At least 15 Nicaraguan families are searching for family members who disappeared while traveling illegally to the United States, according to a list from the U.S.-based nonprofit, Texas Nicaragua Community (TNC).
The majority of the disappearances occurred in 2022, but the list includes four families who lost track of their relatives in 2018. "The mourning doesn't end until we find them. We will continue searching," says the organization, which supports families in the search and repatriation processes.
The border between Mexico and the United States is the most dangerous land migration route in the world, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in its 2022 annual report. That year alone there were 1,457 documented deaths and disappearances of migrants in the Americas. Of these, 686 occurred on this route. Among them are 57 Nicaraguans, although there are no details as to how many are deaths and how many are disappearances.
Search processes in Mexico
In Mexico, the Mexican National Search Commission (CNB) is the institution that helps migrant families trace their missing persons. Cases can be filed free of charge through its web page, after which a "Search Reference" number will be created that will be used for follow up.
The information that the families must provide includes personal data: name, age, date of birth, nationality, gender, etc. Also a description of the missing person: height, skin color, type and color of hair, particular characteristics, among others.
In addition, there are questions about when last contact was made, where and under what circumstances, information on social media accounts, and other relevant information for the search.
Texas Nicaragua Community warns the families of missing persons not to fall into the network of scam artists that emerges when a case is known. They report cases of criminals who communicate through WhatsApp to ask for supposed ransoms. The same happens with Nicaraguan who in fact arrived in the U.S. but the family has lost track of them. At least two of the 15 families of the disappeared have fallen for scams.
CONFIDENCIAL presents this list to share who the missing Nicaraguan migrants are, and the circumstances in which their families lost track of them.
Twelve missing migrants since 2022
Nombre: Eddy Antonio Barrera Luna
Age: 33 years old
Missing since: February 1, 2022
In Nicaragua, Eddy worked in the Diriamba and Jinotega fire departments. He is married and has a daughter who just turned three years old. As described by his family, he decided to leave for the United States in early 2022. The last time the family had contact with him, he said he was in Piedras Negras, Coahuila, near the U.S. border.
Name: Yasser Esaú Zamora Dublón
From: Siuna, Northern Caribbean
Missing since: February 12, 2022
Yasser left Nicaragua on February 1, 2022 in search of a better job that would allow him to improve his quality of life. The last time his family heard from him was when he told them he was in Tijuana, a city on the border with San Diego, California. Zamora planned to cross the border fence between the two cities.
Name: Maynor Down Bravo
From: Río Blanco, Matagalpa
Age: 37 years old
Missing since: February 27, 2022
The last message Maynor sent to his family was to let them know that he was going to cross the Rio Bravo, the border between Mexico and the U.S., and that he would later turn himself in to the U.S. Immigration Service along with other migrants. The family members learned from third parties that at about 4:00 a.m. they were able to cross, but that Maynor could not continue because he had trouble walking. The family was told a rumor that he was hospitalized, but they could not confirm it.
Name: Erwing Omar Rodríguez López
From: Nueva Guinea, South Caribbean
Age: 21 years old
Missing since: March 9, 2022
Before he disappeared, Erwing warned his family that he was about to cross the waters of the Rio Bravo. The Search Commission of the State of Coahuila de Zaragoza is trying to locate him, but more than 17 months after his disappearance they have been unsuccessful. Erwing had left Nicaragua in January 2022.
Name: Sofia Abigail Caballero Huete
Origin: Nueva Segovia
Age: 3 years old
Missing since: May 17, 2022
Three year-old Sofia Abigail disappeared in the waters of the Rio Grande while trying to cross with her mother, Irma Huete, 25, who drowned, and her uncle Nolvin Huete, who managed to cross into the U.S. The child is now five years old and search campaigns have been created for her, but there has been no information on her whereabouts.
