Copyright 2004 Donna DeCesare
The most comprehensive coverage of Central America in years.
Award-winning radio to use as an educational and learning tool.
Crossing Rio Suchiate, Guatemala - Mexico border
Juan Reyes Lost limbs and broken dreams: migrants who lost limbs trying to ride the train to El Norte

Augusto Cax Chilel at left

The woman in white is Olga Sanchez Martinez, director of the Jesus el Buen Pastor rehabilitation center in Tapachula. The woman in the wheel chair is from El Salvador. She tried to jump the train, but fell off and lost a leg. She has no money, and no way to care for herself. The prothetic legs on the bed in the image below belong to her. The shelter bought them for her.

Segment 4:

Senior Reporter: Franc Contreras
Associate: Citlali Saenz

One of the many legacies of the civil conflicts of the 1980's in Central America has been an increased flow of migrants north from those once war- ravaged lands. Now it's the region's sagging economies and the area's heavy dependence on money from the United States that keeps the flow coming. Migrants who make the journey north from Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Guatemala often face many obstacles. Those who make the journey illegally often risk robbery, rape, even murder at the hands of vicious gangs that patrol the Mexican border... and an increased official presence at the "other border" between Mexico and Guatemala has done little to stem the tide of what some call the "kamikazes of poverty." In this segment of our series "Despues de las Guerras: Central America after the wars" Franc Contreras looks at the extreme risks many Central Americans take for the promise of better life in "el Norte."

For more information about the issues raised in the segment La Otra Frontera: The Other Border, see the following books and articles.
(Note: this is not intended as a complete list. Check back for more recommendations.)

Dellios, Hugh: "Seeking the train of death," Chicago Tribune, March 12, 2004.

Quinones, Sam: "Emigration brings dollars home but leaves Mexican town behind," San Francisco Chronicle, February 9, 2004.

"Mexico's immigration problem," The Economist, January 29, 2004.

Correspondent Franc Contreras

Grayson, George: "Mexico's Forgotten Southern Border: Does Mexico practice at home what it preaches abroad?" Center for Immigration Studies, July 2002.

Grayson, George: "Mexico Alert: Mexico's Southern Flank: A Crime-ridden "Third U.S. Border," Center for Strategic and Immigration Studies, December 22, 2003

Produced by GraciasVida Media Center, the independent journalism resource for Latin America.

For more information, contact:
Producer Maria Martin email:
or telephone: 415.670.9717

Funded by
The Corporation for Public Broadcasting
and the Fund for Investigative Journalism.

© Maria Martin

Photo at top left © Donna DeCesare