“La Bestia,” a documentary about kids traveling thousands of miles on top of trains from Central America to try to get to the United States, truly broke my heart. It is an utterly gut-wrenching and wholly vital watch at the same time.
The main train line these kids often ride is called La Bestia (“The Beast”), also known as El Tren de la Muerte (“The Train of Death”). It takes route in Chiapas state in southern Mexico, near the border of Guatemala. From there it travels north to the Lecherías station on the outskirts of Mexico City, where it connects with a network of Mexican freight trains heading for myriad points on the U.S. border
Each year some 500,000 migrants from Central America journey precariously on top of trains in the effort to reach the border. The dangers to these kids (as young as 7) traveling at times alone or in groups of other young children are innumerable. Some are horribly injured, some are kidnapped or sexually and physically abused, and many often die wandering alone in the desert — and yet they still come.
Immigration is an immense issue with a such a complex calculus to unravel that it’s seemingly impossible to know where to begin. Globalization, government corruption at all levels, profiteering from human smuggling, and the utter shit show of the immigration process here in the US are all factors at fault. Nonetheless, a massive part of the problem is how much this issue is oversimplified in our country.
One thing that is for sure, ignoring what is happening or being reductive for political gain or otherwise sure as hell isn’t going to make this go away. Without massive help in immigration infrastructure both here and Central America, “The Beast” will travel on, roaring past the dark and devastating night sky with children braced aboard, full of both distant hope and perpetual nightmares.
Written by: Brian Teasley
By - Kristi Houk “These are dangerous days. To say what you feel is to dig your own grave.” -Sinead O’Connor, “Black Boys on Mopeds” from I Do Not Want What I haven’t Got, (1990) I wasn’t supposed to write this. I was slated to review the latest Guided by […]
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