“Bound to El Norte”, Enrique’s Journey, by Don Bartletti (Los Angeles Times)
If you are living in San Diego (California, USA) or will be visiting the city before January 14th, you must do yourself a favour. Go and see the photographic exhibition, The Roads Most Travelled, by award winning photographer Don Bartletti (Los Angeles Times) at the MOPA in Balboa Park.
This is one of the best pieces of photojournalism I have ever seen, including images that won the Pulitzer Price and UNICEF picture of the year in 2003 . Really impressive work that gives you a human perspective of immigration across the Mexican-USA border. You can see some of the images here and here.
I promise you that the exhibit has many more impressive pictures from the work that Dan Bartletti has done over the years to cover the issue of migration. You can watch a video interview of Don Bartletti here. You can read interesting interviews to Dan Bartletti here and here.
In times when people are debating how to handle illegal immigration, Don Bartletti’s images provide a human perspective of this complex issue. These are people that decide to leave their lives behind, take a very dangerous trip across central America and look for the hope of a new beginning in the USA.
Enrique is five when his mother leaves him. She wants to go to the US to earn money. Eleven years long the boy in Honduras waits for her return. Then he sets out to look for her, alone, with no money, his life in danger. An odyssey of over 19.000 kilometers begins, riding on top of northbound freight trains. The boy endures hunger, is chased by police and by bandits. Enrique is one of thousands of children who take off every year from Central America to head up north. Only a few are lucky. Many keep trying again and again.
The Roads Most Traveled visually examines the live of migratory workers in search of economic survival. The exhibition tracks the migration of individuals from Mexico and Central America to the U.S., Kenya to Italy, the Philippines to Japan, and Pakistan to Afghanistan through 97 images by photojournalist Don Bartletti. Bartletti lives with his subjects as he records their lives, providing a rare view into their daily conditions and concerns.
The exhibition includes photographs from the “Enrique’s Journey” series, originally published by the Los Angeles Times , for which Bartletti won the 2003 Pulitzer Prize for feature photography. The story has been published in a book describing the journey of Enrique in search of his mother living in the USA.
Enrique, just a boy, loses his mother and sets out on a perilous journey to find her. In the vast movement of people from Central America and Mexico, Enrique is one of 48,000 children who come to the United States alone each year. Many are looking for their mothers, who went north seeking work.
“I saw one kid get knocked clean off the train. Among stowaways, the train through the Chiapas jungle is legendary; they call it ‘The Beast’. The challenge was to convey a sensation of speed and motion in a still picture. I preset my camera: the focus, the shutter speed. Then I hunkered down with both eyes on the hazard and one finger on the shutter.”-Dan Bartletti
Dan Bartletti followed the route from Honduras, through Mexico, and across the Rio Grande taken by Enrique. Where Enrique walked, he walked, nearly 100 miles. Bartletti braved thieves, street gangs, and corrupt cops, just as Enrique did. Many of these children are beaten and robbed along the way; girls are raped. Where Enrique rode freight trains, Bartletti rode freight trains, more than 1,200 miles. Many of the children lose arms, legs, hands, or feet when they slip under the wheels climbing aboard; some fall off the top and die.