No More Deaths


by Raul Enrique Romero Martinez, United World College USA Alumnus
September 30th, 2018


There is a dark, powerful, fast and inhuman Creature that devours the dreams of a new start, the hopes for a better future, and a way out of violence. In Latin America, we’ve all heard of it. La Bestia.  Running fast on the railroad tracks, transporting raw materials from Central America, it has become the last resort for many migrants, devouring the dreams of a new beginning and the hopes for a better future. I got to know the Creature through two travelers, Gerson and Juan, who survived its attack.
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As soon as they jumped, they heard the screams of terror. The person beside them had failed to hold on as the train rushed forward. His hands had been too slippery, and instead of rushing to a better future, he had fell victim to the Creature. It bit off his legs and spit them out on the other side of the tracks, blood quickly staining the sand that surrounded him. Wide-eyed, he had screamed for the last time in his life; his life now in the hands of the Beast.
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On my first day by the Mexican border,  I had already heard what the migrants had to go through to immigrate. With helicopters spinning over their heads, they have to hide as to not become prey acting as bats in the darkness.
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I felt the tension in the air. Border Patrol SUVs surrounded our camp with agents armed to the tooth, suspecting that the ‘aliens’ they were tracking were hiding inside our tents. Their suspicion was right, we did have ‘aliens’ in our tarps.
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From the minute Border Patrol watched over the group of students I belonged to, I felt the agents’ eyes staring at the pigment of my skin, one that happened to match the migrants’ more than the cream color of my peers. They spent more time checking my passport than they did on those of American and European citizenship and for the first time since coming to the US, I truly felt like a migrant.
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The migrants arrived panting, thirsty, tired, and injured. They never seemed sad or regretful because they knew this was the path they had chosen, but I could see the pain in their eyes as they talked to us. Their journey had started three months before we saw them, and after a lot of trouble, they had finally reached the other side of the border.
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“Being chased by Border Patrol is nothing for us,” they said to my surprise. I’d seen the thorough searches they carried out; had witnessed their blunt weapons ready to launch. “The narcos are worse. They release hunting dogs close to the Beast to take you down, and force your family to pay thousands of dollars as ransom. I was poor before coming here, and when I got caught, I owed 5,000 ‘greens’ to the people that had supported me monetarily. Each day of the fifteen days I was captive made me doubt whether I would wake up alive the next morning.”
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They left as quickly as they had come, without a sound, not letting anyone know of their departure.  As I volunteered with No More Deaths, walking in the desert for one week, leaving water on trails for the ones who can make it that far, I understood. Canyons, green pastures, and immense mountains made me question the existence of suffering in such a majestic place, but shoes, bones, bottles, and shrines were a reminder of their pain.
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After seeing the shrine of an 8-year old girl who passed away while walking through the desert and hearing the stories of Gerson and Juan, I realized that the real beast is not the train but the poverty and violence that leads thousands of Latin Americans to embark on a path of despair.

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