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Las Patronas and the immigrants

For fifteen years, a group of Mexican peasants has been feeding immigrants who cling to the freight trains that pass in front of their fields. Every time that one passes through, Las Patronas - the name of the group which comes from the village La Patrona the Vergine of Guadalupe, of the commune of Amatlán de los Reyes, in Veracruz - throw plastic bags with food and water bottles to the immigrants, who very often, exhausted through dehydration, are swept away and maimed by the cars. The gesture of these women - who have to fight not only the opposition of the traffickers, but also that of their families and their neighbours – is that of a concrete way to practice their Catholic faith and to serve Jesus in their brothers and sisters. A meeting at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome on the 13th May 2014 was dedicated to them.

Fortunately, however, Las Patronas - that in 2013 received the Mexican National Prize for Human Rights - are not alone: along the route of this train, nicknamed The Beast, a network of service centres founded by religious people, diocesan priests and lay people, to help the immigrants, mostly Hondurans, adolescents exhausted from the journey, raped women, adults stabbed by traffickers or maimed by the train. There are around 400,000 people each year who pass through Mexico looking for a job or to be reunited with family members in the United States or in the north of the country. Amongst these, there are more than 20,000 who are kidnapped by traffickers, tortured and raped because the gangs want to force everyone to use their "services" instead of travelling "free" on freight trains. Mexico, which continues to be conceived as a country of emigration, is struggling to accommodate immigration. However fortunately since 2011 it is no longer a crime to offer humanitarian assistance to illegal immigrants.




St. Peter’s Square

Jan. 27, 2020