A few nights ago, Ana crossed illegally into the United States from Guatemala. Her husband paid a coyote $4,000 to smuggle Ana and their son through the lowland jungles of southern Mexico, up the San Pedro river to the Texas border.
“A gang was after us,” Ana says in a daze, digging her knuckles into her cheeks to stay awake. She and her child were just released from a 48-hour stay at a detention center where it was too cold to sleep.
“[The gang] wanted us to give them money from our shop. They hurt other people we know if they did not pay. They said they would hurt us. And,” Ana sighs, “we believed him.” Other family members and neighbors vouched for the coyote. If they paid him in dollars, he would not rob and abandon them. He would not hand her over to the Zetas, one of Mexico’s most violent gangs.
The coyote shepherded Ana, her son, and nine other migrants from Guatemala along a 2,000 mile van route through Mexico, hiding them in cramped stash houses along the way. Ana felt secure with the coyote until the last leg of their trip, when they boarded his motorboat. Three hours in, the boat broke down on a remote bend of the San Pedro river. When the coyote announced he would be setting off on foot to get help, Ana began to panic. “That’s when I was sure we were going to die,” she recalls. “I thought my baby would die first, and then I would kill myself.”
Continued at From The Intercept…