Rodriguez-Flores family marks one month in sanctuary

By Geoff Agombar – Local Journalism Initiative
Rodriguez-Flores family marks one month in sanctuary
Luis Garcia, Manolo Rodriguez-Flores, Georgina Flores and Manuel Rodriguez. (Photo : Geoff Agombar)

Wednesday marked one month since the Rodriguez-Flores family sought sanctuary within the Plymouth-Trinity United Church in Sherbrooke.

During these first four weeks, the family has kept a low profile while deciding on next steps. But a Wedensday press conference, new legal steps, and a vigil on Friday evening open a new chapter in their fight for Canadian residency on humanitarian grounds.

Speaking through an interpreter, Georgina Flores spoke of her fear for her family and gratitude to all who have stepped forward to support and protect them. She described their dilemma as a choice between Mexico where they will be killed and Canada where they want to work and live in security.

Flores briefly recounted the life they left behind in Torreón in the Coahuila region of northeastern Mexico, where the infamously violent Los Zetas cartel is active. She mentioned murders, rapes and bodies hanging under bridges in her area. Her family was approached by members of the cartel wanting to sell drugs through their café, which they refused. They resisted demands for protection money and their restaurant was burned down. Flores, her husband and son fled to seek refugee status in Canada.

Flores spoke of how scared she was to leave her daughter Claudia behind. Claudia had a husband and child, and she chose to stay and rebuild. Later, her lawyer, Stewart Istvanffy, offered more precise details of how Los Zetas came to her house, restrained Claudia and her child in a bathroom, doused the house in gas and lit it on fire. Claudia managed to escape her bindings and flee the burning building with her child. She and her husband followed her parents to Canada.
At Wednesday’s event, Claudia chose to stay out of sight with her two children, one of whom was born since her arrival in Canada. Her husband Luis Garcia, father Manuel Rodriguez and brother Manolo Rodriguez-Flores appeared with her mother, but did not speak.

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