Father of useless Guatemalan boy heard rumors they might cross

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GUATEMALA CITY (AP) — The daddy of an 8-year-old Guatemalan boy who died in U.S. custody took his son to the border after listening to rumors that oldsters and their youngsters can be allowed emigrate to the US and escape the poverty of their homeland, the boy’s stepsister informed The Related Press.

Felipe Gomez Alonzo died Monday at a New Mexico hospital after struggling coughing, vomiting and fever, authorities mentioned. It was the second such dying this month. One other Guatemalan youngster, 7-year-old Jakelin Caal, died in U.S. custody on Dec. 8. Each deaths are beneath investigation.

“We heard rumors that they might move (into the US). They mentioned they might move with the youngsters,” mentioned Catarina Gomez Lucas, the boy’s 21-year-old stepsister, explaining why Felipe and his father, Agustin Gomez, made the damaging journey.

Gomez Lucas wouldn’t say who unfold the rumors or who transported the daddy and son to the border from Yalambojoch in Huehuetenango province, a poor group of returnees from Mexico who had fled Guatemala within the bloodiest years of that nation’s 1960-1996 civil warfare. The stepsister spoke to the AP on Wednesday by phone from Yalambojoch.

The boy’s dying got here throughout an ongoing dispute over border safety and with the U.S. authorities partially shut down over President Donald Trump’s insistence on funding for an extended border wall.

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After listening to the rumors, Agustin Gomez thought he ought to benefit from “the chance” to meet his son’s goals. He grabbed a number of modifications of clothes, purchased the boy new footwear and left with what cash he had, Gomez Lucas mentioned.

Felipe “all the time needed a bicycle,” and within the U.S. he wouldn’t need to endure the poverty and lack of alternative in Guatemala, she mentioned.

Felipe’s mom, 31-year-old Catarina Alonzo Perez, mentioned she spoke together with her son the day earlier than they arrived on the U.S. border.

“He wasn’t sick on the way in which; he wasn’t sick right here,” she mentioned by means of her stepdaughter within the Mayan language often known as Chuj.

Each Felipe and Jakelin got here from rural communities in Guatemala with excessive poverty. Each have been taken to the border by their mother and father and detained by the U.S. Border Patrol earlier than they fell sick.

It seems Felipe bought sick after authorities moved him from El Paso to Alamogordo, New Mexico, due to overcrowding.

“He was very glad to go away” on the voyage, mentioned Gomez Lucas, so the household doesn’t perceive what occurred to his well being.

She mentioned the household stopped listening to from Felipe’s father on Dec. 18, when he and the boy have been detained. On Dec. 25, he referred to as to say the boy had died in a hospital.

“He informed us that (Felipe) was nice all day, that he was taking part in with different youngsters. However then he mentioned he felt unhealthy and his abdomen ached,” the stepsister mentioned.

Felipe informed his father he didn’t know what was incorrect with him and that it felt like one thing was caught in his throat, Gomez Lucas mentioned.

The daddy mentioned Felipe requested him to not cry as a result of he “was not going to get higher,” in accordance with the boy’s stepsister.

Felipe was taken to a hospital, and the daddy mentioned he gave him to medical doctors, who quickly knowledgeable him his son had died.

U.S. Customs and Border Safety mentioned the boy displayed indicators of sickness Monday and was taken along with his father to the hospital, the place he was recognized with a chilly and a fever and prescribed amoxicillin and ibuprofen. He was launched that afternoon however returned to the hospital within the night with nausea and vomiting and died there simply after midnight, CBP mentioned.

After the 2 deaths, the federal government introduced that it will conduct further medical screening for kids and contemplate different modifications.

Agustin Gomez was drowning in debt, Gomez Lucas mentioned. He bought a bit of land to outlive, however the cash was not sufficient, so he determined to take out a mortgage and journey to the US.

Felipe is survived by 5 siblings, two from his father’s first marriage and three from his stepmother and father.

The boy lived along with his father’s household in a small wood home with earthen flooring. It lacked entry to primary companies. Gomez Lucas mentioned Felipe’s father earned about $6 a day by means of momentary farm jobs or harvesting espresso, which was not sufficient to help the household.

As with Jakelin’s household, Felipe’s relations now should cope with the dying of a kid, a debt and their continued fear in regards to the destiny of Agustin Gomez.

Oscar Padilla, the Guatemalan consul in Phoenix, confirmed that the daddy remains to be detained by the Border Patrol.

“My father is struggling due to the boy. We have no idea what’s going to occur. We have now nothing to dwell with. We do not need cash,” Gomez Lucas mentioned.

The Related Press contributed to this report.

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