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Latino Daily News

Sunday December 8, 2013

Salvadoran Highlights Dangers of “The Beast” Train in Book

Salvadoran Highlights Dangers of “The Beast” Train in Book

Photo: "The Beast: Riding the Rails and Dodging Narcos on the Migrant Trail"

Click Here to Enlarge Photo

The book “The Beast: Riding the Rails and Dodging Narcos on the Migrant Trail,” by Salvadoran journalist Oscar Martinez, is a compendium of all the risks run by Salvadorans trying to enter the United States without authorizatiion.

The Beast is the generic name immigrants give to trains that go from Chiapas, a state on Mexico’s border with Guatemala, all the way to the states of Sonora and Coahuila in northern Mexico.

“Many of the immigrants are assaulted along the way by common thieves or by the cops,” Martinez told Efe about the book presented this week in Los Angeles.

Martinez told how he spent more than two years accompanying immigrants on their travels from Central America to the United States, going both ways and collecting the stories of thousands of immigrants.

“On top of a train there aren’t journalists and migrants, there are only people hanging on. There is nothing but speed, wind and sometimes a hoarse conversation,” Martinez writes in his book.

“The roof of the cars is the floor for all, and those who fall, fall the same way. Staying on is all that matters,” he writes.

The Salvadoran activist, who has spent more than 20 years defending immigrants who managed to enter the United States and since 2002 has been working particularly with day laborers, said that he feels the story he tells in “The Beast” in a deeply personal way.

“We almost died crossing the river because we crossed it in winter. Some 20 or 25 of us tried to cross the river that didn’t look all that deep, but when we got halfway across the current was too strong,” said Alvarado, one of the national leaders promoting immigration law reform.

The writer also noted that the risks of the journey are worse for women, since eight out of every 10 migrant women trying to cross Mexico suffer sexual abuse, sometimes at the hands of migrant men in their own group.

For Alvarado, reform that would permit the legalization of immigrants has been within reach of the U.S. government for years but it has lacked the political will to enact it.

As the activist sees it, nothing will be done about immigration reform in 2013.

“Whoever says it’s going to happen this year is lying. They’re creating false expectations for the community, but I think its crueler to lie to them,” he said.

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