PUEBLA, Mexico – The 105 urns containing the ashes of Mexican migrants who died from COVID-19 in the cities of Connecticut, New Jersey and New York in the United States arrived in the central Mexican state of Puebla on Monday.
“You’re home now, Pueblan migrant, rest in peace on the land where you were born,” was the inscription that was placed on each of the urns of the migrants, who died due to the novel coronavirus during the last few months away from their birthplace.
A mourning ceremony was held, in which the work of the migrants was recognized as well as their courage for having taken the decision to move to another country to pursue the American dream, even though it meant moving away from their families, whom they sought to offer a better life.
Family members said their last goodbyes to their parents or siblings amid tears, memories and nostalgia as a mariachi began singing the song “Cielito lindo.”
So far, 398 Mexicans have died due to COVID-19 on US territory, according to figures of the Mexican authorities.
German Ortiz Trinidad, a resident of the municipality of Atlixco, said that after three months he is finally at peace after receiving the ashes of his brother, who died from the virus in April.
Ortiz said that due to the state of emergency in New York, the necessary formalities to bring his brother’s remains home could not be completed. However, owing to the efforts of the US and Mexican authorities, his brother could now finally be laid to rest.
“We are more at peace having them here, on receiving my brother’s ashes” that they were anxiously awaiting, Ortiz said.
He explained that after his brother’s death, there was great uncertainty about whether or not he could return to Puebla, “but especially with my mother,” and thanks to the support of the consulate and the government of Puebla, his remains were repatriated.
“We are happy, fortunately, we will say goodbye to him (…) according to the tradition of Puebla, by making him rosaries and doing everything that is done,” Ortiz said.
Guadalupe Guzman, a native of Puebla’s capital, received the ashes of her father whom she had not seen for 13 years – the only contact they had was through social media – which made the loss even deeper as her father had always been her role model.
“My brothers in the US decided that the ashes should be brought to Puebla, as he dreamed of returning to his land, a place that gave him the strength to take the decision to seek a better life,” she said.
Doris Ortiz, sister of a migrant who died in New York, longed for a reunion with her brother, with whom she had shared special moments.
Due to the distance, they had only communicated by telephone and social media during the 28 years her brother had lived in the US and last met seven years ago.
“It’s been hard, because we wanted to meet again, but not in this way, after almost three months my brother has arrived and we’re going to have him here,” she said.
Her brother died on April 19, and it was a complicated wait after that due to the closure of borders.
“Every month, they said that they were going to open the borders and it was a very difficult and painful wait, especially for my mom, who is depressed and sad,” she added.
On Saturday, while departing from the US, Mexico’s consul in New York, Jorge Islas Lopez, highlighted the legacy left behind by the Mexican migrants, who demonstrated that they are productive and work with honesty and dedication.
He said that the deceased migrants worked two or three jobs and rested little so that their families could have better lives.
The governor of Puebla, Miguel Barbosa, said that Mexicans owe a great deal to migrants, and lamented the lack of opportunities that forced them to leave their country.
Until Monday, Mexico had recorded more than 300,000 coronavirus infections and over 35,000 deaths since the start of the epidemic in the country on Feb. 28.