Things That Matter

The Victims From That Heartbreaking Photo Of A Father And Daughter Who Drowned Crossing Into The US Have Been Laid To Rest

Photographs of Valeria, lying face down in the water with her little arm wrapped around the neck of her father, Oscar Alberto Martínez, broke hearts around the world and underscored the dangers that migrants undertake in trying to reach the US.

Now, their bodies have been laid to rest back in El Salvador.

Credit: @NBC10Boston / Twitter

A man and his young daughter who drowned trying to cross into Texas were laid to their final rest Monday, a week after a heartbreaking image of their bodies floating in the Rio Grande circled the globe.

About 200 relatives and friends followed a hearse bearing the bodies of Óscar Martínez and his 23-month-old daughter Valeria inside La Bermeja municipal cemetery in southern San Salvador. The ceremony was private, and journalists were not allowed access.

Many wore black and wept. They carried flowers and green palms, and some held signs bearing the logo of the Alianza soccer team favored by Óscar Martínez, who belonged to a group that supports the club. “For those who cheer you on from heaven,” one read.

Mourners stood with the family in their pain and time of need.

“I knew them. They are good people, and I can’t believe they died this way,” said Berta Padilla, who arrived earlier along with about 30 others on a bus from Altavista, the working-class city the Martínezes called home before they left in early April, headed for the United States. “We came from Altavista to be with Óscar’s family,” Padilla added in an interview with TIME. “We are with them in their pain.”

After the burial, relatives stayed behind at the gravesite to say a last goodbye, said family friend Reyna Moran. “This is very painful, most of all because of the baby. … They went in search of a better future, but everything came to an end in the river,” Moran said.

A collection of floral arrangements adorned the grave, including one from El Salvador’s president and first lady. Interior Minister Mario Durán was among those who attended.

The father and his daughter have been buried in a special section of the cemetery.

A municipal police officer said their graves were in a section of the cemetery named after Saint Óscar Romero, the San Salvador archbishop who devoted himself to helping the poor and was assassinated in 1980. Romero, who was canonized last year, is buried in the crypt of the city’s cathedral.

Before their heartbreaking deaths, the family had plans to make a new life for their daughter in the US.

Credit: @democracynow / Twitter

Martínez, 25, and his wife, Tania Vanessa Ávalos, 21, had been living with his mother and apparently felt that their salaries working at a pizza parlor and as a restaurant cashier would never be enough to purchase a modest home in their suburb of San Salvador.

That dream to save money for a home led the family to set out for the United States, according to Martínez’s mother, Rosa Ramírez.

The neighborhood they left behind in El Salvador is a humble bedroom community where most people live in low-rise, two-bedroom homes with a combination kitchen-living room-dining room, worth about $10,000-$15,000 each.

Meanwhile, El Salvador’s president has taken responsibility for the deaths.

Credit: @thehill / Twitter

The president of El Salvador said his country was to blame for the deaths of a Salvadoran man and his daughter who drowned last week while trying to cross the Rio Grande into the United States, The New York Times reports.

“People don’t flee their homes because they want to,” President Nayib Bukele said Sunday during a news conference. “They flee their homes because they feel they have to.”

“We can blame any other country, but what about our blame? What country did they flee? Did they flee the United States?” Bukele said. “They fled El Salvador.”

READ: This Cartoonist’s Right To Free Speech Is Under Threat As He Loses His Job For A Cartoon About Trump’s Failed Immigration Policies

Guatemalans Called Out A Viral Tweet For Misrepresenting Their Nation’s Tamal

Culture

Guatemalans Called Out A Viral Tweet For Misrepresenting Their Nation’s Tamal

@urfavsalvi / Twitter

It started with a simple tweet: “Aver which one do prefer?” Bryant Sosa Lara (@urfavsalvi) asked Twitter their favorite tamal, alongside a photo of different maíz-featured recipes emblazoned with their corresponding emoji flags. Mexican, Salvadoran, and Guatemalan Twitter rose up to toss their votes into the ring, and to defend their nation’s tamal recipe. “And I’m not trying to start an argument lol you’ll be surprised by my answer,” Sosa Lara follow-up tweeted to no avail. Thousands of likes, retweets and comments later, #Guatemala started trending and Sosa Lara had to post the most bien portado video to explain Latin America’s biggest misunderstanding yesterday.

