Gilberto Ramirez spent three years in Oakland, California, working long hours pruning trees and grooming lawns with one goal in mind: saving up enough money for his wife and four children back in San Pedro Necta, Guatemala, to come join him.
In March 2016, Ramirez got his wish when his wife, three sons and daughter reunited with him in East Oakland. They joined the fast-growing number of Central American immigrants building new lives in the Bay Area, many of whom came escaping violence and poverty in their home countries.
But within 19 months, the family’s youngest son, eighth-grader Anibal Andres Ramirez was shot and killed. Police found his body on a bench on the evening of 10 October 2017 near the intersection of Foothill Blvd and Seminary Ave, blocks from the apartment the family rented.
Anibal became the city’s youngest gun homicide victim that year at just 13 years old.
It was my dream to have my family together in the United StatesGilberto Ramirez
The case has not been solved, and nearly two and a half years later, Gilberto Ramirez is still trying to make sense of how his plan to give his son a better life in Oakland backfired so badly.
“It was my dream to have my family together in the United States,” Ramirez told the Guardian in a recent interview in Spanish, which is his second language after the indigenous language Mam. “So much effort and suffering to raise the money to bring my son here, only to have some lowlife cut off my son’s life. It hurts.”