Mexico on Friday said that it will invest more than 6 billion pesos (US$454.25 million) to triple the speed of a train, known as “La Bestia,” to make it harder for Central American migrants to jump on board as they trek to the US.
The Chiapas-Mayab railroad begins in the southern Mexican state of Chiapas, and connects with a network of rail freight trains that head north. For years, Central American migrants headed for the US have used “La Bestia,” or “The Beast,” to travel cheaply through Mexico.
However, a surge in child migrants arriving at the US border with Mexico this year has led the US to put pressure on Mexico to tackle the ease with which many Central Americans board the notoriously dangerous train, where rape and death are commonplace.
Nearly 63,000 unaccompanied children have arrived at the US border in a year-long surge that has sparked an intense political debate and left US President Barack Obama’s administration grappling for ways to handle the influx and stem the flow of children and families trying to get into the country.
The Mexican government has recently begun cracking down on “La Bestia,” staging late-night migration busts in the town of Arriaga in Chiapas, where many of the Central American migrants first jump on board.
Announcing the investment in the train line, the Mexican Ministry of Telecommunications and Transport said in a statement that money would be spent over the next five years, with 1.21 billion pesos spent this year alone, and the speed of the train would be tripled by 2018.
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