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  HOME | Ecuador (Click here for more)

High Youth Suicide Rate Mars Migrants’ Town in Ecuador

QUITO – A total of 58 minors, all children of emigrants, have committed suicide over the past five years in Chunchi, a town in the central-Andean Ecuadorian province of Chimborazo, the Expreso newspaper reported Sunday.

“Since 2005, 58 children ended their lives,” the daily reported in its article about the story of a 17-year-old girl who recently swallowed a large dose of rat poison.

“Before dying, Lourdes del Rocio wrote a letter in which she detailed the reasons (for her suicide). It was read at her high school. She said she always missed her parents, who went with the ‘coyotes’ (migrant smugglers) after her birth. She remained in the care of her sisters, but over the years they formed their own families, except for her, who had to jump from house to house,” the newspaper said.

Mayor Walter Narvaez said that on his latest visit to the United States he encountered a community of 4,500 natives of Chunchi, while in his town in Ecuador there are 780 children living without their parents.

The small town has become a spot where one only sees grandchildren and grandparents, the daily said, adding that the town government should intercede in this abandonment of these kids.

The town council identified the 205 most complex cases in the area and promoted a comprehensive program of nourishment, sports and cultural activities so that the children of emigrants can occupy their free time more productively.

There is nobody in Chunchi who does not have a relative who has not risked his or her life with the coyotes, as people traffickers are known, Expreso said.

In the community of Tauri, just five minutes from Chunchi, with the money from emigrants’ remittances there are big houses that have been renovated and others that are just being finished, the newspaper said.

The daily called attention to the fact that in many of these homes the image of the Virgin of Guadalupe has been placed on the walls as an expression of gratitude for the migrants who crossed Mexico on foot and successfully made it across the U.S. border, Expreso said.

Along one road near the town lives a 39-year-old woman with her four children, the youngest of whom – just 2 years old – is a U.S. citizen.

The woman lived in New York for eight years but when the recession hit she lost her job.

Upon her return to Ecuador, the second-oldest of her children, age 17, begged her for help to travel to the United States.

“He reproached me and told me that I wasn’t doing anything to help him. I told him that nothing is easy there and there’s a lot of suffering. He didn’t want to listen to me. They (the people traffickers) came to find us. We arranged his trip for $11,000 and he left on July 15,” she said.

On Aug. 26, she received a telephone call from her ex-husband who lives in the United States and who told her that “the smuggler called him to tell him that (her son) was on the list of the 72 (migrants) massacred” at a ranch in northeast Mexico, the woman said.

The suspected people smuggler who organized the trip to Mexico by Luis Freddy Lala Pomavilla, one of the survivors of the Aug. 24 massacre, has been arrested, the Ecuadorian Attorney General’s Office said Saturday.

Miguel Dutan Meneses, “considered one of the heads of a gang of ‘coyotes’ that traffics people in the provinces of Cañar and Azuay,” was arrested Friday night in Cañar, the AG’s office said.

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