Denis Vejas

Stories Direction North 2013 - 2015
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The way North
Denis Vejas
2013 - 2019 Mexico

The way North is my long-term project, documenting the journey of migrants from Central America
on their way through Mexico to the US.
There are no accurate estimates of the numbers of migrants who enter Mexico from Central America without documents, however, it is estimated by civil rights organizations that the number might be up to 400 thousand a year.
Most of them are trying to escape violence in their homelands, and hoping to start a new life in the USA.
The 2400 kilometers journey from south to north may take up to three months and holds risks of various kinds for undocumented migrants. Even though most immigrants are poor they became a
business for organized crime groups, controlling the routes.
Before the migrants even reach the border they have to pass the cartels.
Along the way, many of these men, women, and children are facing assaults, robbery, and abduction.
Tragically, some migrants are even being killed on the way. Four out of ten travelers suffer abuse on the way.

During my first visit to Mexico in 2013, I have decided to hop on a cargo train in the northern state
of Sinaloa to enjoy the Copper Canyon.
At that time I didn’t know much about the migrational routes, but after sharing a night on the train
with people who were taking this train for very different reasons than me, I have decided to document their journey. Since then I have been documenting different parts of these routes.
There are various ways to reach the border. Once the Mexican government made it almost impossible to board the trains in 2015, by putting more migration check-points on train stations, the
journey became even more dangerous. In order to navigate between migration authorities and the gangs, collecting tolls on the road, the migrants have to walk long distances on foot or pay truck
drivers for the rides.
The only safe spaces on the way are the numerous refugee shelters, usually run by NGO’s and
human rights organizations. Those asylums are providing immigrants with food, shower, and information about their legal rights.
While working on these series, I have been spending nights in the train stations, volunteering in the
refugee’s shelters, and finally documenting the wall in Tijuana, which, for me, poses a certain kind
of symbolism at the end of the road.
With these images I wanted to capture the stills of everyday realities, that these people have to go through, risking everything and having hope as the only guarantee for success.

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