What dangers did Enrique encounter on his journey?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Nazario details that the journey to the North is a brutal one.  The entire journey is filled with physical challenges and emotional conditions that would test anyone's resolve.  To see a teen having to endure this is particularly heartbreaking:

As Enrique enters Mexico's southernmost state of Chiapas, he knows why immigrants call it "the beast." Bandits, street gangs and police will be out to get him. Even tree branches scraping the boxcars may hurl him from the train. But he will take those risks. He needs to find his mother. Enrique wades chest-deep across a river. He is 5 feet tall, stoop-shouldered and cannot swim. The logo on his cap boasts hollowly, "No Fear." The river, the Rio Suchiate, forms the border. Behind him is Guatemala. Ahead is Mexico, with its southernmost state of Chiapas. "Ahora nos enfrentamos a la bestia," immigrants say when they enter Chiapas. "Now we face the beast." Painfully, Enrique, 17, has learned a lot about "the beast." In Chiapas, bandits will be out to rob him, police will try to shake him down, and street gangs might kill him. But he will take those risks, because he needs to find his mother. 

While he enters, "the beast," it is only one aspect of what he will face on his journey.  The physical dangers from the journey are matched with the victimization that follows.  For Enrique, this involves rapings, muggings, intimidation, constant threats from corrupt authorities, as well as being targeted by his fellow immigrants.  One sees that his entire journey is "la bestia" and representative of the struggle that many immigrants endure simply to find a better life or some chance of happiness.

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