A work in progress..

It has been praised as being the city of the future. It is also the most violent city in the world. While its economy rockets from the maquiladora (factory) trade, it also attracts the poorest of the poor in search of a better life. And for the same reason that the Maquilas find its geographic location on the USA border idea for trade, so does the drug trafficking industry.

Over the last few years Ciudad Juarez has become the biggest drug trafficking route in the world with one of the highest levels of violence recorded in a city, ironically, this is found only a steel fence away from El Paso, Texas, which is noted as being the second safest city in the USA for its size. This city has spent much time on the front pages of newspapers with horrific tales of assassinations, public views of mutilations, femicides, and crime.

I have had the priviledge of being able to travel to the border region sporadically since 2008, and the more time I spend there, the more entrenched I become in wanting to understand the underbelly of this society. It has become clear to me that there is far more to this city than what one reads in the papers. I have started documenting the stories that do not make it onto the front pages of papers. I am very interested in sense of community, the people who choose to call the most violent city in the world ‘home’. I am interested in the ordinary – and more so the extra-ordinary I find in the people that I would normally not give a second glance. To date, this has been my impression of Juarez: The most extraordinary lies behind the most unexpecting facades. Hero’s dress in plain clothes, assassins are school children, heroine dens hide behind beautiful shop fronts. With less emphasis on the gore that stains the impression of Juarez, I want to find the underlying mechanics of this city and the symbiosis of how the industry of crime and livelihood of community function side by side .

 

A boy looks at a patrol helicopter flying over the border of El Paso and Ciudad Juarez.

A man waits for his heroine fix in a shooting gallery in the center of town.  Men take turns in sourcing cash for the addictions, while the others rest and wait for their next fix to arrive.

 

A man shows off his scars, 10 minutes after using heroine. His parents tried to admit him into a rehabilitation clinic, and in rebelling he swallowed nails which punctured his intestines.

 

A woman exchanges used heroine needles for clean ones in her home in Ciudad Juarez. Needle exchange is vital to prevent the spreading of blood borne diseases.

 

A man overdoses on heroine while another addict spikes up. The woman who runs the shooting gallery sees to him. After injecting him with a salt injection and giving CPR they managed to revive him.

 

In the home of an elderly heroine dealer.

 

The military and police have been called in to Ciudad Juarez to calm the situation in the city. Many argue their presence as there have been many accounts of corruption and bribery.The number of civilian murders have also increased dramatically with the military’s shoot to kill policy.

 

Transgender red light district. Juarez also use to be home to one of the biggest transgender cabaret clubs in the country, but it was closed down after the owner was murdered. Now struggling to find work many have turned to prostitution. They face regular discrimination and abuse from police and members of the community.

 

An abandoned living complex on the outskirts of the city. Many complexes like this have been set up for workers at maquiladoras. But due to the drug related violence many maquilas have closed down. This has left a number of ‘ghost towns’ with over 300 000 people having left the city in recent years

 

A man receives an IV drip to treat his tuberculosis. There is a lack of rescources in the hospital, so a donation of teddy bears to the pediatric unit are used as pillows.

 

A woman embraces her husband who was left paralyzed after a work  related injury. He was sole breadwinner, now the family is dependant on donations from their church to keep them alive

 

A HIV positive man receives dental care at a CAPASIT clinic. This clinic was established to care for the needs of people living with HIV (PLHIV) due to the high rates of stigma in the society. Many doctors and dentists refuse to treat PLHIV. Drug addiction and prostitution that are common on the border are major factors in the increasing amount for HIV in the region.

 

Three health and social justice activists visit the grave of a boy (9yrs) who devoted his life to fighting for TB/HIV rights

 

A man with TB and schizophrenia is visited by a health worker in his home. He convinces the man to take his treatment by offering him biscuits on completion.

 

The border dividing Mexico and the USA. It was made from left over runway strips used in Iraq.