The wrenching photograph of Oscar Alberto Martinez Ramirez and his daughter Angie Valeria, 23-months-old, whose dead bodies were found on the banks of the Rio Grande locked in an embrace, is seared into the memories of many now.
And, not unlike an image of a 3-year-old Syrian refugee drowned and whose small body washed up on a Mediterranean shore in 2015, is seen as a symbol of desperate migrants and refugees fleeing war and unrest.
The bodies of the father and his toddler daughter are seen face down in muddy riverbank surrounded by reeds, with the child tucked inside her father’s shirt, her arm draped over him.
Martinez Ramirez, his wife and baby had been on the road from El Salvador since April when he tried to get them safely across the Rio Grande.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. The Body of Toddler Angie Valeria is Seen Fastened to her Father in the Image of the Two, Dead & Washed Ashore on the Muddy Banks of the Rio Grande
On June 24, Salvadoran migrant Oscar Martinez Ramirez and his daughter Angie Valeria drowned while trying to cross the Rio Grande on their way to the United States in Matamoros, Tamaulipas.
Martinez Ramirez fled El Salvador with his 21-year-old wife Tania Vanessa Avalos and their daughter. According to local reports, the couple attempted to make the potentially treacherous crossing from Mexico to the U.S. on Sunday afternoon June 23. It’s reported that the young father made his way across the river with his daughter, set her safety on a bank and then returned to the river to get his wife. But his daughter followed. As is seen in the images, he had her body tucked inside his shirt and set off once again for the river to get his wife, but reports say they were swept away by strong currents, and drowned.
The father and daughter washed ashore on the Mexican side of the border across from Brownsville, Texas. They were found on Monday near an international bridge.
It’s reported that Avalos witnessed the violent deaths of her husband and child.
2. Ramirez & His Family Set Off For the U.S. in April ‘Hoping to Find Work’ & One Day Buy a Home
According to reports from Reuters and others, Ramirez and his wife and daughter began the journey north in April. His “dream,” it was reported, was to find work and one day buy a home.
A reporter for La Jornada, Julia Le Duc, told international media including CNN and The Guardian, that the family arrived in Matamoros on Sunday with a plan to seek asylum from US authorities “but that Mr. Martinez Ramirez decided to swim across when he found out it could take weeks before they could even start the process.”
“He crossed first with the little girl and he left her on the American side. Then he turned back to get his wife, but the girl went into the water after him. When he went to save her, the current took them both.”
3. Ramirez’ Grieving Mother Told Reuters That She Worried About the Young Family’s Journey to the US & Said She ‘Sensed That Something Could Happen’
Reuters spoke to his mother in San Martin.
Rosa Ramirez told Reuters she did not want them to go: “Ever since he first told me that they wanted to go, I told him not to. I had a feeling, it was such an ugly premonition. As a mother, I sensed that something could happen.”
But she said her son “never let go” of his baby.
4. The Image of the Drowned Refugee Father & Daughter Recalls a Similar Horror From 2015
The body of Aylan Kurdi, 3, a Syrian refugee, washed up on the Mediterranean shore of Bodrum, in southern Turkey in September of 2015.
A boat carrying refugees sank while reaching the Greek island of Kos.
5. Pope Francis ‘Profoundly Saddened,’ is Praying for ‘All Migrants Who Have Lost Their Lives While Seeking to Flee War & Misery’
In a report from Aleteia, Alessandro Gisotti, the ad interim Director of the Holy See Press Office, told journalists “the Holy Father has seen the images of the father and his baby daughter who drowned in the Rio Grande River while trying to cross the border between Mexico and the United States.”
“The pope is profoundly saddened by their death, and is praying for them and for all migrants who have lost their lives while seeking to flee war and misery,” Gisotti said.