Fifty-three migrants died after being abandoned in a truck on the side of a highway in a quiet area of San Antonio, in the US state of Texas, last Monday (27).
Inside the vehicle were 66 illegal immigrants who were trying to enter the United States. When firefighters arrived at the scene, 46 people were already dead. Eight others were rescued but died in hospital.
The Doctor. Paulo Camiz, a general practitioner and professor at USP and Hospital das Clínicas de São Paulo, explains that the people in the truck died from a combination of dehydration and hyperthermia, in addition to a possible lack of oxygen.
“When the truck is moving, the airflow is greater, but when it is stationary, the way it was left in place, eventually the air doesn’t circulate as much and people may also have suffered from low oxygenation.”
Weather conditions were another impediment on the journey. In the case of the migrants found in San Antonio, the high temperatures were decisive for most of them not to survive.
The situation is even more serious for children, because, although they have a greater amount of body water, they sweat more, are easily dehydrated and are very sensitive to low levels of oxygen. For seniors, it is no different. An elderly person will be much more sensitive to changing temperatures than a young adult.
The doctor explains that the small part of the migrants who survived may have been saved not only by their individual characteristics, but by several variables.
“Where they were in the truck, in a region that was more airy, that eventually the temperature was a little lower at peak times or higher at times when it would be colder. If they carried water, if they had any groceries.”
the american dream
The American dream is the great objective of those who expose themselves to the risk of crossing. Even successful cases are surrounded by sad and dangerous stories. Most of the time, people cross the border on foot through the desert guided by coyotes, as the middlemen who charge to drive illegal immigrants to the US are called.
“It’s a dangerous crossing, when you’re dealing with illegal people and you pay in advance, these people have almost no commitments. There are cases of these coyotes where they end up catching people, taking them up to a certain moment and killing them, because they already have the money. and there is less risk of them ending up being arrested if they already disappear with the money”, says Leonardo Paz Neves, a member of the International Prospecting and Intelligence Nucleus at FGV (Fundação Getulio Vargas)
People from Latin America flee the situation of vulnerability in their countries and try to enter American territory. In the recent case registered in Texas, the majority were from Mexico, but there were also those who left Guatemala and Honduras.
The FGV professor explains that the fact that the USA is the largest economy in the world attracts both legal and illegal immigrants. For many, settling abroad can be a guarantee of a better life for those left behind.
“One of the revenue increments [de famílias na América Central] it is precisely the money that people in the United States, who start working there, send back so that they can support themselves”, says Leonardo.
* Intern at R7under the supervision of Pablo Marques