Things That Matter

A Tragic Accident Left Two Teenage Daughters Without Parents While Vacationing In Turks And Caicos

There is terrible news out of the Turks and Caicos Islands where authorities say three Texas tourists, including a married couple, drowned during a recent vacation. According to People Magazine, the couple, Irma Barrera, 33, and her husband, Roy Perez, 38, were vacationing with their 15-year-old daughter and the third victim and his daughter when they drowned after getting caught in a quick-moving tide this past Monday. 

The group was reportedly exploring Bambarra Beach, a popular and scenic tourist area when the group of five got caught in a tidal wave that fueled by strong winds. The Royal Turks and Caicos Islands Police Force said the incident happened around 1 p.m. near the beach which is located on the sparsely populated island of Middle Caicos.

Barrera’s body would be found washed ashore shortly after the incident and after searchers scoured the beaches, they recovered Perez’s a few hours later. The third body, identified as Dr. Richard Okoloise, was discovered early on Tuesday morning with assistance from the US Coast Guard.

The terrible incident has now left two families torn apart and two children devastated by the loss of a parent.

Credit: @CNN / Twitter

The victims belonged to two families who hailed from Texas. Their families say the group was vacationing together along with their two girls. Residents in the area say that the families may have been attempting to swim a short distance through the shallow waters from Bambarra Beach to Pelican Cay, which is nearby to the beach when they were swept away in the fast-moving tide.

Rescuers were able to rescue both of the young girls from the water and save them from drowning. Both were being cared for shortly after by local social welfare services. Family members back home are working to get the children back to the home to the United States. According to KTRK-TV, family members of Barrera’s and Perez’s were traveling to the Caribbean archipelago on Wednesday to bring the couple’s daughter home and seek more answers on how this incident could have ever happened. 

“This was a tragic loss of life and obviously all of us are asking every question we can about what went wrong,” Commissioner of Police Trevor Botting said in a public statement. “Our thoughts and our prayers go out to everyone, most especially the children involved.

“We live in a world filled with many bad things, but we still have good Samaritans,” Botting added. “I would like to thank those who came to the aide of the children and everyone who were a part of the search and rescue, this includes volunteers, our Emergency Response Teams and the U.S. Coastguard Helicopter crew.”

We are now learning more about the couple and father who tragically drowned. 

Credit: @abcnews / Twitter

Families and friends are now mourning the horrible incident and remembering those who have been lost. According to her Facebook profile, Barrera worked as a nurse at Angleton Emergency Room while her husband is being called a “family man” by various friends on Facebook. 

“My classmate, friend, brother this is how I’ll remember you. Every picture with your family always brought a smile. A class clown to say the least! I remember about a year ago you messaged me saying that you were proud of me. Yet today I want to say how proud I am of you. Your daughters adore you man! Your daughters will forever be in my prayers. May You & your Wife Rest In Peace.” a friend wrote on his Facebook profile.

Okoloise, an emergency medicine physician in Angleton, Texas, is being also hailed a great person who had an undeniable love for his young daughter. He was said to have always wanted to travel to Turks and Caicos if he ever got rich. 

“He loved medicine, traveling, and his family,” Annamarie Kilgore, a friend and colleague of Okoloise wrote on Facebook. “I will miss his ridiculous talks. However, I’m thankful he was called while being in his favorite place in the world. He always told me ‘if I ever disappear after a lottery win, I’ll be hiding in Turks and Caicos.'”

The deadly incident has prompted calls from local residents for authorities to put up warning signs on the islands which are often-deserted beaches. It’s yet to be determined if any action will be taken to further stop any future incident similar to this. 

Family friends have set up a GoFundMe page to pay for funeral arrangements.

