Nicaraguan migrant Meylin Obregon Leiva reappeared on Wednesday, April 14th. Her brother affirmed on April 8th that she was in the hands of kidnappers, who were holding her for ransom in Mexico.
Meylin is the mother of the ten-year-old boy abandoned by coyotes in a desolate border region of the US, near the Rio Bravo in Texas. He had crossed the border illegally. The boy’s case went viral when a border patrol agent posted a video of the boy pleading for help. “I was with a group coming to turn themselves in, and they left me behind. I came here to ask for help,” the little boy exclaims tearfully in the video clip.
Misael Obregon, the boy’s uncle and Meylin Obregon’s brother, lives in Miami. He told the media that the boy and his mother had been kidnapped in Mexico, after an unsuccessful attempt to enter the US. According to Misael, the kidnappers asked for money, but he only had enough to pay for the child’s freedom.
On April 14, Meylin spoke with the Spanish news network Univision. “This issue of kidnapping – what happened?” the journalist asked.
“Well, I don’t want to talk about that right now. It may take me some time to be able to talk about it,” she responded.
Meylin said that they freed her son first, and that, later, the kidnappers who were supposedly kidnapped freed her near the border. “Maybe it was because of the news coverage. I don’t know. I can’t explain it. They just told me to get ready, that it wasn’t a good thing to have me there. They told me that they were going to take me to another place to let me go, to a place that was empty, abandoned,” she explained. “They freed me in a place I wasn’t familiar with. I didn’t know where to go. So, I asked for help. They’ve already sent me to a safer house,” she added.
According to the report, Meylin spoke by phone with the journalist before turning herself in to the border authorities. She said that she’d asked for asylum, and that she’d managed to speak with her son, who was at a children’s shelter in Brownsville, Texas.
“I was able to communicate with him today. I was a little worried, because they wanted to ask for him back,” Meylin said. She was referring to the efforts of the Ortega-Murillo government to have the boy returned to Nicaragua.
Conflict over repatriation
In a press release, the Nicaraguan Interior Ministry commented that the child “said he was happy to know they were helping him go back to Nicaragua… That he wanted to hug his father and grandmother again.”
However, Misael Obregon posted a video of a telephone visit he had with the child. In this video, his uncle asks the boy if he wanted to return to Nicaragua or go to Miami. He answered, “I want to go with you.”
“What the government wants is to utilize him and deceive him into being taken back, so he can continue suffering in Nicaragua,” Misael says during the same video.
The child’s father, Lazaro Gutierrez, signed the papers to begin the process of requesting the boy’s repatriation. He also said it was fine with him if the boy wanted to stay in the United States. “For my part, it was good that he could stay, because now the danger is past.”
In Nicaragua, Socorro Leiva, Meylin’s mother, declared that she felt relieved at the news [of Meylin’s being freed]. She added that still hadn’t communicated with her. Another brother, Ismael, confirmed that his sister was healthy, but stated that he didn’t have any further information.
The Nicaraguan government issued a statement on April 9, regarding the boy’s case and his mother’s disappearance. Vice president and government spokesperson Rosario Murillo said they were requesting the support of Interpol and the Mexican and US authorities to locate Meylin.
Socorro stated that her daughter had left their community fleeing psychological violence from her partner, the boy’s father. The family lives in a community called Montes de Oro, in the municipality of Muelle de los Bueyes, in southeastern Nicaragua. Meylin Obregon and Lazaro have another son, a twelve-year-old boy, who lives with his father. Lazaro had agreed to let Meylin leave the country with the younger child, who is ten.
The case of the boy rescued on the border has had a great impact within and outside of the United States. He became a symbol of the humanitarian crisis on the border between Mexico and the United States. In March, nearly 19,000 unaccompanied children and teens entered US soil, the majority from Central America.