To ride El tren de la muerte – the fatality train – throughout Mexico isn’t straightforward. But what alternative did I have?


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Lurvy Elisa Ramírez: ‘Violent gangs were demanding defense money from people like me eincredibly week.’ Photograph: Léo Coulongeat/Erisphere
Lurvy Elisa Ramírez: ‘Violent gangs were demanding security money from world like me eexceptionally week.’ Photograph: Léo Coulongeat/Erisphere

I had spent my life – 44 years – in Tegucigalpa, the capital of Honduras. Everything was there: my husband also, our kids, the street-side food stall that I own and also have run for years.

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It wasn’t a straightforward decision to leave, but my country has actually descended right into anarchy. The maras (violent gangs) were demanding protection money from world favor me eexceptionally week. Young gang members, the same age as my teenage boy, would involved take what I couldn’t afford. We essential to acquire out.

I made the decision to join my siblings in the Mexideserve to city of Monterrey. I’d go alone at first, and as soon as I was settled my household would certainly join me. At least, that was the setup.

In September 2019, I left for Chiapas on Mexico’s southerly border, yet after two months tbelow, my application for asylum in Mexico had made no progress. I was lonely, had no money, and also a male I feared to be a gang member had started to follow me. Despeprice, I made a decision it was time to speak waiting and also instead capture El tren de la muerte – the fatality train. People looking to travel north jump aboard these notoriously dangerous cargo trains as they snake with Mexico to the border with the United States.

Riding the train isn’t straightforward. I’d heard stories of people dying as they clambered aboard their roofs, or crammed on to the small platforms that attach the carriages, which stretch out as much as the eye can check out. But what option did I have?

Chiapas is wright here the line starts, but you’ve obtained to be ready to decomponent at any time; there’s no set schedule. I nervously waited in a park nearby. My tiny backload was filled only with water, bread and also a change of clothes: you need to be nimble. At 3pm we heard a whistle, our signal. I prayed as I, and about a thousand also others, ran in the direction of the train.

It took three days and also nights of holding on, squaburned tightly through a stranger on the small platforms, to arrive in Coatzacoalcos, our first speak. Tbelow wasn’t a lot time until our next exit, however my brand-new friends and also I were hungry. We stood on a bridge and also ate, listening out for the whistle. When it came, though, La Migra (immigration police) stood by our train grabbing human being. We made a decision to climb aboard one more train farther down the line. It would be much even more dangerous – we would need to board while it was still relocating.

As shortly as our route was clear, we rumelted in the direction of the train, its speed rapidly boosting. Everyone was scrambling to make it up, bumping right into each other, desperately clinging on. I passed up my rucksack to a boy I recognised from the last leg and also made a jump for it. That’s when I dropped.


I woke up on the floor, puzzled and also in pain. A crowd had gathered, however I had actually no principle what was going on. It took an hour for an ambulance to arrive, and also in that time I tried as finest I might to avoid looking dvery own at my body. I knew somepoint was wrong but I wasn’t prepared to view it. Migrants and also Mexicans aprefer tried to cheer me up as I waited, however I simply prayed through the panic. The next thing I remember is waking up in hospital after having actually had an operation: both my legs had actually been amputated.

Sedated, I asked the nurse to contact my sister in Monterrey to define what had actually happened: the train had run me over, and my legs were instantly cruburned. A day or 2 later on she landed on my bedside, looked me up and also down, and began to smile. She hugged me and also whispered: “You’re alive right here via us, that’s what matters. You might not have actually your little feet, yet we still have you.”

I’ve invested the last three months in a recoexceptionally residence in Coatzacoalcos, healing, discovering and also adjusting. My boy has actually come to support me, and I hope my various other youngsters will shortly follow him here to research. In March, my husband also died in an accident which indicates, despite every little thing, I’ll have to fight twice as tough. I want to start a YouTube channel to assist people who’ve gone via what I have. I need assist to obtain a great pair of prosthetics – at the minute I still can’t walk. Since of Covid-19, my support from Médecins Sans Frontières is taking place using phone.

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I don’t know how conveniently I’ll recover, or if I’ll ever before acquire my records. But I still hope that at some point, God permitting, I’ll make it to Monterrey to be with my household.