READ: Central Americans Flee Their Countries Because Of Violence But Also Because They Have No Water

A New Documentary Exposes The Massacre In Porvenir, Texas That Left 15 Mexican-Americans Dead

Entertainment

A New Documentary Exposes The Massacre In Porvenir, Texas That Left 15 Mexican-Americans Dead

porvenirmovie / Instagram

Porvenir is a Spanish word. If you break it down, por venir literally means to come, and the translation is the future. It’s also the name of what used to be a tiny town in Texas located right next to the Rio Grande on the border. The village of Porvenir in Texas, which is a town no more, had roots that reflect the brutal and deadly colonization that this country was built on. 

“Porvenir, Texas” is a new documentary on PBS that brings to light the massacre that happened on the border more than 100 years ago. 

Credit: porvenirmovie / Instagram

As the tense immigration crisis continues in this country today, the documentary “Porvenir, Texas” shows how this struggle has been part of our history since the inception of the United States of America. 

The story of the massacre cannot be told before discussing the war between the U.S. and Mexico. While the U.S. continued to expand in the southwest through its war with Mexico, the battle to live and remain in the country affected the most vulnerable people who weren’t part of the war at all. They were Mexicans who lived in Texas and along the border before it was ever part of the United States. However, after Mexico lost Texas to the United States, those living in Texas, became Americans overnight. That didn’t please the incoming residents — white people looking to make the country their home. 

The documentary exposes the brutal killing of 15 Mexican men — some who were American as well — which the U.S. tried to hide from history. 

Credit: porvenirmovie / Instagram

With the expansion of the U.S. throughout its new state of Texas, white ranchers staked their claim in areas that were owned by Mexican-Americans. Like gentrification today, Texas was also gentrified during the Wild West, which meant Mexicans, who were now Americans, were displaced because of higher taxes. 

With the revolution still going on in the Mexican border and new white ranchers taking over land, racial tensions were high. White people were told that all Mexicans were “bandits” and Mexican-Americans were in fear for their lives thinking they could be killed based on the color of their skin.

White people were killing Mexican-Americans outright with no consequences, and the film shows graphic images of that. 

Credit: porvenirmovie / Instagram

Here’s a summary of that fateful violent night as reported by NBC News: “In the early morning hours of Jan. 28, 1918, a group of ranchers, Texas Rangers, and U.S. Army cavalry soldiers entered the village and rousted the residents from their beds. They led away 15 unarmed men and boys of Mexican descent to a nearby bluff, where they shot and killed them. These victims ranged in age from 16 to 72, and some were American citizens. The town’s women and children fled across the border to Mexico for safety. The next day, the perpetrators returned and burned the village to the ground. Porvenir ceased to exist.”

We have no idea how many other Mexican-Americans were killed with such brutality during this period because there’s no record of it. The only reason the story of Porvenir can be told today is because of two men that documented what happened. 

Credit: porvenirmovie / Instagram

Harry Warren was a white teacher that worked with some of the community in Porvenir and wrote about what happened that night. He also was a witness to the bodies.  José Tomás (“J.T.”) Canales, who was a state legislator at the time, launched an investigation against the Rangers, and his depositions and testimony have been preserved as well. 

“There were many cases like Porvenir, where the initial response from the state was to try to fabricate what really took place,” Monica Muñoz Martinez, an assistant professor at Brown University and the founding member of the public history project Refusing To Forget, told NBC News. “It was not unusual for the state to try to justify such acts, by criminalizing the victims. Residents of Porvenir were described at times as squatters or bandits. None of this is true.”

Christina Fernandez Shapter produced the film and spoke about the importance of making sure these stories are never forgotten. 

Credit: jefegreenheart / Instagram

“I am Mexican American myself, I am from Texas, my family has been here for generations,” she told NBC News. “And I know we all have stories in our families, sometimes of land being taken from us or other injustices.”

Here’s a clip of the film.

Click here to watch the entire documentary. 

