SAN JOSE LAS FLORES, Guatemala — A 15-year-old Guatemalan boy whose death became a symbol of the perils facing children attempting to illegally cross in to the United States was buried in his hometown Saturday, amid prayers and tears from his family.
Gilberto Francisco Ramos Juarez’s decomposed body was discovered June 15 in the Rio Grande Valley, not far inside Texas from the border with Mexico.
Around his neck was a rosary he had received as a gift for his first communion as a Roman Catholic. Scribbled inside his belt buckle was the phone number of an older brother in Chicago he had hoped to reach.
On Saturday, neighbors in this mountain village filled the small home where Gilberto grew up, turning the room where he slept on the floor into a space to mourn over his gray and silver coffin.
A white bow hung on the front door in a sign of mourning. Inside the humble concrete home, women cried and prayed and men waited to carry Gilberto’s body to the hilltop cemetery overlooking the village. Amid highland flowers and candles sat a photograph of the boy.
“Ay, my son, now I won’t see you again,” his mother, Cipriana Juarez, shouted amid tears.