juarez

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This ofrenda was constructed in remembrance of women killed along the Texas/Mexico border. There is one sugar skull for every women who has been found dead. Each skull has the name of one woman killed in the Juarez, Mexico area. Little has been done to stop the carnage. The installation was presented at Dia de los Muertos in 2006 at the National Hispanic Cultural Center in Albuquerque.

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Reportage photographer Katie Orlinsky recently talked to the PhotoWhoa blog about reporting on the effects of the drug war in Juarez, Mexico:

“There was also the narrative that the Mexican government was touting to wash its hands of the war, which was that if you were killed in “la violencia” you must have done something wrong and deserved it; they were basically saying that innocent people weren’t the ones dying. This is a big fat lie and I wanted to show that. I first tried contacting relatives of the murdered a couple weeks after their death was in the newspaper. It was never successful. Then I started going to support groups for widows in churches and non-profits. I was allowed to come in at the beginning or end and briefly tell them what I was doing. I handed out my card with my number on it, allowing people to contact me as opposed to the other way around. I kept at this for a few weeks and eventually the woman in the photo’s sister called me up. Her brother had been killed at the funeral of a friend and I think allowing me to come photograph the family felt like a way of clearing her brother’s name. I would spend days at their house, and the thing that stuck me the most was how badly her son was doing. He had become a real troublemaker since his father died. It was hard to get him to eat dinner, that’s what this photo is about. But it also raises important questions, like what kind of adult will this boy grow up to be? Or even what kind of teenager? Will a gang recruit him and will he try to avenge his father’s death? How anyone could anyone possibly say there are no “innocent victims” of this war boggles my mind.”

Read more on the PhotoWhoa website. See more of Katie’s work here.

(Photo by Katie Orlinsky/Reportage by Getty Images)