Brazilian is buried 2 months after being abandoned in the desert in the USA


Two months after being found on the border between Mexico and the United States, the body of the Brazilian who died after being abandoned in the desert by her fellow travelers arrived in Vale do Paraíso, in Rondônia.

Nurse Lenilda dos Santos was veiled for five hours in the gymnasium of her hometown, with around 800 to 1,000 people present. The coffin left for the burial at around 2:30 pm (local time, 3:30 pm in Brasília), to the sound of the song “Lei da Vida” by Sabrina Lopes, surrounded by people holding white balloons.

The delay in releasing the body occurred because the case is still being investigated in the United States. The cause of death will only come out after the result of toxicological tests, which can take up to 90 days.

“It was a lot of bureaucracy,” says Kleber Vilanova, a businessman who lives in Columbus, Ohio, who took care of the repatriation procedures. “The documents that were with her have not yet been released, and some airlines are demanding this. The Brazilian consulate helped and we finally managed to apostille everything and the body was sent this weekend.”

The costs of the transfer — US$ 11,000 in total, the equivalent of R$ 60,000 — were covered with the help of a crowdfunding campaign, to which people living in both countries, friends or not, contributed. family. Within Brazil, an airline offered to provide transportation from São Paulo to Rondônia.

The suspicion is that her death was due to dehydration, but the death certificate will only be updated when the test results come out.

Lenilda was 49 years old and worked in the nursing field in Vale do Paraíso. To pay off debts related to his two daughters’ college tuition, he decided to return to the US, where he had already lived in the early 2000s, in search of a better-paying job.

In April of this year, she used the system known as “cai-cai”, surrendering herself to border guards, but was eventually deported. In September, she traveled with the objective of crossing the desert without being seen, a more dangerous modality.

She was accompanied by three childhood friends and a coyote who took them across. On September 7, she sent voice messages to her family from her cell phone, saying that she had been left alone because she couldn’t stand walking any longer, but that the group would come back to pick her up. He also sent the location of where he was, near the city of Deming, New Mexico, and said he was very thirsty.

A week later, on Wednesday (15), at 4:16 pm, his body was found after the family called the US border patrol.

One of his brothers, Leci Pereira, who lives in Brazil, told the sheet that Lenilda’s traveling companions told him they couldn’t bear to carry her.

The search was especially difficult because she was wearing camouflage clothing so that she would not be identified by the police as she crossed the border. Lenilda sent the family a photo in which she appears, right before starting the crossing, alongside seven other people, all wearing pants and blouses with a moss green print, boots and hats.

Disappearances during the crossing between Mexico and the US are common. The desert is up to 35°C with dry air during the day and cold wind at night, the ground has rocks and holes and there is also the danger of encountering drug dealers and other criminals along the way.

The number of Brazilians detained on the US-Mexico border has hit a record in recent months. According to data from the Customs and Border Protection Service (CBP), there were more than 47 thousand apprehensions between October 2020 and September 2021.


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