TOKYO-2017 Book / Documentary

Running to Nowhere : The Central American Refugee Crisis

  • Prize
    Bronze in Book/Documentary
  • Photographer
    Christina Simons

Central American migrants have been making the perilous journey through Central America and Mexico for over 20 years. It has become an old refugee story, but remains very real and fraught with danger to this day. The journey across borders is made by various means, including on a giant freight train called “La Bestia” (the beast). The environmental hazards of dehydration, food and water contamination, sunburn and disease, as well as the physical dangers of the trains, all come second to the risk of theft, beatings, rape, torture, violence, kidnapping, mutilation, and murder. Why would anyone want to risk such dangers? In short: their own countries are burdened with even more violence and poverty than they risk trying to get to the United States. The ‘Mara’ gangs originated on the streets of Los Angeles in the 1980s. Having fled from civil wars in Honduras and El Salvador, many joined either the Mara Salvatrucha (MS13) or Calle 18 (M18) street gangs. In the 90s, the US government began deporting MS13 and M18 members back to their respective countries. Now, 20 years later, these relocated ‘Maras’ are running poverty-stricken Honduras and El Salvador into even more desperate circumstances. Hundreds of thousands of people have fled their homes in Central America with the hopes for a better and safer life risking their lives again to get there.