Injured Central American migrants granted passage to Mexico City

Injured Central American migrants granted passage to Mexico City
Wilfredo Filiu, 46, left, Jose Luis Hernandez, 28, and Benito Murillo, 43, center, are members of the Assn. of Returned Migrants with Disabilities. All three men lost limbs after being run over by the freight train known as La Bestia -- the Beast. (Richard Fausset / Los Angeles Times)

A group of Honduran men who lost limbs during their transit through Mexico on the train known as La Bestia (the Beast) have been granted permission to travel to the Mexican capital to protest the treatment of migrants bound for the U.S., the group's president said Saturday.

The men had entered Mexico illegally through Guatemala in late March. They had been asking the Mexican government to let them travel to Mexico City with letters that would instruct immigration officials not to deport them during that journey.

The men, all of whom have lost legs, arms or fingers, have made headlines in Mexico with their demand that President Enrique Peña Nieto meet with them, and consider their request that the Mexican government grant all U.S.-bound Central American migrants unimpeded passage through Mexico.

Without fear of detention on the major northbound freeways, the men argue, unauthorized migrants would be less likely to try to sneak across the country on the roof of the train, where they are often subject to extortion, rape, kidnapping, slaying and common falls that often result in amputation or death.

In a cellphone conversation Saturday morning, Jose Luis Hernandez, president of the  Assn. of Returned Migrants With Disabilities, said that he and his 14 fellow travelers were in the town of Arriaga, in Mexico's Chiapas state. For a number of days, the men had assumed that they would not receive the permission letters from the Mexican government, and were prepared to get to Mexico City on the train that had mangled them.

But recently, Hernandez said, the group learned that the Mexican government had decided to grant them the permission letters they needed. (The Mexican news service Milenio reported Saturday that a representative of Mexico's national immigration department would be delivering the documents.)

Their original plan was to use the letters to go to the capital the way normal travelers do: By bus.

But Hernandez said that the group had no money for tickets – and so, he said, they would ride to Mexico City on the back of the Beast anyway.

Twitter: @RichardFausset