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Portrait. A Hero of Our Time

Contaminated сolors

Series
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April 30th, 2019, Espinar, Cusco Region, Peru. A portrait of LEMUEL LLERZON HILACHOQUE, 9 years old. Lemuel was born near the mine, suffering from birth defects. He is deaf in one ear. His family does not have money to pay for his medical care.
April 30th, 2019, Espinar, Cusco Region, Peru. Portrait of FRANK ALTAMARI, 15 years old.
Frank was born 500 meters from the extraction site. He has mental and physical disabilities. According to his father, Don Teofilo Altamari, it is a consequence of the contamination of water and soil by the mine.
May 1st, 2019, Espinar, Cusco Region, Peru. A portrait of MARIA USCA CARRILLO, 60 years old. Maria said that the construction of the mine began when she was 16. The company misled local residents, who at first were supportive of the project. After years of unfulfilled promises, pollution, and the expropriation of property, locals are tired, discouraged, and demanding justice.
April 29th, 2019, Espinar, Cusco Region, Peru. A portrait of MELCHORA CCAMAQE USCA, 63 years old. Melchora says the mining company fraudulently acquired her property, deceiving her and her family with false documents and promises that have not been honored. The problems with the mining company began in 1982 and Melchora is still hoping the situation will change for the better.
May 1st, 2019, Espinar, Cusco Region, Peru. A portrait of HILDA LUNA, 56 years old. Hilda belongs to the Israelites religious community. She finds solace in religion, placing her hopes and trust for the future in it. Thanks to her religion, she feels like a member of a community, where people listen and help when problems arise.
April 28th, 2019, Espinar, Cusco Region, Peru. Portrait of ALBERTO HUALLPA SALCEDO, 30 years old. Alberto was injured by the mining company’s security guards during protests in 2012. Peaceful protests against the mining company known as “ Espinar se llevanta” were organized by members of Espinar’s indigenous population who were demanding that their rights be respected. Alberto is still waiting for medical assistance and his compensation for his injuries.
May 1st, 2019, Espinar, Cusco Region, Peru. Portrait of GREGORIA CHARCA CORDOVA, 56 years old. The mining company illegally appropriated property belonging to Gregoria and her husband in Juani community. They moved to Espinar to work and when they returned home, the mining company owned their property.
April 30th, 2019, Espinar, Cusco Region, Peru. Portrait of ROFINO CHAMBI, 67 years old. Rofino has lived in Tintaya Marquiri for 45 years. He and his family were living near the mine until the company took their land and house to build a slag heap on the site. His wife died of cancer. They had no money for her medical treatment. Rofino is still waiting to be paid for the land and house taken by the mine.
April 27th, 2019, Espinar, Cusco Region, Peru. Portrait of LEONARDO LABRA, 66 years old. Leonardo’s lungs have been damaged by the fine powder released during the extraction process at the mine. Despite the fact that he has reported the situation in Espinar to the police and government delegates, nobody wants to investigate. There are no health care facilities to take care of people after a high level of heavy metals is detected in their bodies.
April 30th, 2019, Espinar, Cusco Region, Peru. Portrait of SERGIO HUAMANI HILARIO, 44 years old. Sergio is the leader of the Frente Único de Defensa de los Intereses de Espinar (FUDIE). The organization aims to improve the living conditions of the local residents in Espinar. He highlights the gravity of the pollution problem in the area. Because the Peruvian government and local authorities will not listen to the local people, a few years ago FUDIE filed a complaint against Glencore in a London court but, still, nothing has changed.

The series of portraits shot in Espinar district, near the huge Tintaya and Antapaccay copper mine complex, tells the story of Peruvian people affected by environmental pollution caused by the mining. The colored backgrounds represent their feeling of hope. In last few years, mineral extraction has become a backbone of the economy, replacing the agricultural economy in local communities. At the same time, the rights of the indigenous population have been violated. Malnutrition and contaminated resources affect people’s health, and many children are born with mental and physical disabilities. However, there is no health care system to help them. The Peruvian Constitution stipulates respect for the territories and cultural identities of these communities, but this is not complied with, leading to violent suppression of social protest by the police. Land exploitation is a common problem in Latin America and it shows how a new form of colonialism is creating profit by spoiling local communities.

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