by Joseph Sorrentino

Members of La Caravana de los Mutilados protest in Mexico City

I spent six weeks in Mexico in 2015, investigating the effects of *Plan Frontera Sur*, the Mexican program supposedly designed to keep Central Americans migrating through that country safe. All it really did was stop them — sometimes brutally — from riding *La Bestia*. After five weeks of traveling, interviewing dozens of people in five shelters, and staying in two of them, I was back in my room in Mexico City, badly in need of a break. That ended my first day back when Polo, a Mexican reporter I’d met, called me to tell me that a group of Hondurans, all of whom had lost limbs to *La Bestia* were staying in a shelter and he was heading there. Now. He told me to meet him. That wasn’t the way I expected my break to go but I grabbed my camera and tape recorder and headed out.

La Caravana de los Mutilados consisted of 17 Honduran men who were determined to make it to the U.S. and, while they traveled, to warn others about the dangers of riding La Bestia. The men belonged to the Associación de Migrantes Retornados con Discapacidad (AMIREDIS). All of its members had been severely injured during their journey to the U.S. The majority of the members are men but there are a few women, although none were part of the caravan. Most of the group actually made it to the U.S. where, the last time I had contact with them, they were applying for asylum.

I interviewed several of the men in the shelter and went with them on a trip to the zocalo in Mexico City where they staged a small protest. On the way there, they had to navigate stairs, the Metro (Mexico City’s subway system) and long walks to connecting trains. I was awed and humbled by their gritty determination.

The shelter

José Luís; he lost his limbs when, exhausted, he passed out on the train and it shook, knocking him off. He was fortunate that a passing motorist worked for the Red Cross and got him to a hospital. “Americans need to know we suffer too much to get to the United States and when we arrive, it is not to go to the beaches or Las Vegas; it is just to go to work.”

José Alfredo; he was holding onto the ladder of a moving train when he lost his grip and fell. “I tried to get up and when I did I saw that I did not have a leg.”


Luís Alonso arriving at the zocalo

José Israel celebrating his arrival in the zocalo; “I am here to show other people who want to immigrate what can happen. I would tell people not to migrate.”

Crossing to the cathedral in the zocalo

Benito; the sign says, “We are survivors of La Bestia.”

Normán Saúl; Mexican immigration forced him and others off the train and when he tried to get back on, he fell and lost his leg. “My oldest son wants to migrate. I tell him no but I think he will… it is a part of life when you have nothing.”

The protest

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**Joseph Sorrentino is a freelance photojournalist whose work has been published in In These Times, The Santa Fe Reporter, and *Commonweal. *View more of his work at: **

Read more by Joseph Sorrentino Here, Here, and Here on IMM Print