Mother of Guatemalan Boy Who Died in Desert Begged Him Not to Go
The mother of a Guatemalan boy whose body was found in the desert about a mile from Texas’ southern border said Tuesday she begged him not set out on the dangerous journey from their modest wood and sheet-metal home high in the northern Cuchumatanes mountains.
But Cipriana Juarez Diaz, ailing and bedridden, said her son Gilberto told her he wanted to earn money to help her.
“I said, ‘Son, it’s better if you stay. Everything I have here is for you,’” the woman recalled on Tuesday in an interview with a local reporter, adding that she draped him with a white rosary as he left. “Now my son is dead, and I think about how he suffered.”
The boy’s family said they had last heard from him about 25 days before his body was found. At that time, he was in Reynosa, Mexico, waiting to cross the border. His father told authorities the boy was traveling with a migrant smuggler.
He was older than 11.
Authorities said Monday that Gilberto was 11, which would have made him one of the youngest known children to die crossing the desert. But his parents said Tuesday that Gilberto was 15.
The parents explained that they had taken several years to register his birth because of the remoteness of their village in Guatemala’s northern mountains. When they did, they had forgotten Gilberto’s actual birth date, so they listed the same date as his younger brother.