The day broke in the middle of the morning. It was upon entering one of the many African migrant settlements that besieged the limits of Cabo de Gata under a sea of plastic. Huts made with leftover material from the greenhouses, intermingled with boards and cardboard to try an impossible verticality, that would support the weight of stones and tires so that it would not fly when blowing the Almería east. Inside, the horror; the smell, the misery, the fear. They steal water from the irrigated reservoirs to drink. This was the home of the UNEQUAL – irregular -, who one day decided to come to Europe to survive their depleted countries.
From absolute poverty, we were greeted by the doctor from the NGO Médicos del Mundo and this photojournalist, offering us a hot tea. They had nothing. Only their gods remained. But the worst came from the opposite side, in El Ejido, in the west and Michelin star restaurant. There, a medieval business class mercilessly exploits those “undesirable” castaways from the Sahara and the Mediterranean. One of those new rich men snapped at me explicitly: Well, they wouldn’t have come! Its peppers are sold in Germany.
So I began to outline this photo report. I felt pain when contemplating my country and I wondered what the flag patriots call home. Photography serves to show the world, but also to talk about it. I had to turn everyday life into something extraordinary. It was the nuance that should be given to the narration of the life of all these excluded from the system, who have had the misfortune of falling to the other side of the statistics.
Following the trail that power leaves when it creates a submissive and decadent society, I later entered Valencia, to give meaning to the refugees who daily pass through the facilities of Médicos del Mundo, where they receive humanitarian aid that the State denies to the long-term unemployed, homeless people, women fleeing from abuse, “illegal blacks” and invisible evicted and without resources. All with an incredible story in their eyes; you just had to look at them head-on to intuit it. There was no possibility of hiding.
They say that all the UNEQUALS settle in the South. It is not true. The power lies and therefore, my curiosity also led me to the North. With the advice of Médicos del Mundo and under the sun of Vigo, I photographed violent women, solemn poor, beggars, crippled dependents, drug addicts. Vulnerable people and without reaction capacity. The North also exists; but in that summer the European Cup of selections was played, and there everything ended.
Something was still missing: prostitution, trafficking. From the headquarters of Médicos del Mundo in Toledo, we toured Castilla-La Mancha to look for testimonies of female protagonists. We already knew that the more you delay, the more brothels. The more ignorance, the more sexual exploitation. The less education, the more inequality. But on the road we learned that power imposes fear to create obedience. In this way the circle to which Rousseau referred to on power closes: “If the power does not correct the inequalities of his people, the revolution will break out at the gates of the Palace.” We have been making merit for some time.
On World African Women’s Day, I ended my story. Refugee women, immigrants, “irregular” in general, participated with their children, filled with happiness, in a solidary meal with children’s games. They taught children the meaning of coexistence and tolerance, which their parents have not been able to live. They did not need a table to eat; They held the plate with their smile and their joy. Is Spain. That is all.
Carlos de Andrés is a photojournalist and documentary reporter. With his experience, he teaches editing workshops in these specialties at the EFTI International Center for Photography; as well as courses, seminars and thematic projections in very diverse forums, being professor assigned to the Master of Photography applied by the Miguel Hernández University of Elche.
He has worked in the agencies Cover (Spain), Vu (France) and Getty Images (USA) today, as a collaborator. Also on the staff in the newspaper El Sol, El País Semanal, El Globo. As well as photography studios Stampa and El Sótano, where he has worked as a freelance photographer for all Spanish media and some of the most important in the world. His photographs are published in more than eighty photography books.
He has made personal and collective projects for publishers, advertising agencies, institutions, foundations and public and private companies; some of whose thematic works have become part of the history of photography in Spain. His photographs have been acquired and exhibited in museums, galleries and collections in Spain and in other countries such as USA, France, Brazil, Italy, United Kingdom, El Salvador and Japan.
Winner of thirty contest and scholarships with reports and projects of socially and contemporarily committed theme in which he is still immersed, such as the proposal of: “Youth. A Generation “, carried out through a personal vision and a cross-section of the most advanced and developed Spanish society in its history between 1985 and 2010; with the intention of publishing a book of photographs as an author. Recently he has published the book “The Edition in Photography”, projected as a manual of selection of the best images.