Q REPORTS – Saturated morgues and funeral homes, unidentified bodies in a state of decomposition, a system overwhelmed by the large number of deaths of migrants in the Rio Grande and the slow process to identify or repatriate them is what the Texas Nicaraguan Community (TNC) organization reports during fieldwork he carried out in Laredo, Texas, on August 26.
The organization pointed out that around 200 bodies of migrants who died in the Rio Grande, between the border area of Mexico and the United States, and that were recovered on the Texas side, lie in a morgue and two funeral homes in Laredo; but because they exceeded the capacity and there are no conditions to keep the bodies, they are beginning to be buried after collecting the information for registration and then trying to locate their families.
The agency arrived with a list of 12 missing persons, most of these occurred in the Rio Grande, but only one body could be identified, that of Francisco Javier Téllez. Currently, four are in the process of repatriation.
“The serious problem that the work team that went to Laredo managed to see is that there is a huge number of bodies in the morgue, we are talking that it exceeded its capacity (…) So that morgue no longer has the capacity to receive one more body,” said one of the members of the organization.
The representative explained that when a migrant dies on the Rio Grande, and is rescued from the US side, the border patrol arrives with a forensic expert to take fingerprints and photographs. The funeral homes, which previously have a contract with the county of Maverick, Texas, are in charge of removing the bodies from the river and sending them to the corresponding state morgues.
Families would pay exhumation if bodies are buried
“What is happening? That the morgues are completely full, that there is no space, so they are having bodies in funeral homes, and they are bodies of the drowned who have been in the water for several days, in a state of decomposition and they do not put them in refrigeration,” said the representative.
According to the explanations of the funeral homes, and collected by the organization, the bodies that are in a high state of decomposition are buried immediately, once they are first identified by the authorities: photos, clothing data or some element that can serve to identify them and fingerprints.
Given this situation, the agency clarified that if families want to repatriate the remains after burial, they will incur the cost of the exhumation.
Ineffectiveness of the Nicaraguan consul. In the case of Nicaraguans who have died on the US side of the border, TNC stressed that the situation is made worse by the “inefficiency and ineffectiveness” of the Nicaraguan consulate, which makes the repatriation process longer than usual.
The Nicaraguan Foreign Ministry in Texas is under the administration of Samuel Trejos, who has the responsibility, first of all, of contacting the morgues of that state to provide the physical and clothing descriptions of the disappeared. However, this does not happen, the agency has repeatedly denounced.