Survivors demand justice after Matamoros girls drown in Rio Grande

The families of two girls from Matamoros who drowned in the Rio Grande held a protest in the Mexican border city last month after authorities across the river in Brownsville, TX, ruled the death of a third girl in the incident, Yadira Jazmine Hernández, 13, an accident. At the foot of the international bridge linking the two cities June 12, the parents of victims Nayeli MartĂ­nez and Marlene PĂ©rez GarcĂ­a, both 14, held placards calling for the Mexican consul in Brownsville to intervene in the case. Guadalupe MartĂ­nez Reyes, mother of Nayeli, demanded a timely autopsy on the two remaining victims, who were found on the Mexican side, and that Matamoros authorities take a clear stance in the case. “They close and open the case every minute, and we really don’t know what’s going on,” she said.

Luz MarĂ­a González Armenta of the Matamoros-based Civil Association for Defense and Promotion of Human Rights-Emiliano Zapata (DEPRODHEZAC) said: “We only want to know the real facts. They weren’t three animals that died, they were three girls who were found with marks from blows… The Mexican authorities cannot just say ‘They simply drowned,’ and close the case.” González added: “There are many inconsistencies in the declarations of our authorities on the case. We want to know all the information, and under no circumstances will we permit them to lie to us.”

A preliminary report by Dr. Norma Jean Farley of Brownsville found signs of strangulation and possible sexual abuse after Yadira’s body was discovered May 27, and determined homicide likely. (El Nuevo Heraldo, Brownsville, June 12)

However, in the final report, Brownsville authorities say the marks were caused by the two others girls, who they say Yadira was trying to save from drowning. “Two of them were trying to hang onto her…. [I]n the process two of them drowned and in the meantime they caused the death of Yadira Jazmine Hernández by trying to save themselves by bending or choking her,” Brownsville Police Chief Carlos Garcia told a press conference.

Yadira’s body was found near the B&M Bridge by US Border Patrol agents, and turned over to Brownsville authorities for the autopsy. The bodies of Nayeli and Marlene were found a couple of days later near the Matamoros shore. Local media report a witnesses told police the three girls were playing in the river when Marlene and Nally had problems getting out of the water. (Brownsville Herald, June 13)

See our last posts on Mexico’s human rights crisis and the struggle for the border.