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7-year-old Guatemalan girl who died in US custody is laid to rest | US-Mexico border News





San Antonio Secortez, Guatemala – Jakelin Caal was excited to go to the United States.

The seven-year-old indigenous Q’eqchi’ girl told everyone in her small remote village in San San Antonio Secortez about the new life she and her father, Nery, were going to have.

“She was excited to travel,” Matin Tut, Jakelin’s 52-year-old neighbour recalled.

“She mentioned it every chance she could,” he told Al Jazeera.

Jakelin and Nery made it to the US on December 6, crossing the border into New Mexico with a group of more than 150 others. They were detained by Customs and Border Protection agents, taken into custody, and on December 8, Jakelin was pronounced dead.

More than two weeks later – on Christmas day – Jakelin was buried.

“We barely slept last night,” Domingo Caal, Jakelin’s grandfather said, as he walked down a muddy trail to the simple grave of cement blocks he and other men from the community constructed in a small cemetery.

Jakelin’s mother Claudia said her daughter dreamed of going to the United States [Jeff Abbott/Al Jazeera]

On Monday, a wake was held, with neighbours and others from nearby communities visiting the family.

“This should be a very special day for them,” said Ilvera Cuz, Jakelin’s grandmother. “The should be preparing tamales to celebrate Christmas. But they left everything and are here supporting us to share in this pain.”

Another child dies

CBP initially said Jakelin died of dehydration and shock, a claim the family refutes. The official cause of death is pending as the autopsy results are being finalised. 

The administration of US President Donald Trump, who has implemented a “zero tolerance” policy at the border, has been under increased pressured from rights groups over the way migrants and refugees are treated both at the border and once in custody.

The United Nations special rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, Felipe Gonzalez, called on US authorities to investigate the case.

“The government should also address failings within the immigration system, and specifically within the US Customs and Border Patrol agency, to prevent similar situations,” Gonzalez said in a statement earlier this week. 

But on Wednesday, CBP reported the death of an eight-year-old Guatemalan child that was in its custody. According to a CBP statement, the boy was treated in the hospital for was initially thought of as a common cold. He was later released. He was transferred back to a medical facility after exhibiting nausea and vomiting. He died shortly after midnight on December 25. The cause of death is not known.

In search of better opportunities

Jakelin and her father were driven to flee to the United States due to the extreme poverty, rampant inequalities and lack of opportunity in rural Guatemala. 

Nery had briefly worked on a palm oil plantation, but according to his brother, Carlos Caal, was fired after six months for demanding better pay. The brothers earned 65 quetzales a day (about $9), yet nearly half went to transportation and food each day.

Like many others, they went to the US, looking for better opportunities for themselves and their familiy.

According to data from the US Customs and Border Protection agency, more than 72,000 Guatemalans, primarily children or family units, were captured trying to enter the US southern border between October 2017 to September 2018. Nearly 30,000 others were captured at the beginning of fiscal year 2019, which began in October.

At least 30 people have migrated to the United States from San Antonio Secortez in the last three months, residents said.

“We have heard that there are better opportunities in other countries,” Tut explained.

“There were two members of the community that had already left,” he said. “And once we began to hear of people making it, we began to make the decision to go.”

Tut has thought about going, but Jakelin’s death has caused him to reconsider.

“Her death pains me and I do not have the will to go right now,” Tut said. “But who knows what will happen in the future, if the will to go will return.”

Back at Jakelin’s burial site, the community said a small Q’eqchi’ prayer.

Not much more was said before Jakelin’s body was slowly lowered into the simple plot on a hill that overlooks the fields.


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Driver in satisfactory condition following head-on Gatineau collision





One person was in hospital in satisfactory condition following a head-on collision between two vehicles in Gatineau on Saturday.

According to Gatineau police, the crash occurred around 1:30 p.m. on Montée Paiement, between Saint-Thomas and Saint-Columban roads.

Each of the vehicles had only one occupant at the time of the incident.

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Ottawa military family alleges bad faith eviction by Saudi Arabia’s top diplomat in Canada





An Ottawa military family alleges their former landlord — Saudi Arabia’s top diplomat in Canada — acted in bad faith when he gave them a notice of eviction, claiming he intended to move into their Vanier rental home with his own family.

The home is now listed for sale for $950,000, two months after Vivian and Tim Funk moved out with their two young children.

In documents filed with the Landlord and Tenant Board, the Funks detailed how their landlord, Sulaiman AlAqeel, acted to end their tenancy by allegedly pretending he was moving in himself. This was preceded by an attempt to market the house to new tenants for significantly more money when the Funks had not given notice indicating they would be leaving, the documents alleged. “The landlord’s representative,” according to the documents, allegedly told the Funks they needed to accept a $500 monthly rent increase and a new lease if they wanted to continue living in the rental property, which wouldn’t be legal under the Residential Tenancies Act.

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Ottawa COVID-19 hospitalization data showing half of cases coming from community, not just long-term care





With local data showing 50 per cent of COVID-19 hospitalizations coming from the community, long-term care residents aren’t the only one vulnerable to severe illness from the virus, Ottawa’s Board of Health reports.

Despite the majority of deaths having happened in older adult age groups in long-term care homes, residents shouldn’t think institutions are the only settings that are vulnerable to outbreaks that lead to serious illness from the virus.

“[Ottawa Public Health] continues to expand our understanding of the types of settings and situations that have the most impact on COVID-19 transmission in our community and is seeking academic partners to better explore exposure risks as well as a broader assessment of the harms from different public health measures,” OPH outlined in its document, to be present at the Board of Health on Monday.

At the same time, however, OPH says it is working closely with partners on “processes to strengthen and streamline responses.” This includes weekly meetings across agencies to address issues and concerns to ensure a strong collaboration, ongoing communications with facilities, preventative visits and phone calls to review infection prevention and control.

In situations where OPH identified failings at an LTCH or concerns of compliance have been raised, OPH has been quick to issue letters of expectation that outline the deficiencies and timelines fo compliance.

It is unclear how many letters have been issued through both waves of the virus.

And while outbreaks in LTCH during wave two have recorded a higher number of LTCH outbreaks than in wave one, the overall morbidity and mortality has been lower. This means fewer cases, fewer deaths and a lower average duration of outbreaks.

OPH contributed this to building on lessons learned from early COVID-19 outbreaks in LTCH in Ottawa.

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