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Banished from his community in Chenalhó since May 2016, when his father was killed, he began a life of forced displacement. Aurelio Cruz López, a young Tsotzil Indigenous man, migrated north. He disappeared this week in the Arizona desert, in his quest to live the American dream.

On May 16, 2016, 14 families were displaced from the Puebla ejido, in the municipality of Chenalhó in Los Altos de Chiapas. Aurelio Cruz López saw his father Guadalupe Cruz Hernández die, murdered. The family was then condemned them to live in forced displacement for six years.

Aurelio was at the time a 13-year-old boy, and during these six years he went from shelter to shelter, from house to house, a refugee, far from his land, from the Ejido Puebla, where he was born and lived his childhood.

Orphaned when he saw his father assassinated, Aurelio Cruz López saw an uncertain future when he realized that the Chiapas authorities offered no support.

This story originally appeared at Chiapas Paralello. Republished in english by Native News Online with permission.

Julio César Pérez, a lawyer for the displaced people of Ejido Puebla, says that given the impossibility of a dignified and safe return, has asked the state government since June 2021 for a relocation to another region of the state of Chiapas.

But the state government proposal excluded young men without wives or children like Aurelio, so disappointed on April 28, he decided to migrate to the United States with two of his displaced companions, Maximiliano Gutiérrez Cruz and Onesimo Arias Cruz. Also, both 17 years old.

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Cruz López 2A recent image of Aurelio (Photo/Chiapas Paralello)

They left the camp for displaced people towards Sonora, where in Altar, they found a smuggler who would take them through the Arizona desert.

The smuggler separated Aurelio from his two Indigenous Tzotzile friends from Chiapas and put him with another group of migrants through the desert.

“At 3:30 a.m. on Wednesday, May 4, 2022, we received a call from our colleague Aurelio Cruz López who was fleeing migration and was lost and did not know where his other colleagues were,” says Perez.

And around eight o'clock on Thursday morning, he sent a voice recording to Onesimo and Maximiliano telling them that he had met up with one of his migrant companions, but that they had run out of supplies (water and food). Even so, they would continue walking in the desert until they reached their destination. 

Around 4:30 p.m. on Thursday, May 5, they received a call from a male person informing them that Aurelio Cruz López “could not stand the walk and passed out in the desert two kilometers from reaching a highway.”

The companions with whom he was crossing the Arizona desert took a photograph of Aurelio passed out and sent it to his two companions who had arranged to pass in a different group.

“To date, our brother is missing, we still don't know anything about him. We know that the two young people are unofficially in the North American migration facilities,” says Perez, the Indigenous defense attorney for the displaced.

Perez points out that they have requested support or help from the state government, but have not yet received any response and that "the lack of will, the conditions imposed by the government, the policy of attrition implemented by them on our relocation issue, has forced our young peers to make life-threatening decisions.”

He called on the federal government to help them locate Aurelio Cruz López through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

In the same way, he asked for the support of solidarity rescuers and US migration groups so that they provide timely support to the two detainees and that Aurelio Cruz López be located to find out if he is alive or not, after the fainting he suffered in the Arizona desert.