Twitter users were quick to point out that one of these is not a tamal.

CREDIT: @URFAVSALVI / TWITTER

The Salvadoran “tamal” is in the center and before you start questioning (like everyone else) why El Salvador is represented by a burrito, don’t. “The salvi tamal is wrapped cause it JUST CAME OUT LA OLLA IT WAS HOT AF pasmados inútiles,” Sosa Lara defended. Guatemaltecos rose from their graves to point out that their representative dish is not a tamal. “Guatemalan tamales are wrapped in banana leaf wtf,” tweeted one Guatemalteca. “Those are chuchitos,” another Guatemalteca pointed. Pretty soon, everyone and their mother were trying to point out that Sosa Lara was wrong.

Thats not a Guatemalan Tamale. The ones from Guate are made using a banana leaf and is like twice the size of Mexican tamales,” tweeted one Señor Leo (@SenorLeo_). “Guatemalan tamales are wrapped in a banana leaf that are then individually wrapped in aluminum foil so that they’re as moist as possible,” tweeted Ivan Ortega (@IvanOrtega94). Others were perplexed AF, tweeting cropped photos of the Guatemalan dish and asking, “que en the f*** es esto?” Someone else hilariously joked, “Damm Guatemalan joints are FIREEEEE”

Guatemalan Twitter educated the lost and confused: “It’s a Chuchito, it isn’t really a Guatemalan Tamale.”

CREDIT: @WALTERG_REAL / TWITTER

“ES LA MISMA MIERDA!!!!! people really trippin cuz this man displayed a chuchito 💀” an incredulous tweeter shared along with a screenshot of a Google image search of chuchitos. Guatemalan chuchitos are usually much firmer and smaller than Mexican tamales but are prized for the salsa and curtido that comes with it. While Guate chuchitos are made with maís like Mexican tamales, in Guatemala, a tamal is always wrapped in a banana leaf and made of potatoes or plantains. 

“Lmao leave it to a salvadorian to start a full on war 🇬🇹,” someone else tweeted.

Even though Sosa Lara never called them tamales, the Internet got confused and started dissing Guatemala, enraging Guatemalans.

CREDIT: @YOOADRIENNEEE / TWITTER

“Guate with the sad a** tamal. that jaunt ta mal,” tweeted one Francisco. Of course, no proud Guatemalteca would allow their country’s tan rico tamales and chuchitos to be so misunderstood. “That ain’t no Guatemalan tamal that’s a chuchito,” one Adrienne responded. A dialogue commenced. “Ma’am that’s the word used to described a small dog in Salvadorian lingo. Example: “El perro de blues clues es un chuchito”. Thank you for coming to my Ted talk,” Francisco replied. “Well in guate it’s what that pic tries to pass as a traditional tamale,” Adrienne responded. Okay, alright, we see you.

But Lara Sosa *never* once called the chuchito a tamal and had to post a video to clarify and end the war.

CREDIT: @URFAVSALVI / TWITTER

“Why they diss our tamales like that?? It don’t even look like this?? 🇬🇹” tweeted @muertoculo. Sosa Lara took time out of his life to individually respond to the offended Guatemaltecos to tell them, “Scroll down and look at my video pasmado.” In the video, Sosa Lara took a moment to politely educate the people who called him “uncultured swine.” To all the folks who came out to angrily tell Sosa Lara that the chuchito isn’t a tamal… he knows. After people watched the video, there was only one conclusion to be made: that man es bien portado.  He politely recited all the shade he got and spoke “con todo respeto.” 

Y’all. The Chuchito won anyway.

CREDIT: @MUNOZISFANCY / TWITTER

Though Sara Martinez has an idea that could give us peace on earth. Why do we have to compare what the word “tamal” means in different countries? Her bid for world peace is to just compare dishes, regardless of their name, based on their ingredients. “K, first off: chuchitos are not even in the same level and they still won. Second, We need to start comparing husk with husk tamales and banana leaves with banana leaf tamales. Masa with masa and masa de papa with masa de papa. Don’t trip,” Guatemalteca Sara Martinez tweeted, enforcing universally respected tamal rules.

