Mexico's Misery

The term ‘drug war’ only barely describes what is going on in Mexico. America’s hunger for drugs is taking a brutal toll on the country. Homicides and drug addiction rates in Mexico surged to historic highs. What was the impact in Mexico of its soaring heroin exports to the United States? Why were murders spiking in places like Acapulco that weren’t drug-cartel strongholds? How was drug violence changing as traffickers increasingly targeted Mexicans as consumers? The evidence of the carnage is inescapable in many of Mexico’s cities and towns. Cesar Corona is 27 and has been addicted to heroin since his mother committed suicide when he was 18. He spends his days injecting “Belushis,” a combination of heroin and methamphetamine into his neck within site of the US/Mexico border. In Jalisco, a family grieves over the loss of a recently murdered relative. She had miraculously survived 2 gunshots to the head, only to be gunned down by sicarios, or assassins, a month later. Acapulco, once a celebrated seaside resort has descended into a homicidal hell, many of its neighborhood devoid of police, law and increasingly, residents. It is the second most dangerous city in the world. In Mexico’s “Tierra Caliente,” or Hot Land, local citizens have taken up arms in an effort to defend themselves from “El Tequilero,” a drunken psychopath who has been murdering and kidnapping residents of this opium growing region. As long as the thirst for drugs keeps growing in its northern neighbor, Mexico will remain gripped by the violence and corruption that have consumed much of the country.


The New Autocrats

Democracy in Eastern Europe has paved the way for a new breed of Autocrats to strengthen their authoritarian grip on their respective countries. Led by Hungary's President, Viktor Orban, governments in Poland, Romania and the Czech Republic are reining in the freedom of the press, attempting to pack the judiciary and accused of being awash in corrupt practices.

Farmers complain of decaying infrastructure preventing them from getting goods to market. In Romania, secular citizens worry about the growing power of the Orthodox Church and vanishing borders between church and state. In Poland, protesters voice their opposition to the dismantling of the country's constitution. Will populism unravel democracy and create a new autocratic Iron Curtain?


The Driest Seasons

California endured an historic drought between 2010 and 2014. In the state's agricultural heart, the Central Valley the ground is thirsty, the earth is sinking and towns are being abandoned. Families are without water and increasingly, people are without work as farmers let fertile land go fallow.

If you want to dig a well, prepare to wait a year or longer just go get the land surveyed. Big agricultural firms have no problem absorbing the costs of digging deeper. They are cashing in on the almond rush. To grow a single nut requires a gallon of water.

Emergency measures are finaly being put into place after the Sierra Nevada, the state's main source of water, received a paltry five percent of its normal winter snowfall. Hopes are evaporating that relief will ever come.

These photographs were made over the course of 2014 in towns and famrs throughout the Central Valley.


Rinconada: City of Broken Dreams

The chaos sits at the foot of a glacier in southeastern Peru, between 5,000 and 5,400 (16,400-17,200 feet) meters above sea level. There 50,000 people dig their way into the mountain side looking for their fortune in gold. Rinconada is a brutal place, devoid of sanitation, law, proper sewage and recourse. Alcoholism and accidents are commonplace. Doctors and lawyers are among those desperate to find the metal in the mountain, having abandoned their practices for the promise of instant fortune.


Fading History: Cairo, Illinois

Rural areas throughout America are facing a population exodus and nowhere is it more apparent, and acute, than in Cairo, Illinois. Situated at the southern tip of Illinois, at the confluence of the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers, Cairo, once an economic powerhouse given its strategic location, is not a city overrun by kudzu and population flight. Two housing complexes are being shut down resulting in a large portion of the population moving to neighboring towns. A city steeped in history is slowly finding itself becoming just that, an entry in history books that has faded away.


Five Days

In August 2008, tensions over the "breakaway republic" of South Ossetia between Russia and Georgia boiled over into a conflict that left hundreds dead and thousands wounded. Russian troops invaded Georgia as far as Gori, a city near the center of Georgia and the birthplace of Josef Stalin, one of the Soviet Union's most infamous and brutal dictators.

South Ossetia, a republic recognized by few countries, is still a Russian satellite state in the restive Caucasus region. The International Court in The Hague opened an investigation into war crimes committed by Russian, Georgian and Ossetian forces during the conflict.

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Vanishing Northeast

The city is disappearing fast, or at least being reinvented. Glass cubes seem to be rising on every corner and construction cranes jockeying for position in an increasingly claustrophobic skyline. After nine years away from Washington, my return in 2016 felt far less nostalgic than I expected. So in documenting life in Northeast, as I saw it, it was what I didn’t see that prompted me to work with an iPhone to photograph buildings, places and people that may not still be here in a few years.


Selva de Cimento

For years I had been trying to get to Brazil. Her music, people, sensual language and geography seemed unreachable. All my plans to land in Rio or Sao Paulo were thwarted by circumstance. In 2013 I finally made the first of two month long trips. These photographs, from that first trip, stemmed from wanderings in the urban corridors and nether worlds of Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo, the country's two megacities.

The extremes of these cities were overwhelming. Horrible income disparity, impossible geographic beauty, endless seas of cement, racial tension, a culture of violence passed from generation to generation. Complex doesn't scratch the surface. The country is frustration, joy, desperation, fear, love, sweat and exasperation all boiling together. I miss it dearly.


Mumbai's Hidden Heart

Dharavi lies in the heart of India's capital of business and show business. Over a million people compressed into a couple of square miles. Developers have been salivating over this piece of land for decades but as yet have been unable to get India's byzantine court system to give them approval. There are after all, a lot of voters in Dharavi.

They come from all over India, potters from Gujarat, weavers from West Bengal and merchants from Uttar Pradesh amongst many others. Together they generate over US$700 million annually in revenue. The beehive remains intact but may wonder how long Dharavi's heart can continue beating under the pressure.