CATARINA, Guatemala (Reuters) – The family of a young Guatemalan woman believed to be among 19 victims of a massacre in northern Mexico has urged the Mexican government to bring those responsible to justice.
Authorities in Mexico’s Tamaulipas state bordering the United States this month recovered the bodies, which some Guatemalan families said they feared were loved ones who had been trying to migrate to the United States.
Many of the dead had gunshot wounds and were badly charred. Authorities are still trying to identify them.
Paola Damaris Zacarias, 22, from the small Guatemalan town of Catarina near the border with Mexico, is suspected to have been among those who died, her grieving family told Reuters.
“We want justice, an investigation that gets right to the bottom of who was responsible,” her brother Hector Zacarias said in an interview on Friday. “I ask the Mexican authorities to look into this, to find out the truth, and what motivated it.”
“This has caused us great sorrow.”
Paola’s father, Gerardo Zacarias, said the family had given DNA samples in the hope that investigators can identify the remains found in Tamaulipas, an often dangerous region where migrants have previously fallen victim to ruthless drug gangs.
Zacarias said his daughter had set off for the United States to find work because of the lack of opportunities in Guatemala. The family last heard from her on Jan. 22, he said, not long before Mexican officials discovered the bodies.
The killings have caused renewed consternation in Mexico about the perils faced by migrants, many of whom come from the three violent and impoverished Central American countries of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.
Hector Zacarias was disconsolate.
“These are young people with goals, who were battling to get ahead in the world,” he said. “But unfortunately, they fell into the hands of people with no heart, no mercy.”
(Writing by Dave Graham; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)