Name: Norvin Miriel Lagos Carrasco
Origin: Murra, Nueva Segovia
Age: 22 years old
Missing since: June 1, 2022
Norvin left his hometown of Murra on April 25, 2022. He left to be able to provide a better quality of life for his wife and two-year-old son, but so far it is not known what happened to him. The last message they received from him was sent at 11:30 a.m. on May 8. An acquaintance who also migrated told the family that on the way, Norvin had suffered a mental breakdown and had been abandoned in Juchitan, Oaxaca, in Mexico. His family members have been victims of scams by criminal gangs claiming to have kidnapped him.
Name: Tomás Eduardo Valle Pérez
From: 22 years old
Missing since: July 16, 2022
Tomás left Nicaragua with a group of migrants who joined the massive wave of 2022. The last time his family knew anything about him was two months after he had left, when they were told he had been swept away by the current in the waters of the Rio Bravo. Although authorities initiated a search, they have not located him. "Son, we are still looking for you," his mother wrote on Facebook 15 months after his disappearance.
Name: Erasmo Galeano Vanegas
From: Wiwilí, Jinotega
Age: 33 years old
Missing since: July 28, 2022
Erasmo was abandoned by the coyote who promised to take him to the United States. According to what his family in Nicaragua was told, when they were about to cross the river in a boat, Erasmo allegedly became unwell and asked to be left behind because he no longer wanted to cross. His sister, Ashley Galeano, told Radio Stereo ABC that his plan was to work in the U.S. for three years and then return to be with his wife and two daughters. The Search Unit for Missing and Missing Persons and the Oaxaca State Prosecutor's Office prepared a file on his disappearance, detailing that the migrant went missing in San Francisco Ixhuatán, Oaxaca, Mexico.
Name: Donald Rafael Monjarrez Tinoco
Age: 45 years old
Missing since: November 2, 2022
Donald is one of the Nicaraguans being searched for by the Prosecutor's Office for the Forced Disappearance of Persons and Disappearances Committed by Private Individuals in Chiapas, Mexico. His last communication with a family member was on November 2, 2002, at about eleven o'clock in the morning. He told this relative that he was in Puerto Madero, located in Tapachula, Chiapas.
Name: Hiparco Alejandro Gúzman
Age: 33 years old
Missing since: July 21, 2022
The last thing known about Hiparco was that he had been swept away by the currents of the Rio Bravo in Acuña, Coahuila. The Beta Group for Protection of Migrants conducted two searches in the river but were unsuccessful. Any information about Hiparco can be reported to the Search Commission of the State of Coahuila.
Other migrants who disappeared in 2022 are Carlos Alberto Morales Lopez and Bayron Albeny Vallecillo Zavala. However, no further details are known about them.
Missing between 2018 and 2020
Name: Donald Elías Gutiérrez Casco
Age: 33 years old
Missing since: July 23, 2018
Donald's mother, Vilma Emelina Casco, has been looking for her son for five years. The day he left she explained to him: "Mother, I have to go, I need to work, to support my children." The last time she heard from Donald, he told her he was in Irapuato, Guanajuato, and planned to cross into the U.S. through Tamaulipas. In 2019 his mother joined a migrant caravan to go looking for him, but had no luck, she told Stereo ABC Radio.
Name: Axel Domingo Talavera Múñoz
Age: 25 years old
Missing since: July 25, 2018
Axel migrated to the United States and was last heard from by his family when he was about to cross into the U.S. They believe he disappeared in the Falfurrias area of Texas. The family has been scammed by the coyote and other individuals who assure them that they saw him, but no further details were ever given. Axel left two children orphaned.
Name: Diana Raquel Flores
Age: 27 years old
Missing since: May 19, 2020
According to the Prosecutor's Office for the Forced Disappearance of Persons and Disappearances Committed by Private Individuals, Diana's mother was the last person with whom she had communication. They spoke at 9:00 a.m. on the morning of May 19, 2020 and she was never heard from again. Flores was in Tapachula, Chiapas.
Another missing migrant who was on TNC's list is Marcelino Antonio Paniagua Muñoz, who had disappeared in December 2021. However, last September 14, his body was found in a mass grave in Mexico.
This article was originally published in Spanish in Confidencial and translated by our staff.