By Gustavo Palencia
TEGUCIGALPA (Reuters) – Lorena Garcia, a young woman from a rural village in western Honduras, has accepted that her 2-year-old son has lost his chance at the American dream. Now, she just wants him home.
The boy, Wilder, gained international media attention when he was found alone on a roadside earlier in the week in Mexico’s Veracruz state, half naked and crying, near a truck that carried migrants in suffocating conditions.
The boy had been with his father, Garcia’s husband Noel Ladino, in a bid to migrate to the United States. But that went awry under circumstances that have so far not been detailed.
In an interview with Reuters, Garcia, 23, said she was desperate to be reunited with the toddler, who is in the care of Mexican authorities.
“I want them to return him to me,” Garcia told Reuters by phone on Friday. She said her husband and son went “looking for the American dream. But it was not possible,” she said.
Garcia said Ladino and Wilder left their home in Copan, Honduras, near the Guatemala border, with a human smuggler, or coyote, bound for the United States.
The two reached southeastern Mexico, where father and son became separated.
After Mexican immigration authorities circulated photos, Garcia identified herself to Honduran officials as Wilder’s mother using a document that matched the vaccine records the boy carried. She said her husband was being held in Mexico. She spoke to him by phone on Thursday night but did not glean any information about Wilder.
The National Migration Institute of Mexico has not yet established a date to transfer Wilder back to Honduras, though Garcia said she was told he would return in 15 days.
“I just hope he comes back,” she said.
The family, which also includes a 6-year-old daughter, lives on 100 lempiras ($4.16) a day when Ladino can find work, Garcia said.
“There is no work here to support oneself. He left because we have another girl, and here there is a lot of poverty,” Garcia said.
Ladino and Wilder hoped to reach Virginia where they have relatives and ultimately be joined by the mother and daughter.
Ladino agreed to pay the coyote some 200,000 lempiras ($8,333 dollars) for the journey with wages he would earn in the United States and help from their relatives. Wilder went with Ladino because the couple believed traveling with a small child would improve his chances of being admitted to the United States.
Hundreds of thousands of Hondurans, including families with children, have set off for the United States in recent years to escape poverty, violence and corruption. Many are turned back by Mexico or the United States.
(Reporting by Gustavo Palencia; Writing by Cassandra Garrison and Stefanie Eschenbacher; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)