The advice of a friend to sit near the door of a trailer box may have saved the life of Yenifer Yulisa Cardona Tomas, Survivor of the tragedy in San Antonio, Texas, where 53 migrants died last week after traveling in a trailer that was abandoned.
It was June 27 when Cardona, 20, got into the vehicle. “I told a friend not to go all the way in and we stayed at the beginning, in the same place, without moving.” She remembers that little by little she was leaning on someone and she didn’t know any more.
“Then I woke up in the hospital,” Cardona Tomas told Associated Press by telephone from the hospital where he is.
Upon entering the trailer, the “coyotes” —as the human traffickers who hire them to travel to the United States are called — They took away their cell phones and sprinkled spices — she believes it was chicken broth — on the floor of the van so that the dogs wouldn’t detect the migrants. “That was very itchy on the body,” she said.
Cardona affirmed that there were about 70 people and that while people were feeling the heat, they gathered at the exit of the trailer, right where she had stayed.
As the trailer moved, it made additional stops to pick up more migrants.
“People were screaming, some were crying. Most of all the women asked him to stop and open the doors because the truck was hot and they couldn’t breathe,” she recalled.
According to Cardona, someone who assumes he was the driver told them that they would arrive soon. “There are 20 minutes left, six minutes,” he said according to Cardona, who is hospitalized at the Metropolitan Methodist Hospital in San Antonio.
“People asked for water. Some are finished. Others did carry,” said the young woman who was hospitalized for eight days.
From Guatemala to North Carolina
Cardona had told her parents that she wanted to go to work in the United States after graduating as a secretary, but she was unemployed, recalls her father, Mynor Cordón.
The girl’s father paid a coyote $4,000 to get his daughter to her destination in North Carolina. She left Guatemala on May 30 traveling in cars and trucks before getting into the trailer.
“I did not know that I would travel in the trailer. She told us that she would be on foot, it seems that it was at the last moment that the traffickers decided to put the young woman in the van, along with two other friends, who survived. One of them is still in critical condition.”
cardona finally crossed the Rio Grande a few days before the tragedy and was locked up in a warehouse inside US territory. The last message reached her parents at 10:28 on Monday. “In an hour we will leave,” she said.
The parents found out about the tragedy until 9 p.m. on the same Monday, but they did not hear from their daughter until Wednesday, June 29, when relatives in the United States received the news and informed their parents that Yenifer was alive in the hospital.
“We cried so much, even I was already thinking about where we were going to watch over her and bury her. She is a miracle,” her father said.
Foreign Minister Mario Búcaro said that they expect the repatriation of the first bodies to take place this week.