Enrique’s Journey by Pulitzer Award-Winning Author Sonia Nazario

When Sonia Nazario began traveling to Central America to tell the stories of children migrating to the United States alone, she found that in most cases they left looking for their mother or father. But as the number of fleeing children started to increase their reasons also began to grow.


Sonia Nazario, author of Enrique’s Journey About the Immigration of Central Americans into the U.S. aboard the “Beast”

“What I saw was a level of violence that honestly just astounded me,” she said about her recent trip to Honduras. “Narcos (drug traffickers) target children. They behead them, they kidnap them, they skin them alive.”

Nazario, an investigative journalist and author, was a guest speaker Thursday at the University of Texas-Pan American’s Festiba series titled Entre Dos Mundos: Uniting Communities Through Arts and Literacy.

She’s best known for her six-part series titled Enrique’s Journey, a story about a Honduran boy’s travels through Mexico atop The Beast, a train known to migrants as La Bestia, to find his mother in the U.S. Nazario decided to mimic the journey about 15 years ago in order to better understand children like Enrique.

Enrique’s Journey by Pulitzer Prize winner Sonia Nazario -Hard Cover Edition – Get it Now!!!

“I started looking at this in 2000, so this is not a new phenomenon,” she said. “I found that there was a small army of children heading north alone, from Mexico and from Central America.”

The series was published by the Los Angeles Times in 2002 and received more than a dozen awards, including a Pulitzer Prize for feature writing. Enrique’s Journey was later turned into a national bestseller book and is now being used in classrooms across the country.

On Thursday, Nazario spoke to a crowd of students and professors about the surge of unaccompanied minors that began in 2012 and is all too familiar for the Rio Grande Valley, where more than 49,000 children were apprehended last year.

Nazario attributes this surge to the increasing movement of drugs through their countries.

As U.S. taxpayers spent about $8 billion in the past eight years to disrupt the flow of cocaine flights coming from Colombia and Venezuela, she said the drug cartels rerouted to Honduras, where now four out of five planes carrying cocaine land.

During her last trip to Honduras, Nazario said an 11-year-old boy named Christian told her he had to leave one way or another after being threatened twice by narcos outside his elementary school. His father had been recently killed by gangs working for the narcos.

Enrique’s Journey by Pulitzer Prize winner Sonia Nazario -Hard Cover Edition – Get it Now!!!

Among the failing measures that the U.S. government has adopted when it comes to immigration, Nazario said one of the most important is the treatment given to these children, who many times face judges on their own and get denied asylum.

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