2018 Photo Contest, Long-Term Projects, 3rd prize



Javier Arcenillas

06 January, 2016

Street graffito commemorating a girl abused by a pedophile priest, on the Boulevard de los Héroes, San Salvador, El Salvador.

After years of experiencing social chaos, drugs trafficking and political corruption, many Latin Americans are determined to resist the violence afflicting their homelands. Armed conflict and socio-economic collapse in a number of Latin American countries in the latter part of the 20th century forcibly displaced hundreds of thousands of people, both to neighboring states and northwards to the US. Stricter US policies in the mid-1990s led to the deportation of members of maras, Hispanic gangs formed on the streets of cities such as Los Angeles, and fueled gang warfare across Latin America. This, and violence associated with both the drugs trade and the so-called War on Drugs, has led to a number of Latin American cities ranking with the most violent in the world outside of a conflict zone.

This project describes the fear, anger and impotence of victims amidst the daily terror of street gangs, murder and thievery in Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala and Colombia. The photographer wanted to document the heart of uncontrolled violence in Latin America, and the social and political factors that aggressively reinforce that violence, as well as the determination to end it.

About the photographer

Javier Arcenillas

He is a humanist and psychologist at the Complutense University of Madrid. Arcenillas’ work has been published in Time, CNN, IL Magazine, Leica Magazine, Der Spiegel, Stern, GEO...

Technical information

Shutter Speed
Focal length
24.0 mm

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