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Guatemalan family mourns Jakelin Caal, 7, who died in US custody

San Antonio Secortez, Guatemala-Nine-year-old Audel Caal brings a small arrangement of artificial white flowers as he diminishes the dirt course leading to his grandfather’s home in the rural Guatemalan town of San Antonio Secortez.

Paying attention to the details, he carefully positions the arrangement in a glass and aligns a framed photo of the younger sister, Jakelin.

“I’m actually unfortunate,” Audel states, fighting back tears. “We played a lot.”

Jakelin passed away previously this month while in the custody of the US Customs and Border Defense (CBP) company. She was 7 years old.

“We do not want what took place to us to take place to anybody else,” says Jakelin’s 61-year-old indigenous Q’eqchi’Maya grandpa, Domingo, who has actually lived in San Antonio Secortez given that its establishing more than 3 decades back.

“Migrants need more attention and security from the United States,” Domingo informs Al Jazeera. “Every day, there are thousands and thousands of people migrating all over the world.”

AJazeera Family disagreements United States story Jakelin died in CBP custody on December 8 after being detained together with her daddy, Nery, a day prior in New Mexico. US government officials initially declared the seven-year-old died of dehydration, however her dad refuted these claims. The main cause of death is pending as the autopsy outcomes are being settled.

The administration of US President Donald Trump blamed Jakelin’s daddy and individuals smugglers, typically described as coyotes, who led the pair, along with more than 150 more across the border.

181220212804745″ This is exactly why we try to encourage migrants to go a port of entry. Sadly, they showed up in the middle of the night in the middle of no place,” Kirstjen Nielsen, the Homeland Security Secretary, said prior to your house Judiciary Committee on Thursday. “As soon as [the daddy] suggested there was a health problem, we did what we might do as quickly as possible to get her to medical care … the men and ladies of CBP did whatever they could do.”

However the household declines that Jakelin was ill upon showing up at the border.

“The government and Donald Trump are negating the case of my child,” Claudia Maquin, Jakelin’s 27-year-old mother, tells Al Jazeera in her native Q’eqchi’ language through a translator. “He is stating she didn’t get ill in custody. It was in their country and they are accountable for her death.”

Jakelin’s mother Claudia gets in touch with the US to let her spouse remain in the nation to find work [Jeff Abbott/Al Jazeera

] Claudia, standing in her home in San Antonio Secortez, adds that she believes the US is attempting to “protect their backs”.

Claudia wants the Trump administration to enable her 29-year-old other half to remain in the US in order to find work to pay back the financial obligation he built up while leaving to the United States. She likewise hopes he can stay to live out Jakelin’s imagine living in the US.

“The worst and the most uncomfortable thing that might occur to us is that my hubby returns without finishing his and our daughter’s dream,” Claudia states.

Nery stays in CBP custody and may be deported as early as Sunday, according to the family.

Discrimination, hardship, environment modification

Jakelin and her dad left to the United States for the same reasons that have actually pushed hundreds from the location to leave. Guatemala has long struggled with systemic inequalities and discrimination against native communities.

181220163125556 The extreme hardship and absence of federal government attention have actually pushed numerous to migrate as a way of survival, particularly in San Antonio Secortez. According to Domingo, Jakelin’s grandpa, at least 12 other families there have actually moved to the US.

This is reflective of the rest of the communities throughout the municipality of Raxruha. According to Pedro Ico, the spokesman for the town of Raxruha, a minimum of 200 families have actually migrated from the region.

“The severe hardship is triggering lots of to move from our town,” Pedro tells Al Jazeera, including that families began leaving in 2017 due to lack of chances in the town.

“The prices of the items that we produce here do not have any worth,” Pedro states. “Farmers have to work day to night, but there is no return. Because of this, many are moving.”

Poverty and environment change are pressing lots of from the neighborhood to leave to the United States [Jeff Abbott/Al Jazeera] San Antonio Secortez sits

in the lavish Guatemalan department of Alta Verapaz. Here, the land is amongst the most important possessions for rural farmers. For centuries, peasant farmers have faced the rampant growth of agro-industry. This has actually resulted in comprehensive inequalities of land ownership, especially for the native Q’eqchi ‘communities. The community of San Antonio Secortez was established in the early 1980s after years of battle to acquire access to the land, which according to Caal was once owned by General Fernando Romeo Lucas Garcia, the totalitarian of Guatemala between 1978 and 1982.


was a difficult struggle. The Guatemalan military carried out massacres throughout the area throughout the dictatorship of Lucas Garcia and the subsequent administration of Efrain Rios Montt.

“It threatened and it was a long struggle,” Domingo states. “There wasn’t any liberty to perform these type of actions.”

Domingo was 27 years of ages when he won the rights to the land. He left this triumph for his children.

Yet in the decades considering that the neighborhood has actually been heavily affected by the absence of opportunity and by environment change, these factors are driving many to make the dangerous journey to the United States.

“There is less rain every day and it is getting warmer,” Domingo says.

181210211443443 What little is produced is inadequate to support the family.

“Here, there is no chance to work, we are getting low spend for what we produce and everyday things are more costly,” Claudia says. “My husband decided to go to the United States to find the ways to support our family.”

Nery worked nearly 0.4 hectare of land. Through this, the household makes around 700 quetzals (approximately $90) every six months following the biannual corn harvest.

Expanding production was not an option.

“We could not offer more because we needed the corn ourselves,” Claudia says. “And we might not plant anymore because there was not any more land.”

It pains us deeply that we lost our child while looking for a better life.

Claudia Maquin, Jakelin’s 27-year-old mother

According to Claudia, her spouse had attempted to discover deal with the close-by palm oil plantations the previous year, however no one was employing.

It was earlier this year that her other half started to speak about moving to the US. His goal was to make money to purchase more land to support the household.

Unlike other neighbours, Caal did not mortgage his land to get the money to pay the smugglers, locally referred to as coyotes, to organize his journey to the United States.

“My partner never ever had a financial obligation with the coyotes. He has a debt with our neighbours and household members,” Claudia says.

The stress of having to repay the loan weighs difficult on Claudia, she states. For now, however, she needs to prepare to bury her daughter, whose body is set up to go back to her neighborhood on Sunday.

“It discomforts us deeply that we lost our child while in search of a much better life.”


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