L upita is in her 30s and works as a laundry maid in several houses in Mexico City. She can still remember the first time she saw a girl taken from her home village. She was 11 years old. Lupita was 20 when five men drove into the small community near Dos Bocas, outside the port of Veracruz. They wanted to know where the pretty one was, the girl with freckles. We all knew who that was.
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Nineteen years ago, the Romero Vazquez sisters were standing at the side of the railway tracks with their grocery bags, waiting to cross. Then another group passed by and shouted the same thing: 'Madre, we're hungry'. That simple, instinctive act of kindness by the young girls was to lead to the creation of Las Patronas, a charitable organisation which has helped tens of thousands of Central American migrants over the past two decades and which was awarded Mexico's most prestigious human rights prize last year. The village of La Patrona lies in an otherwise forgettable corner of the eastern state of Veracruz. Long freight trains clatter through the village two or three times a day. Often, migrants from Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador and Nicaragua sit on the roof of the trains heading north to the United States in search of work. When the sisters returned home that fateful day, they expected to be punished by their mother for giving away the family's breakfast.
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Today, the state is famous for its beautiful beaches and Carnaval, an annual celebration featuring music, dance and spectacular parades. Early History During the pre-Hispanic period, the region that now constitutes modern-day Veracruz was inhabited by four indigenous cultures. Several important Olmec sites are situated along rivers on the coastal plain in Veracruz. They include San Lorenzo B. At their peak, these three settlements were probably the most complex ceremonial sites found in Mesoamerica; however, by B.
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