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Author talks at Lane about ‘Death Train’ - The Torch
Author talks at Lane about ‘Death Train’

Author talks at Lane about ‘Death Train’


Sonia Nazario gave a lecture on immigration in Building 17 at Lane Community College on Dec. 2.
Photo: Travis Holmes


Sonia Nazario gave a lecture on immigration in Building 17 at Lane Community College on Dec. 2.Photo: Travis Holmes

Sonia Nazario gave a lecture on immigration in Building 17 at Lane Community College on Dec. 2.
Photo: Travis Holmes

Travis Holmes

Sonia Nazario saw a pool of blood on the sidewalk when she was walking home with her mother and asked where it came from. Her mother told her that it was the blood of reporters who were trying to tell the truth about what was happening in their country. This is when Nazario decided to become reporter.

On Tuesday Dec. 2 Lane president Mary Spilde introduced Pulitzer winning author and journalist Sonia Nazario to approximately 50 people at Lane Community College.

Nazario told of how she moved from Argentina to the U. S. with her parents. Then, while she was still young, moved back to Argentina after her father died. Nazario said that she lived in Argentina during a time when the military was killing people who were considered a threat.

Later she moved back to the U.S. and attended Williams College in Maine. At age 21 she became the youngest reporter to work at The Wall Street Journal.

One day when talking to her housekeeper, a mother of one, Nazario asked if she planned to have more children. The housekeeper broke down crying and shared her story of how she had to leave her four children behind in Guatemala when she immigrated to the U.S.

That’s how Nazario learned about El tren del la muerte, known in English as “The Death Train,” which is actually a network of trains that travel across South America. She learned of the epic journey people undergo to get to the U.S.

Hoping to reach the U.S., they jump onto moving trains with as much food and water as they can carry. Those with someone to meet them in the U.S. also carry that person’s phone number.

Nazario decided to ride a train herself and report on it. It became the subject of her book “Enrique’s Journey.” She explained that riding the train is illegal and extremely dangerous. In some places, usually cities, gangs board the trains to steal from people. Those who resist are thrown off the trains.

Nazario said that recently there has been a surge in kidnappings on the trains. Conductors are bribed to stop in the middle of nowhere where people can’t get away. She said that immigration officers also steal whatever money or valuables people have and then deport them back to their home country.

However, in some small villages a different story unfolds. When villagers hear a train coming, they run to the tracks with gifts for those onboard. If they can, they give them food. If not, they give tap water, and if they can’t give water they line up beside the tracks and give prayers to the travelers.

Nazario ended her talk by informing the audience about social reform and programs that can be implemented to take care of the people whose stories she tells. “For me I feel that a lot of our problems are because people don’t really understand these big social issues,” Nazario said.

“. . . The solutions that she presented tonight are what stuck with me the most about the us having to make the foreign policies to help Central America” President Pro tempore for student government Mariana Paradones said.

Nazario spoke of her endeavor engage people through talking about important matters in gripping ways. She hopes to inspire others to want to learn more so they can help solve some of these big problems.

“A lot of people look at this from a purely political perspective and forget to look at the humanity of it,” Diego Davis, Lane psychology major graduate, said. He believes that leaving the humanity aspect out shows the priorities of the nation. “What do you value more the humanity of the situation or the politics of the situation . . ?” he said.

The audience gave Nazario a standing ovation at the end of her lecture.Photo: Travis Holmes

The audience gave Nazario a standing ovation at the end of her lecture.
Photo: Travis Holmes