division of Overall health and Human Solutions stated “no overall health issues have been observed” prior to the teen getting transferred. 

On April 21, Juan woke up with chills, a fever, and a headache. According to Stauffer, he was taken to the hospital, exactly where he was treated and released. His situation did not enhance.

On April 22, he was taken to the emergency area and placed in intensive care. He died eight days later. The precise trigger of death is at present beneath evaluation, Stauffer stated.

According to Gutierrez, Juan’s discomfort started to create whilst he was en route to US border, but he was taking medicine to limit the discomfort.

“When it use to rain right here, he would go function in the field and return saying that his head hurt,” Gutierrez stated. “But he was wholesome.”





Gutierrez did not want her son to travel to the US [Jeff Abbott/Al Jazeera]

Whilst Juan was sick, his mother was informed of developments by US officials. At instances they came in Spanish, other instances they came in English, which she did not have an understanding of.

Juan’s older brother, who was currently in the US, also kept his mother informed of the teen’s situation, Gutierrez stated.

At 1 point, officials from the Guatemalan Ministry of Foreign Affairs known as to ask her if she would be interested in travelling to the United States, but this only brought her much more concern.

“I never have the funds to travel or to spend for a passport,” she stated.

Poverty and climate modify

Juan was 1 of numerous migrating from the southern regions of Guatemala, an location identified as the dry corridor.

The scenario has grown worse in the final two years. According to Gloria Amador, a 41-year-old nurse who has worked in the village of Tizamarte and the surrounding area for nine years, folks started to migrate to the US in July 2018.

“Numerous folks are migrating due to necessity,” Amador told Al Jazeera. “There is tiny function, there are households with couple of sources, and there is a serious drought.”





The area exactly where Juan is from is knowledge a drought and serious poverty [Jeff Abbott/Al Jazeera]

The drought has heavily impacted the area, Amador stated, adding that farmers in the location lost 80 to 90 % of their crops final year due to drought.

The dwindingly capacity to function the land also drove Juan to seek possibilities in the United States.

“Now that it does not rain, we can’t generate something,” Gutierrez stated.

“[Juan] told me that the coffee plants have been dying. He stated he was desperate,” she added. “He stated he could earn much more there in the United States than right here. He could earn much more than the $four a day operating in the field.”

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