The bodies of the father and daughter who drowned together last week while trying to cross the Rio Grande to the U.S. returned to El Salvador on Sunday for burial. Photographs of Valeria, face down with her little arm wrapped around the neck of her father, Oscar Alberto Martnez, broke hearts around the world and underscored the dangers that migrants undertake in trying to reach the U.S.
The father and daughter were swept away by the current in the river between Matamoros, Mexico, and Brownsville, Texas.
Their remains entered the Central American country by land and were expected to be buried in a private ceremony in the capital Monday.
El Salvador’s Minister of Government and Development Mario Duran met the bodies on their arrival.
Martnez, 25, and his wife, Tania Vanessa valos, 21, had been living with his mother and apparently felt that their salaries working at a pizza parlor and as a restaurant cashier would never be enough to purchase a modest home in their suburb of San Salvador.
That dream to save money for a home led the family to set out for the United States, according to Martnez’s mother, Rosa Ramrez.
Ramrez told CNN affiliate Canal 33 that she had tried to convince the young family not to make the journey north, but “the idea of leaving had gotten into their heads.”
They wanted to have their own home, Ramrez said. “That was what motivated them.”
The neighborhood they left behind in El Salvador is a humble bedroom community where most people live in low-rise, two-bedroom homes with a combination kitchen-living room-dining room, worth about $10,000-$15,000 each.
Residents say violence and extortion has eased in the neighborhood, but that poverty and ambition still drive many to migrate.