Tuesday 15 July 2014

La Bestia: Death Train to America

Map of route of Death Train to America courtesy fusion.net.

Last August, La Bestia or the Beast, a cargo train carrying Central American migrants on its rooftop to the American border, derailed.  Out of its 250 riders, five people died and another 18 were seriously injured. Yet, 20,000 more migrants have ridden La Bestia in the first four months of 2014.  What drives these migrants to ride "the death train to America"?

The train starts its journey in Arriaga, a town in southern Mexico which is 200 kilometres from the Guatemalan border.  Inside the train are sacks of corn, cement and minerals.  On top are dirt poor migrants, men, women and children, packed in like sardines, carrying no more than a few items in a backpack.

One young widow from Honduras said that she left her children with her cousin to make a better life for them.  She was looking for a job as a dishwasher or vegetable picker.

After twelve hours of travelling along the coast, the train reaches the town of Ixtepec.  At the railroad junction, the migrants jump on another train, this one taking them to "El Norte", a journey that will take days, maybe weeks.

It is in the North that they hope to find the American dream.  In the United States, the migrants can make $5 or $6 an hour.  Back home in Central America, it takes them a day to make the same amount.  Thirty percent of the migrants are "cyclical", which means they returning to the United States after having already worked there and been deported.  He was employed at a Michigan Applebee's for a few years and made such a good impression, he received the employee of the month award.

But in order to reach America, the migrants first face the arduous journey.  Some fall off the train trying to board it while its in motion, landing under its wheels.  Others fall off due to fatigue or dehydration.  And some perish in collisions or derailments, like the one last summer.

Criminal gangs and corrupt officials in Mexico prey on the migrants.  Mexican authorities have made it difficult to travel through their country; most of the migrants are travelling illegally.  Gangs target the migrants for robberies, rapes and kidnappings, demanding ransom for their safe return.  One priest near the U.S.-Mexico border has taken pity on the migrants, offering them a free meal and bed for the night.

Even with last August's derailment, La Bestia continues to rumble up and down the coast of Mexico, its whistle blowing, its wheels screeching, its rooftop laden with immigrants.  It's poverty which brings them to the North.  It's poverty which drives them to work hard.  May God bless their journey!

Source:  www.cnn.com

Death Train to America courtesy www.wnd.com.

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