Portraits of migrants

The photographs were taken in Mexico in 2016 during the filming of the documentary "The migrant's homeland" and were the result of an investigation into the social phenomenon of Central American migration to the United States.

They were taken in the towns of Monterrey in the State of Nuevo León and Saltillo in the State of Coahuila. They are portraits of Central American migrants who must overcome all kinds of difficulties in order to cross Mexican territory and reach the United States; they are subjected to harassment by drug cartels, common delinquency and often also by the police authorities themselves. Most of the time, migrants make their journey to the border on the freight train they call "La Bestia" (The Beast), in which it is very difficult to survive.

Throughout the country there are different organizations that provide temporary shelter to migrants who are passing through, they are called "Migrant homes", where they can rest, feed and protect themselves for a few days while they recover their strength and continue their journey. During this period the present photographic portraits were taken and also the interviews for the audiovisual documentary.

Rodrigo Torres Barriga

Economic inequality, rural poverty, significantly lower wages and recurring drought have played a major factor in the 20th century for the Central Americans to migrate to the USA for better opportunities.

Most people who migrate from Central America into the USA, are from lower class background, dealing with a crisis of extreme violence, high homicidal rate, social insecurity, lack of opportunity and a join or die gang recruitment policy , which has made it impossible for the innocent youth of these countries to survive a normal life.

Local Businesses in these countries face constant threat of extortion while the corrupt and inadequate policies fail to protect them.

Rodrigo's intriguing series of portraits of a few of the migrants of Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala and Nicaragua is a poignant reminder of a stark reality between the people of these nations. Looking at each character, there is a visible evidence of struggle and despair, a feeling of uncertainty, yet an uncanny unknown hope in those glimmering eyes, regardless of gender and age.

Through the expressiveness yet simplicity of treatment with each portrait which represents a unique character of every migrant with the sensitivity of a highly credible story teller, Rodrigo through his lens creates that extreme curiosity about each character's cultural, social and economic background. As a viewer, one would feel compelled to want to interact and understand more about these migrants, where each and every staring face seems to be trying to reach out to the viewer and searching for their compassion.

What the future beholds for these people is a hopeful dream of fulfilment for everyone in these images.

Sandeep Biswas