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Guatemalan girl’s Christmas funeral too much for grieving mother

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A crowd of mourners said goodbye to the 7-year-old Guatemalan migrant girl who died in U.S. custody this month, laying her to rest in a Christmas Day funeral that left her mother so crushed she could not bear to attend.

Friends and family on Tuesday lowered the body of Jakelin Caal into a grave in an impoverished mountain village in Guatemala, some 2,000 miles from where she died in an El Paso, Texas, hospital on Dec. 8 after succumbing to a high fever.

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Relatives and neighbors took turns carrying the girl’s white coffin, trudging along a marshy, muddy road to a tiny cemetery where only seven gray tombs marked the earth.

The sun shone and a small speaker played religious songs at the graveside where around 150 people gathered to bid Jakelin farewell. But it was too much for her mother and grandfather, said her uncle Jose Manuel Caal, 33.

“They couldn’t bear the sadness,” he said.

One grandmother and two uncles were the only close relatives from the indigenous Q’eqchi Maya family to attend.

Jakelin’s father remains in the United States, where the father and daughter turned themselves in to U.S. border agents on Dec. 6, hoping they could find a way of staying to start a new life.

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After falling ill, Jakelin died from a combination of cardiac arrest, brain swelling and liver failure, U.S. officials said.

Her death raised questions about how migrants are treated in the hands of authorities and fueled criticism from opponents of U.S. President Donald Trump’s tough immigration policies. U.S. authorities are investigating the death.

On Tuesday, a second Guatemalan child, a boy of 8, died after being detained by U.S. border agents.

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A United Nations human rights expert on Monday called on U.S. authorities to stop detaining children.

Jakelin and her father were among thousands of Central American migrants who have abandoned their homes for the United States in recent months in a bid to escape poverty or violence.

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Many Central Americans who traveled in a recent migrant caravan remain stuck south of the U.S. border in Mexico.

Rax Kok, a 34-year-old farmer at Tuesday’s funeral, said he was troubled by how much migration there had been from his town.

“I’m so worried because there’s been a wave, an era of Q’eqchi leaving for three years now,” he said. “We don’t have anything. … All there is is to migrate and everyone’s leaving.”

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Reporting by Sofia Menchu; Editing by Dave Graham and Leslie Adler


Report typos and corrections to: [email protected].
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2020 Election

More female Republicans will lose in 2020 as ‘misogynist’ Trump wages a ‘war on women’: Ex-GOP candidate

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President Donald Trump's actions will harm female Republicans at the ballot box in 2020, according to a former GOP counsel for the House Oversight Committee.

Sophia Nelson, who ran for Congress as a Republican, made her argument in The Daily Beast.

"Donald Trump has attacked so many women in so many ways for their looks, their age, or their position it can be hard to keep track," Nelson wrote. "But the president took his attacks on strong, accomplished and independent women even further in his attacks on his own U.S. ambassador, Marie Yovanovitch, telling Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky that 'the former ambassador from the United States, the woman, was bad news.' That was in the now infamous phone call that led to the impeachment hearings that began this week, and Friday, in the middle of Yovanovitch’s testimony there, he tweeted that 'everywhere Marie Yovanovitch went turned bad.'”

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Trump’s hearsay defense goes out the window as House Intel releases transcripts of two first-hand witnesses

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The House Intelligence Committee released two new transcripts on Saturday from first-hand witnesses who were on the line for President Donald Trup's call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

The transcripts are from the depositions of Deputy Assistant to the President Timothy Morrison and Vice President Pence’s special adviser on Europe and Russia, Jennifer Williams.

The chairs of the Intelligence, Foreign Affairs, and Oversight committees released a joint statement on the testimony.

"The testimony released today shows that President Trump’s July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Zelensky immediately set off alarm bells throughout the White House. Both witnesses provided the Committees with first-hand accounts after personally listening to the call in the White House Situation Room," the chairs said.

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GOP’s impeachment ‘game plan’ fell apart after Trump’s Yovanovitch tweet and now they’re unsure how to defend him: Politico reporter

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On CNN Saturday, Politico's Melanie Zanona noted that President Donald Trump's decision to attack former Ukraine Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch in a tweet while she was testifying to Congress not only risks another article of impeachment — it is also leaving his Republican allies unable to defend his behavior.

"Melanie, it's hard to know what all independent and undecided voters might be thinking, but I had a guest on earlier who made a powerful point, in that some voters might be looking at the pattern of how the president describes particularly powerful women, and he would call her bad news and she had such an esteemed reputation," said anchor Fredricka Wilson.

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