Mexico families mourn, receive ashes of NYC virus victims

Mexico families mourn, receive ashes of NYC virus victims

Puebla state workers handle an urn holding ashes of a Mexican who died in the U.S. from COVID-19 complications during a ceremony where the remains of 105 Mexicans who died in the U.S. of the new coronavirus were turned over to their families in Puebla, Mexico, Monday, July 13, 2020. More than 1,500 Mexican immigrants have died of the virus in the United States, according to Jorge Islas, consul general for New York. (Credit: Fernando Llano/AP.)

The cremated remains of Mexicans who died of COVID-19 in New York lay on a platform in neat rows, wrapped in black cloth and each topped by a single white rose.

PUEBLA, Mexico — The cremated remains of Mexicans who died of COVID-19 in New York lay on a platform in neat rows, wrapped in black cloth and each topped by a single white rose.

Government workers in masks, plastic face guards and gloves handled the containers with care, as a green, white and red Mexican flag fluttered from a pole in a public square. Mariachi musicians performed songs honoring the dead.

Mexican Mariachi musicians play during a ceremony to mourns 105 Mexican locals that died from COVID-19 complications in the United States, in Puebla, Mexico, Monday, July 13, 2020. (Credit: Fernando Llano/AP.)

Relatives of Mexican citizens that died from COVID-19 complications in the United States attend a ceremony for their loved ones in Puebla, Mexico, Monday, July 13, 2020. (Credit: Fernando Llano/AP.)

That was the scene Monday in the central Mexican city of Puebla, capital of the state of the same name, as 105 Mexican immigrants whose remains were flown back to the country over the weekend were mourned in their native state.

About 20 families sat beneath a tent outside the marigold, colonial-era governor’s house for the ceremony.

Jorge Islas, Mexico’s consul general in New York, who accompanied the victims’ remains on a Mexican air force, described the dead as individuals who worked hard so that later generations might be better off. A number of them were front-line workers in the pandemic, he said, “migrant heroes” who toiled to make sure there was food and medicine in New York, or cleaning and disinfecting hospitals.

A relative of a Mexican citizen that died from COVID-19 complications in the United States, records a remembrance ceremony with her phone as mariachis musicians play in Puebla, Mexico, Monday, July 13, 2020. (Credit: Fernando Llano/AP.)

Relatives of Mexican citizens that died from COVID-19 complications in the United States carry urns containing the ashes of their loved ones during a ceremony in Puebla, Mexico, Monday, July 13, 2020. (Credit: Fernando Llano/AP.)

“I want to tell you that even though they are now in Mexico today, in New York they leave a legacy,” Islas said.

Many Mexican immigrants in the New York metro region come from Puebla city and state. Mounted on the building’s wall, a sign with a black ribbon listed the names of dozens of “poblanos who died in the tri-state area” from the coronavirus.

Mexican soldiers and members of the diplomatic service mourn five boxed cremated remains, of Mexicans who died from COVID-19, during a welcoming ceremony at the tarmac of Benito Suarez International airport in Mexico City, Saturday, July 11, 2020. The ashes of 245 Mexican were repatriated to Mexico from New York in a military airplane. (Credit: Fernando Llano/AP.)

Five boxed cremated remains of Mexicans who died from COVID-19 are displayed on a table at the tarmac of Benito Suarez International airport in Mexico City, Saturday, July 11, 2020. The ashes of 245 Mexicans were repatriated to Mexico from New York in a military airplane. (Credit: Fernando Llano/AP.)

Before they were repatriated, the ashes were blessed along with those of some 150 other Mexicans in a ceremony at Saint Patrick’s Cathedral in New York.

Puebla authorities began handing over ashes Monday to families living locally; people from other municipalities were to receive them progressively in the coming days.

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