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  HOME | Ecuador (Click here for more)

Ecuadorian Massacre Survivor Gets Police Protection Again

QUITO – Luis Freddy Lala Pomavilla, one of the two survivors of a massacre last summer in Mexico, and his family are once again receiving police protection, the Ecuadorian Attorney General’s Office said.

Lala Pomavilla and a Honduran were the only survivors of the Aug. 22 massacre of 72 Latin American migrants at a ranch near San Fernando, a town in the northeastern Mexican state of Tamaulipas.

The Ecuadorian teenager survived by pretending he was dead, then he notified Mexican marines, who found the bodies of the 58 men and 14 women after a shootout with gunmen at the ranch that left a marine and three criminals dead.

Officials are also looking at providing the family with other assistance, such as food, medical care and access to education, AG’s office witness protection program chief Cristian Lombeida told Efe.

Ten of the massacre survivor’s 13 relatives had been in the witness protection program, but officials dropped them from the program just over a week ago because of problems with Lala Pomavilla’s father, Alejandro Lala, Lombeida said.

Lala Pomavilla told authorities that Los Zetas, considered Mexico’s most violent drug cartel, was behind the massacre in Tamaulipas.

He also told investigators that the migrants were kidnapped by armed men before they reached the U.S. border.

The victims were from Ecuador, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras and Brazil, but the majority were Hondurans.

Lala Pomavilla said last week that he and his family had not received the assistance promised by Ecuador’s government, a charge that was denied by the AG’s office and the National Migrants Secretariat.

“When I arrived in Quito, the doctors they promised came and they swore they were going to give us two-story houses, land, animals, businesses, everything, food for three years, that they are never going to leave us and now they come out denying that they are not going to give us anything, now they leave my family out in the street (sic),” Lala Pomavilla told Ecuadorian television.

The government has provided assistance to the family and a commission will be sent to speak with them about the abuse allegations Lala Pomavilla leveled at the police officers assigned to guard the clan, National Migrants Secretary Lorena Escudero said earlier this week.

Lombeida, for his part, denied that the officers assigned to the witness protection program had abused the family.

The evidence gathered so far indicates that the massacre was carried out by Los Zetas, Mexican officials said.

Mexican investigators are working on the theory that the kidnapped migrants were killed after they refused to work for the Zetas cartel.

After several years as the armed wing of Mexico’s Gulf cartel, Los Zetas went into the drug business on their own account and now control several lucrative territories. EFE

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