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Moving the remains of COVID-19 victims to Mexico a challenge | The race

Just over a month after arriving in California, Mexican Evangelina Álvarez Torres found death from the COVID-19 pandemic. Today her relatives are desperate because they cannot find a way to send her ashes to Guadalajara, Mexico.

“No one in the family can go to take them, nor can their children or their husband come for them due to lack of a tourist visa. Nor can they be sent by parcel. The only option is by mail, but it makes me very ugly to do that. It’s as if my aunt was nothing”Says Yesica Padilla, Evangelina’s niece, who has taken care of all the funeral procedures.

Added to the pain of losing a loved one to the coronavirus is the anxiety caused by the transfer of the remains to the countries of origin when the family so decides, and even more so when there are no financial resources.

The remains of many Mexicans who died from COVID-19 have been transferred by Aeroméxico. (EFE)

Evangelina died at age 52 in the northern California city of Stockton on August 10, three weeks after falling ill with COVID-19.

“She arrived from Guadalajara on June 29. He came to visit, but went to work on packaging. We do not know if it was infected there, but at home my father, my mother, my brother and my aunt got sick. She was the only one who did not survive”Remembers his niece.

“He started with a sore throat, then he got a fever, his stomach loosened and it got worse like everyone else in the house. She was never in the hospital ”.

After your aunt passed away, they received $ 600 in support from the Consulate of Mexico in Sacramento for the cost of the cremation, which came to $ 1,200.

“So far the funeral home has not given me the ashes. They said it would take two weeks, but they have already been fulfilled and they have not responded to us ”.

Meanwhile, Yesica comments that your aunt’s children and husband in Guadalajara are already very anxious to receive the ashes.

“This situation has generated a lot of stress for me because I have had to take care of everything, but I have to do it,” acknowledges the niece who describes her aunt as a very happy person with a smile on the surface. “That’s the saddest thing,” he says.

Entrance of the Consulate of Mexico in Los Angeles (Aurelia Ventura / La Opinion)
With few resources, the consulates of Mexico to assist with the expenses of the transfer of remains. (Aurelia Ventura / La Opinion)

The opinion The Consulate of Mexico in Sacramento was contacted, and the protection consul José Briceño promised to contact the family of Evangelina, the victim of the COVID-19 disease.

The Secretary of Foreign Relations (SRE) of Mexico reported that they repatriated 18 urns with ashes of Mexican people who died in the United States from COVID-19 on flights carried out on July 24 and August 13.

The polls were destined for Chiapas, Mexico City, the State of Mexico, Guanajuato, Guerrero, Jalisco, Morelos, Oaxaca, Puebla, Querétaro, San Luis Potosí and Veracruz.

In Los Angeles, the consul for protection, Felipe Carrera, said that in the face of the pandemic, ashes have been chosen for the transfer of people who die from COVID-19, and bodies are only transferred when they die from other diseases.

“Through a collaboration with Aeroméxico and at no charge to the Mexican government, ashes of Mexicans from Denver, Detroit, Indianapolis and Los Angeles were being sent on flights to Mexico City. Hence the states committed to transferring them to their respective capitals. The same was done from New York with Aeromexico, and there was an Army flight ”.

The agreement with Aeroméxico was signed at the beginning of the summer, but when this airline filed for Chapter 11 of the Bankruptcy Law, it reduced the frequency of flights from New York and Los Angeles.

“We are confident that they will operate again, and that the ashes can be shipped again.”

He explains that for a public health issue, it was decided to recommend cremation as it was the only way to kill any contagion.

“With a body there is always more risk when handling it. So the transfers of people who died from COVID-19 take place once they are cremated. “

He states that the process takes longer because both the Los Angeles County authorities and the Mexican Consulate have worked with shorter hours.

“Before the pandemic, the preparations for the transfer of bodies to Mexico, which include obtaining the death certificate and the permit, ranged from 10 to 15 days, now it can take four to six weeks to complete the entire process.”

The families want to give a Christian burial to the remains of their loved ones in Mexico. (EFE)

The consul estimates that since this health crisis began, the ashes of between 20 and 30 bodies of people who died due to the coronavirus have been transferred.

“They are generally people who did not have relatives in the United States to claim their ashes.”

Either way. note that cremated remains can be safely transported on any commercial airline flight, and people can carry them in their luggage.

“All they require is a visa issued by the consulates that is obtained in a couple of days.”

It shows that the help of Mexican consulates for the cost of funerals and cremation is quite limited because they only have a small budget line.

Support is with a portion of the cost of cremation. But we try to ensure that funeral homes offer accessible packages for the community, especially since the impact of COVID-19 that has caused many businesses to close.“.

The diplomat says that the recommendation to people who want to send the ashes of their loved ones to Mexico is to wait for the pandemic to pass and keep the ballot boxes in their homes.