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El tren de la muerte ("The Death Train") refers to a network of Mexican freight trains that are utilized by U.S.- bound migrants to more quickly traverse the length of Mexico, also known as La Bestia ("The Beast") and El tren de los desconocidos ("The train of the unknowns"). This mode of travel is extremely dangerous and illegal. It is estimated that yearly between 400,000 and 500,000 migrants, the majority of whom are of Central American origin, continue to ride atop these trains in the effort to reach the United States. The National Migration Service (Spanish: Instituto Nacional de Migración (INM)) reports that of 64,061 foreign nationals that were detained in the year 2009, 60,383 were from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. Furthermore, according to the consul of El Salvador, Vilma Mendoza, "Around 30 percent of those who ride the trains are 'cyclical migrants'; men and women who attempt to return to the United States after deportation, or after a failed attempt".
But most are escaping violence and poverty from their home countries.
Other factors that have contributed to the mass exodus of Central Americans, according to Juan Pardinas, CEO of the Mexican Institute for Competitiveness, are "the precarious economic situation of their countries of origin, the consequences of civil and political-military conflict, as well as social and economic devastation caused by natural disasters, such as hurricanes". Although these trains (which transport products and materials including corn, cement, and minerals) are regarded as a free form of travel that allows migrants to avoid Mexico's numerous immigration checkpoints and 48 detention centers, the risks are high and many riders are left with life-altering injuries that limit their capacity to work.
As of May 9, 2014, train operators have banned the passengers from traveling by the train.

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  1. CountryGent

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