Guatemalan slain at border remembered at vigil

SAN JUAN — Chants of quieremos justicia (we want justice) and no estan solos (you are not alone) reverberated during a Thursday evening vigil for a 20-year-old Guatemalan woman who was slain during an encounter May 23 with a Border Patrol agent in Rio Bravo, near Laredo.

The two-hour vigil with over 40 people in attendance was held at the entrance of the Basilica of Our Lady of San Juan del Valle National Shrine and spoke to the untimely death of Claudia Patricia Gomez Gonzalez and the plight of immigrants fleeing violence in Central America.

To the right side of the basilica’s entrance stood an altar with a photo of Gomez posing with red and gold marigolds. The portrait was surrounded by candles and a rosary.

While the vigil was primarily focused on the plight of Gomez, those in attendance also were focused on related issues such as the border wall and separation of families.

One vigil attendee was Emilia Alvarez, an educator and child advocate and immigrant herself, who said there was no reason for the killing and mistreatment of immigrants crossing the border trying to make a better life in the United States.

“As an undocumented child, I know the feeling of not being a citizen. And as a female living on the border, I had always felt the fear of getting stopped and being asked if I was from here,” Alvarez said. “I came to support, because as an educator, I know that family separation has had an effect on me and I know how this has affected our children.”

Alvarez said she is concerned about the mental trauma that immigrant children are coping with.

Attendees expressed their viewpoints by holding up signs such as “No wall through our homeland,” “No human being is illegal” and “No wall, welcome refugees.”

Krissi Trumeter, who lives in Austin and is part of the Texas Civil Rights Project, said she heard about the separation of families through a leadership meeting and decided to take part in the “breaking bread, not families” movement.

“This (situation) started really affecting me; I had a hard time eating and hard time sleeping,” Trumeter said. “I have two children and I have a hard time finding any peace. I was closely emotionally driven by these children and what the effects might have been and trying to find ways to help them.”

Trumeter believes in solidarity and is completing her week without eating in support of the children.   

As the evening wrapped, a representative from La Union Del Pueblo Entero (LUPE) used her phone to connect via FaceTime with Gomez’s parents.

Gomez’s parents thanked everyone that attended the vigil and to urged them to continue fighting for justice.    

[email protected]