Migration

Migrants photograph perilous journeys to U.S.

 

Pioneering photographer Encarni Pindado founded a project that allows Central American migrants to capture their own perilous journey to the U.S.

More information

Founded by award-winning journalist Grace Aneiza Ali, Of Note features global artists using the arts as tools for social change. It seeks to promote global understanding, bridge cultures and raise awareness of contemporary social issues. www.ofnotemagazine.org


OF NOTE MAGAZINE

Photographer Encarni Pindado has been living and working in Mexico for the past three years, covering social issues with a focus on gender and migration. Journeying alongside migrants and collaborating with shelters, local non-governmental organizations, human rights activists and other journalists, she has gained the trust and access to tell integrated, truthful stories about migration.

Pindado is especially passionate about confronting the issue of violence as experienced by women migrants. While the top forces driving people to leave their homelands are often economic and environmental, for the women she documents, it is violence — whether structural, cultural and/or physical — that shapes both their decision to immigrate and their experiences of migration.

Every year, over 400,000 people cross Mexico’s southern border. That they make this journey northward to Mexico despite the extreme economic costs, physical demands and dangers, gives us some indication of the conditions in their home countries, their vigorous ambition, desire, strength and capacity to dream, and the lure of U.S. living standards. These men and women are profoundly vulnerable to the increasing violence and impunity of Mexico’s narco-trafficking networks.

On what is already a dangerous and arduous route in which people ride atop cargo trains known as La Bestia (The Beast), they are forced to navigate and survive the thriving business that organized crime has made out of migration.

Recently, Pindado has expanded her practice — photographing migrants as well as encouraging them to represent their own experiences of migration.“There is a gap in knowledge about what migrants actually experience, as well as a stigma and misconception about migrants, especially in the communities they have to cross through,” Pindado said.

In July 2013, Encarni founded the participatory photography project MigraZoom in which migrants and members of the local communities are given disposable cameras and free photography workshops to tell their own stories. The United Nations Development Program funded the first phase of the project.

MigraZoom launched at the Mexican-Guatemalan border in Tecun Uman and covered the first 248 miles of the journey north, through Chiapas. The photos reveal personal and intimate views. Migrants photograph in areas simply too dangerous for journalists to cover. In the first leg of the journey, many of the photos express hopefulness and optimism — a sense of adventure and youthful invincibility. While the participants record positive memories, MigraZoom has also heard stories of struggle and loss as these men and women continue towards the U.S.

The images made by migrants and community members who experience migration as part of their daily lives add an essential layer to the visual representation of migration’s complexities. While the MigraZoom photographs are created principally to engage their makers in the process of self-representation, dialogue and exchange, these images are also valuable documents. Like all photographs, they record not simply what is in front of the camera, but also reflect the perspectives of those behind the lens. As global and timeless as the story of migration may be, each photo invites us to encounter a unique story, a particular life, a singular moment and a subjective feeling.

Pelupessy is co-editor of UNFIXED: Photography and Postcolonial Perspectives in Contemporary Art. She wrote this article for OF NOTE magazine.

Read more Issues & Ideas stories from the Miami Herald

  • Holder

    Letter to Ferguson — and the nation

    Since the Aug. 9 shooting death of Michael Brown, the nation and the world have witnessed the unrest that has gripped Ferguson, Mo. At the core of these demonstrations is a demand for answers about the circumstances of this young man’s death and a broader concern about the state of our criminal justice system.

  • Age divide

    Ferguson highlights generational gap

    As the protests intensified in Ferguson last week, young protesters showed a “brazen defiance” that many older protesters couldn’t understand.

  • Fulton

    Letter to Brown family: Hold on to your faith

    I wish I had a word of automatic comfort but I don’t. I wish I could say that it will be alright on a certain or specific day but I can’t. I wish that all of the pain that I have endured could possibly ease some of yours but it won’t. What I can do for you is what has been done for me: pray for you then share my continuing journey as you begin yours.

Miami Herald

Join the
Discussion

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category