Riding the Beast, a perilous train journey undertaken by migrants, carries a weight of immense risk and uncertainty. For those desperate to escape poverty, violence, or persecution in their home countries, this treacherous path becomes a glimmer of hope. Clinging onto the tops of freight trains, migrants endure unimaginable hardships, facing dangers that lurk at every turn.
The journey is a battle against nature's elements and the very infrastructure they cling to becomes an adversary, with low-hanging bridges and tunnels and the constant threat of falling off the moving trains, that can abruptly end their journey and their lives. In their pursuit of a better life, they encounter organise criminals who prey on their vulnerability, subjecting them to extortion, kidnapping, and sexual exploitation. The constant fear of immigration authorities intensifies their anxiety, as checkpoints and raids add an element of uncertainty to their already perilous journey.
Populism and far-right movements have portrayed migration in a highly negative and divisive manner, employing rhetoric that fuels fear, xenophobia, and the notion of an existential threat to national identity. They exploit the fear of the “other" often painting migrants as criminals, job stealers, or cultural invaders. In addition, Media outlets, driven by the pursuit of ratings and sensationalism, often perpetuate those stereotypes fail to acknowledge the diversity, resilience, and contributions that migrants bring to their new communities.
The risk of riding the Beast serves as a stark reminder of the injustices that drive people to undertake such a dangerous endeavor. It calls for a compassionate response, addressing the root causes of migration and creating safer, more accessible pathways for those seeking a better life. As we contemplate the perils they face, it is essential to foster empathy and understanding, recognizing that behind each migrant is a unique story of hope, struggle, and the unwavering human pursuit of a life lived in dignity.