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PETARE

CARACAS, VENEZUELA

2006

Looking now at your photographs of Cerro de Petare, as you took to calling it after you arrived, I am struck by the impression that they would be timeless were it not for the odd graffiti or populist campaign poster; that the only evidence of their existence is to be found in the gouged-out lines of geopolitics, the third world and underdevelopment.

It would seem to be the same panorama wherever you go, from Africa and its neighbors to the favelas of Bahía de Todos los Santos in Brazil.

They have the same wilted look about them; the same secretions and wounds; the same filthy marks of apartheid, segregation and marginal abandon; the political, the economic and the sexual discrimination; the same old grindingly familiar panorama of underdevelopment.

Because, your small and precise book helps me to better understand this world around me and this Caracas ever more laden with human misery. I can better understand the slum Petare, this Pyramid of ours, gazing down on us, watching us steadily with its streets and its houses, which are not so immaculate as the blinding white architecture of the Greek isles; not so photogenic.

A mother spits at us: around here they murder us every night, there´s no life to be had. As little life as there is in the final few pictures of your book, where a seventeen-year-old boy is found slaughtered with seven bullet wounds. Meanwhile the gang members jolt down the hill carrying the coffin of their dead comrade-in-arms (because the gangsters are forbidden from holding wakes for their own dead within the fortress), chanting the Colombian vallenato song…

Paolo Gasparini´s letter for the Petare´s book
2007