READ: People On Twitter Can’t Get Enough Of A Woman Selling The Official Tamales Of Billie Eilish

A Guatemalan Teen Died In Border Patrol Custody And Now Graphic New Video Shows His Last Hours

Things That Matter

A Guatemalan Teen Died In Border Patrol Custody And Now Graphic New Video Shows His Last Hours

Family of Carlos Gregorio Hernandez Vasquez

When 16-year-old Guatemalan Carlos Gregorio Hernandez Vasquez died six days after arriving at South Texas processing center, Customs and Border Protection released their version of events. Now, an uncovered ProPublica video reveals a different version. 

When Carlos died in May, acting Customs and Border Protection commissioner John Sanders said an agent found Carlos “unresponsive” after checking on him. However, ProPublica acquired a video of Carlos’ last hours that dispute he was provided with adequate healthcare. 

Carlos is the sixth migrant under 18 years old to die in federal custody under the Trump administration, according to the New York Times. Here’s what really happened.

Hours before he died, Carlos had a fever of 103 degrees, according to records.

The day before he died, a nurse instructed authorities to check on the 16-year-old in a couple of hours and said he should be taken to the emergency room if his sickness worsened. They did not follow the orders. Carlos was diagnosed with the flu, fearing he would contaminate other migrants agents moved into a quarantine cell. The next morning another sick boy in the cell found him dead.

The video shows that Carlos was visibly incredibly ill. It shows that the only way you couldn’t have noticed this teenage boy needed urgent care was if you were willfully ignoring him.

“The cellblock video shows Carlos writhing for at least 25 minutes on the floor and a concrete bench. It shows him staggering to the toilet and collapsing on the floor, where he remained in the same position for the next four and a half hours,” according to ProPublica. 

ProPublica referred to a Border Patrol “subject activity log” where it said an agent checked on him three times on the morning of his death but reported nothing out of the ordinary. The article suggests that “agent charged with monitoring him failed to perform adequate checks, if he even checked at all.” 

ProPublica believes the video disputes CBP’s account of Carlos’ death. 

The security video shows that it was Carlos’ cellmate who discovered his body, not any agents doing a welfare check, as CBP alleged in their press release. The video shows no welfare checks taking place at all. However, ProPublica discovered a four-hour gap of missing footage that coincides with the times an agent reported doing the welfare checks. CBP would not comment. A coroner heard secondhand that an agent may have checked by looking through the cell window. 

“On the video, the cellmate can be seen waking up and groggily walking to the toilet, where Carlos was lying in a pool of blood on the floor. He gestures for help at the cell door. Only then do agents enter the cell and discover that Carlos had died during the night,” ProPublica described. 

When ProPublica reporters asked Department of Homeland Security if cell footage of Carlos’ final hours were shown on the live video monitors, they would not comment. 

“While we cannot discuss specific information or details of this investigation, we can tell you that the Department of Homeland Security and this agency are looking into all aspects of this case to ensure all procedures were followed,” CBP spokesperson Matt Leas said.

Medical experts condemn the circumstances of the teenager’s death. 

“Why is a teenaged boy in a jail facility at all if he is sick with a transmissible illness? Why isn’t he at a hospital or at a home or clinic where he can get a warm bed, fluids, supervised attention and medical care? He is not a criminal,” said Dr. Judy Melinek, a forensic pathologist that reviewed Carlos’ death records

The New York Times notes the tens of millions of dollars have been funneled into migrant healthcare, with medical practitioners near the southwestern border increasing over tenfold. However, an examination by the paper found that most Border Patrol facilities in the area are insufficient in their ability to asses migrant health, despite years of internal warnings on the matter. 

“Flu can progress rapidly, but it’s not like a heart attack. Even when fast, it worsens over a period of hours. There should have been signs that indicated he needed to go to the hospital,” Dr. Joshya Sharfstein, who works at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health said.

Former commissioner Sanders has since resigned and expressed remorse over the situation blaming the largely Democratic Congress for being “unresponsive” — not necessarily the Trump administration for the problem, according to ProPublica

“I really think the American government failed these people. The government failed people like Carlos,” he said. “I was part of that system at a very high level, and Carlos’ death will follow me for the rest of my life.”

Carlos’ death was not entirely in vain. The loss of his life prompted new regulations for Border Patrol agents which require they physically enter the cells of sick detainees, conduct regular welfare checks, and take their temperatures.