Known in Spanish as “La Bestia,” the Beast is a freight train that was used for decades by Central American migrants hoping to get to the United States. The train runs from the Mexican southern border to Veracruz on the Gulf. It was for years notorious for causing deaths and serious injuries, and in 2014 Mexican authorities began raiding it and removing illegal passengers, which caused the train’s use by migrants to slow to a trickle.
With the recent raid on the 3000-member caravan in Chiapas (reported here yesterday), however, migrants anxious to sneak into the U.S. seem to have decided, dangerous or not, they’ll risk it. “If we can’t walk, if we can’t take the bus, we’ll go on the train,” said one rider, an El Salvadoran mechanic, who had climbed aboard with his wife and two children. Even as he did so, however, he listed the dangers on the train: “There are drug traffickers, gangs, thieves….”
There are also the hazards you might expect from riding atop a freight train. Another migrant told a reporter how he had witnessed a fellow Honduran knocked from his seat on the train by a low-hanging branch and toppled helplessly to the tracks below.
Yet, with Mexico having discontinued its humanitarian visa program and begun ticketing truckers who offer rides to migrants, and with the seemingly unquenchable thirst of the Central American poor to live in America, the Beast is once again the transportation conveyance of choice.
For more, see USA Today.