David Rochkind’s series, “Heavy Hand, Sunken Spirit” is about the social costs and consequences of Mexico’s violent drug war. In the four years since President Felipe Calderon’s inauguration, over 35,000 people have been killed and kidnappings have skyrocketed. The cartels are ruthless, leaving the gruesome nature of their crimes visible to everyone.
Rochkind explains how Mexico is a country in crisis: “The government is battling the drug cartels, the drug cartels are battling each other and there is a palpable fear across the nation. Corruption exists throughout the state and complaints of human rights abuses by the army are widespread. The line between criminals and the authorities is so blurred that the average citizen fears everyone. These photographs attempt to move beyond simple depictions of carnage to explore the stress and tension that is left in the wake of such violence and illustrate how this conflict will impact and handicap Mexico’s future.” Rochkind’s exhibition, “Heavy Hand, Sunken Spirit,” opens at Blue Sky gallery in Portland, Oregon, on February 2, 2012.
Above: This stretch of the border divides Nogales, Arizona, at left and Nogales, Sonora, at right. There has been little violent spillover into the U.S., though recently U.S. citizens have been killed with more frequency in Mexico. In March of 2010, two U.S. Consulate workers were gunned down in Ciudad Juarez. –Courtesy of Blue Sky Gallery
“Community,” February 2007. A young girl walks by a caravan of police vehicles during a security sweep looking for criminals and drug dealers. Law enforcement officials along the border say that increased border security has resulted in more drugs staying in Mexico, which has elevated crime and created a variety of social problems. The consequences of this conflict are felt, and exhibited, throughout the daily lives of many communities in Mexico.
“Security Sweep,” March 2009. Ciudad Juraez is at the center of Mexico’s violence, with more than 5,000 drug-related murders over the past two years. President Felipe Calderon has sent thousands of soldiers to the city to try to stem the violence, though after a short decrease in murders, the violence blossomed once again. Here, soldiers search young men for drugs, weapons or signs of drug use in downtown Ciudad Juarez.
“Dia de Los Muertos”