Running to Nowhere: The Central American Refugee Crisis
The ‘Maras’ originated on the streets of Los Angeles in the 1980’s. Having fled from the civil wars in Honduras and El Salvador many men joined either the Mara Salvatrucha (MS13) or Calle 18 (M18) street gangs. In the 1990’s the US government began deporting the gang members back to their respective countries. Now 20 years later, these re-established ‘Maras’ are running Honduras and El Salvador into crisis. I wish to tell the story of migrant people, trapped in a nightmare between violence and rejection.
Hundreds of thousands of people have been fleeing their homes in Central America for decades, including more recently an influx of unaccompanied adolescents. They travel via various modes of transport often across Mexico and to the United States yet the most popular is “La Bestia”. This huge freight train traverses from the south to the north of Mexico. The 1000-mile journey is fraught with extreme dangers and takes several months. Not withstanding the risk of injury on the trains. The environmental hazards of dehydration, food and water contamination, sunburn and disease are second to the risk of theft, beatings, rape, torture, violence, kidnapping, mutilation and death.
The question is begged as to why they would risk their lives doing this and a part of this series aims to answer that question. The circumstances they face in their countries of origin may be from lack of financial opportunities to the threat of death.