Mexican families struggle to send coronavirus victims back home

NEW YORK (AP) — When Crescencio Flores died of coronavirus in New York, his mother and father again in Mexico requested for one factor: that their son be despatched house for burial.

The 56-year-old development employee had been in the US for 20 years, often sending cash to his mother and father however by no means going house. Since he died in April, Flores’ brother has been working with American and Mexican authorities to have the physique transported to the city of Huehuepiaxtla within the state of Puebla.

Up to now, his efforts have been in useless. His brother’s embalmed stays are nonetheless in a U.S. funeral house.

“I’m attempting to do that as a result of my mother and father, 85 and 87 years previous, stay there,” Francisco Flores stated. “They’re rooted of their customs. They need a Christian burial for the stays of their son.”

The household’s scenario is widespread. Greater than a thousand Mexican immigrants have died of the virus within the U.S., in response to the Mexican authorities, and plenty of of their households are struggling to convey useless family members house.

Returning a physique to a different nation isn’t simple, however the coronavirus has added additional forms and prices, all at a time when many Mexicans have misplaced jobs in development, retail and eating places.

For grieving family members on either side of the border, the challenges are many: overwhelmed funeral properties, delays in paperwork as a result of authorities workplaces aren’t working at full capability and restricted flights.

The method has change into so troublesome that the Mexican Consulate in Los Angeles is encouraging cremation as an alternative of repatriation and burial, stated Felipe Carrera, a consular official.

“In a scenario like this, we’re encouraging our group to have an open thoughts,” Carrera stated, explaining that cremation permits a beloved one to return to Mexico in per week or 10 days. He declined to say how lengthy it takes to return our bodies. Members of the family who’ve opted for cremation say sending ashes house takes a number of weeks to months.

Cremation is a tough promote for a lot of Mexicans, who’re by far the most important immigrant group in America and deeply rooted in Catholicism. They’re fiercely happy with their homeland regardless of issues that pushed them to to migrate, they usually carry with them a relentless hope to return sooner or later, on the very least upon loss of life.

And since lots of them — notably those that are within the U.S. illegally — haven’t been house in a long time, returning in loss of life is that rather more necessary to their households.

For Mexican Catholics, having the physique of a deceased relative is crucial to giving them a “good loss of life,” stated Dr. Kristin Norget, an anthopology professor at McGill College in Montreal.

“Wakes are actually necessary occasions wherein the particular person is there, the casket is open, individuals go and bid that particular person farewell. They contact them. They kiss them,” Norget stated. “It is that tactile relationship with the physique, representing the particular person.”

For over a month, the household of Javier Morales, 48, and brother Martin Morales, 39, who each died in New Jersey through the first week of April, tried to ship the our bodies to Santa Catarina Yosonotú, a village within the Mexican state of Oaxaca. The brothers had each left the village as youngsters, and household needed to bury them there.

However after complying with U.S. and Mexican rules, relations stated they hit roadblocks with well being officers in Oaxaca. They ultimately gave up and had the brothers created. Now they’re working to have the ashes despatched again, a course of they estimate will take a number of weeks.

Between the prolonged keep in a funeral house and cremation, the household spent greater than $12,000.

“It is actually unhappy,” stated Rogelio Martin, a cousin who was near the brothers. “We needed to ship them house, but it surely wasn’t doable.”

Felix Pinzón’s household went by means of an identical course of. Pinzón needed to ship the physique of his half-brother, 45-year-old Basilio Juarez, a development employee, again to Cuautla, a metropolis within the state of Morelos. The consulate warned him that the trouble can be fraught, he stated.

Juarez’s spouse and two kids again in Mexico “needed to see the physique,” Pinzón stated. “They requested me to convey it again. At first, my niece didn’t perceive that it was not doable. She didn’t wish to settle for it.”

Regardless that he selected cremation, Pinzón will not be capable to ship the ashes again any time quickly. The cremation price $2,100, which he needed to placed on a bank card as a result of as a development employee he has been out of a job for greater than two months.

When Marta Ramos, 63, died in New York, daughter Juanita Ramos, who lives in Bakersfield, California, hoped to satisfy her mother’s final want, to be buried in Mexico. Since returning her mother’s physique can be troublesome, Ramos regarded into cremation, figuring she might at the least ship the stays house shortly and have them buried there.

However the funeral house advised her {that a} backlog of our bodies meant that her mother wouldn’t be cremated for a month. Feeling that was too lengthy to attend, and frightened that her mother’s physique could possibly be misplaced, Ramos determined to have her mom buried at a cemetery in New York. Her aunt, Agustina Ramos, 55, died simply forward of her mom and had already been buried there.

For the Flores household, the lengthy watch for Crescencio’s physique has been painful, stated Gerardo Flores, his oldest brother, who’s in Mexico. However relations really feel strongly about bringing him house.

“We imagine that within the second my brother is buried, whilst painful as will probably be, on this unhappy second, will probably be the final chapter. We are going to flip the web page. My mother and father will know the place their son is,” he stated.


Torrens reported from New York, Salomon from Miami and Prengaman from Phoenix.

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