NEW YORK – The Ecuadorian teenager who was the lone survivor of a massacre of 72 migrants at a ranch in northeastern Mexico has spoken with his parents – residents of New Jersey – for the first time since the killings.
“Dad, I’m still alive. I’m not dead,” Luis Freddy Lala Pomavilla told his father, the survivor’s parents told Channel 41 television, a Univision affiliate.
The couple agreed to be interviewed under condition that their names be withheld for security reasons.
The adolescent’s parents, who live in Newark, said it pained them to see a photograph of their son at a hospital in Mexico, where he is recuperating from a gunshot wound.
Fighting back sobs, Lala Pomavilla’s mother said she wants to know how long her son will be hospitalized and when she and her husband will be able to see him.
“I want to hear from the doctor when they’re going to release him, where they’re going to send him and what’s going to happen. God only knows; I’m placing him in God’s hands,” she said.
Lala Pomavilla, who turns 18 next week, was shot in the neck but survived the massacre in the northeastern state of Tamaulipas by pretending he was dead.
He managed to inform the police about the slaying of 58 men and 14 women who were accompanying him on his dangerous attempt to reach the United States.
The teenager is from a hamlet of some 400 people in Ecuador’s southern Andean region, where he lived with his wife, Angelita, who is four months pregnant and was the only person who knew about her husband’s plans to undertake the treacherous journey.
Lala Pomavilla told Mexican investigators the murders were committed by members of the notorious Zetas drug cartel and that the victims were from Brazil, Ecuador, El Salvador and Honduras.
The migrants were kidnapped by armed men before they reached the U.S. border, he said.
Tamaulipas and neighboring Nuevo Leon state have been dealing with a wave of violence unleashed by drug traffickers battling for control of smuggling routes into the United States.
The violence has intensified in the two border states since the appearance in February in Monterrey, the capital of Nuevo Leon, of giant banners heralding an alliance of the Gulf, Sinaloa and La Familia Michoacana drug cartels against Los Zetas, a band of Mexican special forces deserters turned hired guns.
Heriberto Lazcano Lazcano deserted from the Mexican army in 1999 and formed Los Zetas with three other soldiers, all members of an elite special operations unit, joining the Gulf drug cartel.
After several years as the armed wing of the Gulf cartel, Los Zetas went into the drug business on their own account and now control several lucrative territories. EFE