Train to El Norte

The ease of crossing the Suchiate River that forms the border between Mexico and Guatemala belies the many dangers facing Central American immigrants who need to first cross Mexico in order the enter the United States. For ten Mexican pesos from the border town of Tecun Uman, Guatemala, people and goods are ferried into Mexico at an illegal crossing point. For many would migrants this crossing marks the beginning of a harrowing journey. Only the poorest migrants take this route, braving a ride on top of the freight trains that head north. Arriaga is the starting point for the freight train, which poor migrants who don’t have money to hire a coyote will often ride, facing dangers ranging from theft and rape to mutilation or death if they fall from the train. Poor migrants including women and children who don’t have money to hire a coyote will often ride the train where they face dangers ranging from theft and rape to mutilation or death if they fall from the train. Arriaga is the first place the train can be boarded, and on the walk from the border with Guatemala many have already been robbed multiple times. They have crossed multiple borders but the toughest part of the journey lies ahead of them, in Mexico. Mexico, and the southern most state of Chiapas in particular, they say, is far more dangerous to cross than the border with the United States. They will be robbed, beaten, or raped. They will walk for days on foot until their shoes falls apart. They will run from immigration and corrupt police. They could lose a limb, or their life, to the machine they call the beast, the devil. Here she comes.