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World

Remembering Elsa Mendoza Marquez

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Let's remember another of the victims of the mass shooting in El Paso, Texas, last weekend. Reporter Monica Ortiz Uribe shares the story of Elsa Mendoza Marquez, a dual Mexican American citizen whose passion was teaching children.

MONICA ORTIZ URIBE, BYLINE: It was only supposed to be a quick stop on the way to the airport. Elsa Mendoza Marquez dashed into Walmart while her husband and son waited in the car. She was on her way to Colorado to visit her daughter, newly graduated from the University of Denver. Adrian Mendoza is Elsa's brother.

ADRIAN MENDOZA: She was there, and they only stopped real quick. I think she just needed to get extra money or to put some money in there at the bank.

ORTIZ URIBE: But Elsa never made it back out. She was among eight Mexicans killed in Saturday's attack. On Wednesday afternoon, a lone hearse delivered her body up in over the international bridge to a memorial service in neighboring Ciudad Juarez.

(SOUNDBITE OF BABY CRYING)

ORTIZ URIBE: Mourners gathered at the funeral home alongside wreaths of daisies and red roses. Adrian Valverde, a relative by marriage, said Elsa and her husband Antonio were married for 33 years. They had two adult children. Elsa was 57 and the principal at an elementary school in Juarez.

ADRIAN VALVERDE: (Speaking Spanish).

ORTIZ URIBE: "They were very much in love, very romantic," Valverde said. They loved to travel together. Elsa loved good wine and the music of Cuban artist Silvio Rodriguez. She survived breast cancer.

ADRIAN VALVERDE: (Speaking Spanish).

ORTIZ URIBE: "We're still in disbelief," he said. Ten years ago, during a horrific wave of drug violence, Elsa and her husband fled Juarez to live temporarily in El Paso. Like many other Juarenses (ph), they saw El Paso as a safe haven. Now some Mexicans are beginning to re-examine the way they see their neighbor to the north.

ANA SOFIA VALVERDE: (Speaking Spanish).

ORTIZ URIBE: That's 13-year-old Ana Sofia Valverde, a niece of Elsa Mendoza. "The United States was once grand, very grand," she says. "The whole world idolized it. But now, I don't know what's happening. It's becoming an ugly place."

Until Saturday, Ana Sofia dreamed of making a life in the U.S., but now she's not so sure. President Trump's harsh rhetoric toward immigrants and his threats directed at Mexico echo in her head. More than outrage over the president's words, Ana Sofia says she feels sad that people continue to support him. For NPR News, I'm Monica Ortiz Uribe in Ciudad Juarez. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.