IV-"Enrique's Journey" - Sonia Nazario - Los Angeles Times

IV-"Enrique's Journey" - Sonia Nazario - Los Angeles Times

Inspired by Faith, the Poor Rush Forth to Offer Food

by: Sonia Nazario, Don Bartletti | publication date: October 4, 2002 | Publication: Los Angeles Times | pages: A1

From the top of his rolling freight car, Enrique sees a figure of Christ. In the fields of Veracruz state, among farmers and their donkeys piled with sugar cane, rises a mountain. It towers over the train he is riding. At the summit stands a statue of Jesus. It is 60 feet tall, dressed in white, with a pink tunic. The statue stretches out both arms. They reach toward Enrique and his fellow wayfarers on top of their rolling freight cars. Some stare silently. Others whisper a prayer. It is early April 2000, and they have made it nearly a third of the way up the length of Mexico, a handful of immigrants, riding on boxcars, tank cars and hoppers. Enrique is 17. He is one of an estimated 48,000 Central American and Mexican children who go to the United States alone every year. Many are searching for their mothers, who have left for El Norte to find work and never come back. Many credit religious faith for their progress. They pray on top of the train cars. At stops, they kneel along the tracks, asking God for help and guidance. They ask him to keep them alive until they reach El Norte. They ask him to protect them against bandits, who rob and beat them; police, who shake them down; and la migra, the Mexican immigration authorities, who deport them.

The fourth article in the series examines the role of religion for Enrique and those who make similar journeys to his, through Mexico to the United States.

Los Angeles Times