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Riding 'The Beast'Riding 'The Beast'AUGUST 4, 2000. TONALA, CHIAPAS, MEXICO. "Riding The Beast" Clinging to the top of a speeding freight train, Denis Evan Contrarez, 12, right, and Santo Antonio Gamay, 25, go face down to avoid tree branches flying over their bodies. Denis had seen branches lacerate skin and throw people clear off the train. Minutes before I made this picture, stowaways were yelling, "rama, rama, rama!" Then I was clobbered and sent reeling. Prepared for the next warning, I pre-focused, set a slow camera shutter speed, aimed, dropped my head into the crook of my arm and fired away. (Photograph by Don Bartletti)
Enrique's Journey

Exhibit Synopsis:
Annually in the vast migration that’s changing the face of America, 1000’s of Central Americans attempt a harrowing 1,500-mile journey through the length of Mexico on the tops of freight trains.
Nearly all are visited by cruelty, hunger and fatigue. Stowaways call the unscheduled train they run to catch, “La Bestia” or The Beast. Some are maimed or killed by the iron wheels. In the states of Chiapas and Oaxaca, Mara Salvatrucha gangsters, corrupt law enforcement officers and opportunist citizens hunt them like animals. By contrast, in the state of Veracruz trackside residents throw gifts of food, water and clothing to migrants as the train passes by.
Among these migrants are children as young as 12 who travel alone. Most are trying to find parents – usually mothers - who left them behind years ago to work in the United States. For children, the dream of reunification becomes the quest for the Holy Grail. Success comes only to the brave and the lucky.

Don Bartletti

Bound to El NorteOut of Central AmericaRiding 'The Beast'AgonyGift for a Northbound MigrantChiapas Racers