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As Migration Pattern Changes, Mexico's 'Las Patronas' Adjust Methods of Service

Catholic News Service
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February 22, 2015

Patron Saints of The Beast (GlobalPost)

Norma Romero Vasquez watched a freight train roll by her residence on a recent Saturday, and she checked to see if any migrants were perched on top.

"There's one," she yelled, motioning for a friend farther up the line to pass food and drink to the lone rider.

The migrant, sunburned and wearing shorts and a hoodie, grabbed the bagged lunch with an outstretched hand. He was the only one to pass that day.

It's drastic decline from six months earlier, when hundreds of Central Americans huddled aboard northbound trains in attempts to reach the U.S. border. Nowadays, "They're mostly arriving on foot," said Romero, whose team of 14 women, known as "Las Patronas," still serve them and even offer a spot to sleep.

For 20 years, Las Patronas have tossed meals to migrants riding atop trains passing through their hamlet of cane and coffee farmers in Veracruz state, 175 miles southeast of Mexico City.

Las Patronas named themselves for their hometown - La Patrona - and Our Lady of Guadalupe, the national patroness. The women started out with scant resources, but their work has won national awards and international attention. Their work also has contributed to changes in attitudes toward migrants in Mexico, where people have not always welcomed their southern neighbors, despite the fact that the country sends so many its own citizens to the United States.

Read the rest at Catholic Sentinel

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