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Riding 'The Beast': Alt.Latino Interviews Salvadoran Journalist Oscar Martinez

IXTEPEC, MEXICO — Thousands of Central American migrants ride trains known as La Bestia (the beast) during their long and perilous journeys north through Mexico to the U.S. border.
John Moore
/
Getty Images
IXTEPEC, MEXICO — Thousands of Central American migrants ride trains known as La Bestia (the beast) during their long and perilous journeys north through Mexico to the U.S. border.
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This week on Alt.Latino we are doing something different. Instead of music, we're offering you a story, or rather the story of hundreds of thousands of people, as recorded by Salvadoran journalist Oscar Martinez.

Salvadoran journalist Oscar Martinez joins us this week to discuss his new book, <em>The Beast.</em>
/ courtesy of the author
/
courtesy of the author
Salvadoran journalist Oscar Martinez joins us this week to discuss his new book, The Beast.

In his new book The Beast, Martinez narrates his eight journeys on top of the freight trains known as La Bestia, on which hundreds of thousands of migrants travel every year across Mexico and up to the U.S. border.

It's a treacherous journey plagued with gang violence, kidnapping, human trafficking, government corruption and the physical dangers inherent in riding for days atop a train. Nonetheless, as Central America is increasingly submerged in drug-related violence, a growing number of Hondurans, Guatemalans, Salvadorans and Nicaraguans are making this infernal trek. Recent research shows a drastic decrease in immigration from Mexico, while immigration from Central America almost doubled between 2011 and 2012.

On Alt.Latino we pride ourselves in being more than just a show about good music: We are a show about Latin culture, society and issues, especially those that don't always get their due. And we felt this was one topic that deserved special attention.

Although this week's show is focused more on the stories than on the music, Martinez did curate a list of songs to go with The Beast, which you can find below.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Jasmine Garsd is an Argentine-American journalist living in New York. She is currently NPR's Criminal Justice correspondent and the host of The Last Cup. She started her career as the co-host of Alt.Latino, an NPR show about Latin music. Throughout her reporting career she's focused extensively on women's issues and immigrant communities in America. She's currently writing a book of stories about women she's met throughout her travels.