I created this video project and photo essay for the Latin America Working Group Education Fund (LAWG) with support from Cammina and the Association of Returned Migrants with Disabilities (AMIREDIS). The concept, writing, direction, subtitling, video and photo editing for this project were completed by me, with some translation assistance from LAWG interns Julia Yanoff and Helena Molina, as well as help from my key grip Mike LaSusa.
View the project in its entirety here or see an excerpt below:
SIX COURAGEOUS MIGRANTS SPEAK OUT TO SHARE THEIR STORIES AND BRING ATTENTION TO THE HORRORS FACED BY CENTRAL AMERICAN MIGRANTS EVERY DAY.
A Dangerous Journey on the “Train of Death”
It may seem an impossible choice to risk your life and limbs to travel the dangerous route through Mexico, walking for days on end with little to no food, water, or sleep, jumping aboard the freight train known as “The Beast” (“La Bestia“) in an attempt to reach the United States. But, for thousands of Central Americans —particularly those from the Northern Triangle countries of Honduras,El Salvador, and Guatemala— it has become a necessity.
Many are not migrating, but fleeing situations of poverty, rampant impunity and corruption, and violence committed by gangs, drug-trafficking organizations, the state and other actors. While traveling in search of refuge, these migrants face dangers on their journey to the United States, including the risk of injury, death, extortion, harassment, or sexual violence at the hands of Mexican officials, organized crime groups, and others.
These conditions have only been exacerbated by Mexico’s increased migration enforcement and the implementation of the Southern Border Plan, known by many migrants as the “Southern Cemetery Plan.”
For some migrants—including the members of the Honduran Association of Returned Migrants with Disabilities (AMIREDIS)— the nightmare includes being mutilated by the train. After suffering traumatic injuries caused by falling from the train in Mexico, hundreds of Hondurans have been deported back to their home country where they have few options for living a normal life and receive little to no support from the government. In 2008, a group of these returned migrants formed AMIREDIS to bring attention to the hard realities of migration.
This year, thirteen members of the group decided to take a caravan trip through Mexico and into the United States with the goal of giving a voice to the migrants who face the worst nightmare of their life crossing Mexico. The “Everything is Possible” caravan worked its way through the southern United States until reaching the group’s final destination: Washington, DC. Eight members of AMIREDIS arrived in Washington on June 17, 2015 and they are determined to stay until their message has been heard. These men represent more than 700 Hondurans who have been mutilated by the train, more than 3,000 migrants who have disappeared en route, and more than 300 migrants who have been returned to Honduras as cadavers.