53 migrants have died in Texas together with this college-educated Honduran couple

Alejandro Miguel Andino Caballero has almost completed his undergraduate degree in marketing. His fiancée, Margie Tamara Paz Grajeda, has a degree in economics. Both see education as a means to launch a career and overcome humble origins in Honduras, where poverty, crime and pervasive corruption have long hindered social advancement.

But few doors open for the ambitious young couple. The pandemic and two major hurricanes in recent years have only dampened the economic outlook in one of the poorest countries in the hemisphere.

So, like many of their countrymen, Caballero, 23, and Paz Grajeda, 24, set off for the United States. Joining them was Caballero’s 18-year-old brother, who had also given up hope for his future in Honduras.

“They don’t leave because they want to give up their life in Honduras, or because they don’t like their country, or because they want to give up their family,” said the siblings’ mother, Karen Caballero. on Friday by phone from her. house in Las Vegas, Honduras. “They left because they didn’t have a chance to advance here.”

Two women embrace.

Karen Caballero lost her two sons in a tractor-trailer tragedy in Texas.

(Delmer Martinez / Associated Press)

These three are among 53 people – most, if not all, from Central America and Mexico – who died after being smuggled in a stuffy tractor-trailer discovered Monday in New York. suburb of San Antonio. It was one of the deadliest human trafficking tragedies in US history.

As authorities continued to identify the victims and notify relatives, officials slowly released the names of those killed in the massive rig – dubbed “the one in the rig” by the Latin American press. dead” in the Latin American press. Their story has resonated deeply in an area where migration, despite its dangers, has long been the surest route to growth in many communities.

Fernando Jose Redondo Caballero.

Fernando José Redondo Caballero at the age of 18.

(Karen Caballero)

Those who leave are those who make efforts, look for opportunities, want to improve their many things and help their loved ones back home according to a long tradition. Some of the people on the trailers come from rural areas and have little opportunity to consider professional calls. Two of the dead were 13-year-old cousins ​​from an indigenous community in northern Guatemala.

The case of brothers Caballero and Paz Grajeda is different. They do not fit the narrow stereotype of illegal migrants.

Despite the economic difficulties, Caballero and his fiancée managed to stay in their homeland, study and hopefully get a well-paying job. At a time when US policy is focused on creating jobs in Central America to stem migration, their story dramatizes how many talented young people aspire to make a career in the countryside. house was blocked.

Karen Caballero said: ‘They have their dreams, their goals, still in shock over the loss of two sons and a woman she considers her future daughter-in-law.

Caballero and Paz Grajeda met in high school and have been together ever since, his mother said. Both attended college in the city of San Pedro Sula, 60 miles north of Las Vegas.

But Paz Grajeda’s degree only got her a low-paying job in a call center. Caballero also struggled to find work and help at the family diner in Las Vegas, a farming and mining town of 26,000 people.

In the Latin American press, photos from social media accounts went viral showing Paz Grajeda sailing a kayak, her and Caballero embracing, and Caballero’s couple and brother, Fernando José Redondo Caballero, piled up. luggage and smiling for the camera, although it’s unclear when and where the picture was taken.

It was Fernando José, a teenager passionate about football and poetry, who initially wanted to come to the United States. Unlike his older siblings, he dropped out of school and showed little interest in studying.

“Imagine, Mom, if there are no jobs for learners here, what is left for an uneducated person like me?” Fernando told his mother, BBC Mundo reported.

His brother and fiancee finally signed on. They started planning the trip more than six months ago. “This is not something we take lightly,” said Karen Caballero, 42, who has a daughter, 22, and an infant grandson still in Honduras.

Paz Grajeda has another motivation: She needs money to help her mother pay for cancer treatment.

“That’s why she made this trip, for my health,” her mother, Gloria Paz, told the Honduran newspaper La Prensa. “I want her to stay working where she is, in the call center. But she walked away and said, ‘No mom, I’ll find a good job to pay for my surgery.’ “

Karen Caballero, whose brother lives in the US, said relatives in Honduras and the US paid for the trip. The original planned destination was Houston.

The three left on June 4. Karen Caballero accompanied them as far as Guatemala. She wanted to be there to say goodbye.

“In my head I think years might pass before I see them again,” she told La Prensa. “Because when a person comes to the United States, it is very difficult to return. I know that another 5, 10, 15 years may pass before we are reunited again.”

During their final moments together, Caballero said she reassured Alejandro, who was very nervous about the trip.

A woman and a man smiling at each other.

Margie Tamara Paz Grajeda and Alexander Miguel Andino Knight in Honduras.

(Karen Caballero)

“Nothing will happen,” she said she told him. “You are not the first and will not be the last to come to the United States.”

She bid them farewell: “I blessed them and said, ‘Kids, well done on the other hand [the other side] because here you can’t. ‘ ”

She kept in touch via WhatsApp as the three headed north through Mexico. She last heard from them last Saturday after they crossed over to Texas.

They are waiting for transport to the north.

McDonnell is a staff writer for the Times. Sanchez is a special reporter.

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