Skip to main content
Open Access Publications from the University of California


UCLA Electronic Theses and Dissertations bannerUCLA

Las Patronas in the Path of Migrants: A Counter-Infrastructure of Care


The network of Mexican freight trains known as “La Bestia” has been, since the early 1990s, the primary infrastructure used by undocumented Central American migrants to traverse Mexico and reach the United States-Mexico border. These trains constitute the cheapest and fastest way of crossing the country and allow migrants to avoid immigration checkpoints and the payment of high fees to human smugglers. As a response to the hazardous effects of using this infrastructure (such as starvation, assaults, injuries, or death), in 1995 a group of women named “Las Patronas” started providing food and other types of support to migrants traveling on top of the trains. This research examines the group’s role in supporting migrants and challenging border enforcement and the haunting of migrants through La Bestia. I develop the concept of ‘counter-infrastructure of care’ to refer to the Patronas’ autonomous and participatory provision of safety and security for migrants, which is based on collaboration, conflict resolution, solidarity, attention to emotions and to the embodiment of geopolitical processes and is in direct opposition to the imperial, masculine, and necropolitical logics of La Bestia. This thesis contributes to the literature on feminist geopolitics by stressing the relevance of including geographical analyses of infrastructures in discussions about migration and geopolitics.

Main Content
For improved accessibility of PDF content, download the file to your device.
Current View