I met Victor Manuel (Torito) and Cristopher (El Gato) at the beginning of 2013 in Tala, a village not far from Guadalajara, the city where I live. They were 12 and 13 years old respectively, and were cutting sugar cane with their older brother Eduardo (14), and their father.
The “Between Reeds” project involves making a photographic record, based on pre-existing trust, of the passage of these children into adulthood. In a country marked by extreme poverty, corruption and impunity, the outlook for these adolescents is hardly encouraging a perpetuation of poverty by either working for a miserable salary, crossing illegally into the United States or joining the ranks of organized crime.
What binds them to Tala is sugarcane, the area’s principal crop. When the sugarcane season comes to an end, Torito and his family must find temporary work in order to survive. Roberto makes reed “crowns” at home to go in funeral flower arrangements.
The children’s parents, Alma and Roberto, cannot read or write. The father is a nice person but, like most Mexicans, he is also a macho man. The mother is sweet. She keeps images of the Guadalupe Virgin in each room and always entrusts her children to the care of God. The main accomplice of impunity in Mexico is, perhaps, religious resignation.