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The Beast: Riding the Rails and Dodging Narcos on the Migrant Trail

Friday, December 6, 2013 @ 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm

“The beast is a community that moves in solidarity through the darkest crevices of Mexico,” El Salvadoran journalist Óscar Martínez recently said of the community formed by the thousands of Central American migrants who risk life and limb aboard La Bestia, or The Beast—the rusted out freight trains they ride up through Central America and Mexico to el norte.

Martínez, winner of Mexico’s Fernando Benítez National Journalism Prize and the José Simeón Cañas Central American University Human Rights Prize, will appear at Modern Times for a reading from his new book “The Beast: Riding the Rails and Dodging Narcos on the Migrant Trail,” published by Verso Books.

Modern Times Bookstore
2919 24th St (at Alabama)
San Francisco

One day a few years ago, 300 migrants were kidnapped between the remote desert towns of Altar, Mexico, and Sasabe, Arizona. A local priest got 120 released, many with broken ankles and other marks of abuse, but the rest vanished. oscar Martinez, a young writer from El Salvador, was in Altar soon after the abduction, and his account of the migrant disappearances is only one of the harrowing stories he garnered from two years spent traveling up and down the migrant trail from Central America and across the US border. More than a quarter of a million Central Americans make this increasingly dangerous journey each year, and each year as many as 20,000 of them are kidnapped.

Martinez writes in powerful, unforgettable prose about clinging to the tops of freight trains; finding respite, work and hardship in shelters and brothels; and riding shotgun with the border patrol. Illustrated with stunning full-color photographs, “The Beast “is the first book to shed light on the harsh new reality of the migrant trail in the age of the “narcotraficantes.”


“A courageous book … extraordinary.” – THE ECONOMIST

“A heartbreaking book about the world’s most invisible people. A revelatory work of love and hair-raising courage.” – ALMA GUILLERMOPRIETO, Latin America correspondent for the New York Review of Books, author of Dancing with Cuba

“The Beast is a powerful, necessary book, one of the finest pieces of journalism to emerge from Latin America in years.” – DANIEL ALARCÓN, author of At Night We Walk in Circles

“One of Latin America’s most admirable new talents.” – JON LEE ANDERSON, staff reporter for the New Yorker

ÓSCAR MARTÍNEZ writes for ElFaro.net, the first online newspaper in Latin America. The original edition of his book Los migrantes que no importan was published in 2010 by Icaria and El Faro, with a second edition by Mexico’s sur+ Ediciones in 2012. Martínez is currently writing chronicles and articles for El Faro’s project Sala Negra, investigating gang violence in Latin America.


Friday, December 6, 2013
7:00 pm - 9:00 pm


Modern Times Bookstore Collective
2919 24th Street, San Francisco, CA 94110 United States


Modern Times Bookstore Collective