I told him not to go, says mum of drowned Salvadoran
Asylum seeker drowns with two-year-old daughter trying to swim across border
SAN SALVADOR : The mother of a Salvadoran man who drowned with his toddler while trying to reach the United States said she had urged her son not to leave, fearing danger would meet him on the long journey north.
A harrowing photograph of Mr Oscar Alberto Martinez, 25, and his two-year-old daughter, Angie Valeria, lying face down on the muddy banks of the Rio Grande river between the US and Mexico ricocheted across social media this week.
Speaking to Reuters from her home in the central municipality of San Martin, Mrs Rosa Ramirez cradled two of her granddaughter's most treasured toys, a baby doll and a stuffed purple monkey.
Her friends have urged her to store her son's and granddaughter's belongings, but she is not ready for that yet.
"Ever since he first told me that they wanted to go, I told him not to," Mrs Ramirez said.
"I had a feeling, it was such an ugly premonition. As a mother, I sensed that something could happen."
Despite his mother's pleas, Mr Martinez and his family left El Salvador in April, hoping to find work in the US and eventually buy a house, the mother said.
"That was his dream - a good future for his family."
Exasperated by the wait to apply for asylum, Mr Martinez and Angie Valeria attempted to swim to US soil on Sunday, an immigration official in the Mexican state of Tamaulipas said.
Ms Tania Vanessa Avalos, Mr Martinez's wife, survived, with vidoes showing her screaming, "Where is my husband?", as rescue workers at the river bank carried away a stretcher covered with a white sheet.
The photograph of Mr Martinez and Angie Valeria, nestled beside her father with her arm draped around his neck, drew comparisons with an iconic 2015 shot of Aylan Kurdi, a three-year-old Syrian refugee, whose body washed up on the shores of the Mediterranean.
"It is astonishing to see this photo," Mrs Ramirez said, reflecting on the image of her son and granddaughter.
"He never let her go. You can see how he protected her."
The United Nations refugee agency said the photo from the US border represents "a failure to address the violence and desperation pushing people to take journeys of danger".
Pope Francis expressed great sorrow upon viewing the image, said the Vatican, whose newspaper published the photograph on its front page.
Salvadoran Foreign Minister Alexandra Hill called on the country's citizens not to risk irregular migration to the US.
US presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders called the image "horrific" and said US President Donald Trump's migration clampdown made deaths more likely.
"Trump's policy of making it harder and harder to seek asylum - and separating families who do - is cruel, inhumane and leads to tragedies like this," he wrote on Twitter.
In turn, Mr Trump blamed the Democrats, whom he said were blocking his government's attempts at closing "loopholes" in US law that encourage migrants to apply for asylum.
US Border Patrol reported 283 migrant fatalities at the border last year. In addition, migrants can suffer violence while moving through Mexico.- REUTERS
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