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Las Patronas

Joseph Sorrentino | Veracruz, Mexico

Rosa preparing food.

Las Patronas, a group of women in La Patrona, Veracruz, have been handing out food and water to Central American refugees riding La Bestia (as the cargo trains are called) for 20 years. Until recently, hundreds of refugees would be clinging to the tops of train cars or riding between them. As they approached the train crossing in La Patrona, they’d climb down and, hanging on with one hand, reach out for the food and water the women were holding out. Las Patronas met as many as three trains a day. But in 2014, under pressure, and with funding, from the U.S., Mexico enacted Programa Frontera Sur (Southern Border Program), a program that has prevented refugees from riding trains north. The majority of trains now pass through La Patrona empty as people are literally walking through Mexico to reach the U.S. Las Patronas still meet every train but have also opened a small shelter that houses a dozen or so refugees who can rest for a few days before continuing their journey to the US.

I spent two weeks in both 2012 and 2015 documenting the work of Las Patronas and was amazed by what they do. The women are there every day, for 10 to 12 hours, helping refugees in any way they can. Perhaps the most amazing thing is that these women are all volunteers. They're an inspiration.

Email: joso1444@usa.net

Website: www.sorrentinophotography.com

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