READ: This Exhibition Told The Stories Of Mexicans And Mexican-Americans Who Were Illegally Deported In The ’20s And ’30s

After Spending His Life in Foster Care, 4 Year Old Noah Cuatro Was Returned To His Parents, Where He Died Shortly After

Things That Matter

After Spending His Life in Foster Care, 4 Year Old Noah Cuatro Was Returned To His Parents, Where He Died Shortly After

On July 5th of this year, a 4-year-old boy named Noah Cuatro was found dead by first res ponders in the pool of the apartment complex he was living in. His parents Jose Cuatro Jr. and Ursula Elaine Juarez, insisted that they had found his body already lifeless, floating in the pool. The couple claimed he had drowned. But the police were immediately on alert to the suspicious circumstances surrounding his death. Authorities quickly suspected foul play in the 4-year-old’s death. 

On Thursday morning, law enforcement officials arrested both Cuatro Jr. and Juarez, charging them with the murder of their son.

As soon as Noah’s body was taken to the hospital the parents’ supposed cause of death and the reality of his injuries were inconsistent. Although his parents claimed Noah died by drowning, his injuries were inconsistent with that claim. What’s more, the hospital staff  “observed evidence of injuries to Victim Noah Cuatro’s body” that were consistent with signs of abuse. All of the coinciding evidence made it more likely that his death was not a straight-forward accident. 

In late September, the death was officially ruled a homicide by the Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner. Two days later, Cuatro Jr. and Juarez were arrested. According to officials, the parents are being charged with a litany of crimes: murder, torture, assault on a child causing death, and child abuse resulting in death. Cuatro Jr. and Juarez are being held on $3 million bail each. If they are convicted Cuatro and Juarez might be sentenced to a maximum of life in prison, or a minimum of 32 years. 

Before he died, Noah spent his short life being shuttled between the care of his parents, the foster system, and his great-grandmother. 

Social workers were involved in Noah’s life from birth. He was first removed from the custody of his parents in 2014 and placed in foster care. Later in the year, his great-grandmother, Eva Hernandez, was given temporary custody of him. Although he spent much of his life in Hernandez’s care, Noah also bounced between the foster system, his parents, and his great-grandmother’s care throughout his life. In 2018, he was, for one final time, given back to his biological parents, although the reason for his most recent removal was due to “medical neglect”. 

According to his grandmother, Noah had been vocal about his fear of returning to his parents’ house. “I just wish [the Department of Child and Family Services] would have listened to him,” Hernandez told reporters in July. “He did say, ‘Please don’t do this, don’t send me back.'” But according to Hernandez, Noah refused to tell her about any abuse that was happening at his parents’ home. “He would not say,” said Hernandez. “He did tell me one time that they used to make his older brother punch him, hit him.”

Four-year-old Noah’s death seems all the more tragic because, according to reports, it may have been preventable. 

As the story has developed, the story has illuminated the failures of the Department of Child and Family Services (DCFS) to protect Noah. Evidence suggests that the DCFS were directed by courts to investigate anonymous claims that Noah was being sexually abused in May–mere weeks before his death. If this were the case, the department legally had 72 hours to conduct a forensic examination of Noah. According to Eva Hernandez’s attorney, Brian Claypool, the department failed to do so. 

According to Claypool, if the examination had taken place, sexual abuse “would’ve been confirmed, he would’ve been permanently removed from his home and he would be alive today”. “This little boy should’ve been removed from that house when he was two years old,” Claypool continued. “Let alone waiting until he was four and a half years old and watching him die.” Claypool has announced that he and Hernandez “plan to hold the Department of Children and Family Services accountable” for what they perceive as neglect. As for Los Angeles DCFS, they have recently issued an apology for the failure of their “safety net”.

As for the public, they are struggling to come to terms with the senseless and tragic death of a child that looks as if it could’ve been prevented.

There should be iron-clad safe guards against children losing their lives to abusive parents. 

Many people are disappointed in what they see as institutional shortcomings of child welfare systems.

Because children are so defenseless, it’s up to others to protect them from harm. That responsibility should not be taken lightly. 

This person believes that just because someone is a biological parent, doesn’t mean they are emotionally prepared to raise a child:

All in all, it seems like another senseless tragedy has taken another young life much too soon.