The Beast: Riding the Rails and Dodging Narcos on the Migrant Trail

Oscar Martinez, trans. from the Spanish by Daniela Maria Ugaz and John Washington. Verso (Random, dist.), $26.95 (224p) ISBN 978-1-78168-132-9
This searing account of the hardships suffered by Central American migrants headed through Mexico to the United States comes from true shoe-leather reporting. In 2007 and 2008, Salvadoran journalist Martinez criss-crossed the most dangerous parts of Mexico to capture stories of Hondurans, Salvadorans, and Guatemalans traversing what's increasingly become a criminal narco-state. Robbery, kidnapping, rape, and assault are "the inevitable tolls of the road" imposed by cartels that have branched out into human trafficking and extortion. Martinez observes that today, human trafficking and prostitution isn't "…a scar-faced man tending a cage of women. It's a complex system of everyday lies and coercions that happen just behind our backs." A journey marred by armed assaults and fatal accidents on "The Beast" (a freight train running north through the state of Oaxaca) is a trip "soaked with blood." This straightforward translation, first published in Spanish in 2010, doesn't flinch at migrants' plight, and as the drug wars further rend Mexico asunder, it's hard to imagine the situation changing. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 09/16/2013
Release date: 10/08/2013
Paperback - 275 pages - 978-1-78168-297-5
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