Thousands of people every year travel as irregular migrants across Mexico. They carry with them the hope of a new life in the USA and an escape from the grinding poverty and insecurity back home.
Most irregular migrants are from Central America and many start the perilous Mexican passage of their journey by crossing into the border states of Chiapas or Tabasco from Guatemala.
Those that reach the US border will have survived a journey fraught with dangers. Thousands will fall victim to beatings, abduction, rape or even murder along the way, their lives and deaths largely hidden from view. Many of their stories will never be told.
Criminal gangs are responsible for the vast majority of crimes against irregular migrants, but there is evidence that officials at various levels are complicit in these crimes.
Many Mexicans living along the migrants' travel routes provide temporary humanitarian assistance to migrants in danger. The chain of shelters run by the Catholic Church offers temporary respite to some of those exhausted by or injured on the journey. This solidarity with migrants has sometimes provoked attacks and harassment against those trying to help.
Human rights abuses against Mexican migrants in the USA attract a great deal of public concern, and rightly so. Public outrage over the crisis facing migrants in Mexico, on the other hand, has been much more muted. However, the voices of Mexico's irregular migrants are at last beginning to make themselves heard.
Image: Migrant jumping from one wagon to the next in Arriaga, Chiapas state, southern Mexico, June 2009. Copyright: Hauke Lorenz