Salvadoran president says his country is to blame for migrants drowning in Rio Grande

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The new president of El Salvador on Monday took responsibility for the June deaths of a father and daughter who drowned crossing the Rio Grande in a bid to reach the United States, saying the onus is on his government to make the country a safer place — and one where migration is “an option, not an obligation.”

A photograph from the Mexican side of the river showing the body of Oscar Martinez and his daughter, Valeria, lying face down with Valeria’s arms still wrapped around her father’s neck shocked the world late last month amid an already heated debate about illegal immigration in the US.

President Nayib Bukele, who took office a month ago with the promise of making El Salvador a safer and better place, told the BBC in an interview published Monday his country is to blame for the deaths. He said his government is responsible for fixing the problems that have forced hundreds of thousands of people to flee in the first place.

“People don’t flee their homes because they want to, people flee their homes because they feel they have to,” Bukele told the BBC. “Why? Because they don’t have a job, because they are being threatened by gangs, because they don’t have basic things like water, education, health.”

He continued: “We can blame any other country but what about our blame? What country did they flee? Did they flee the United States? They fled El Salvador, they fled our country. It is our fault.” – READ MORE

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