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  2. Chavos:

    In 2011, when I arrived in Mexico, the city of Monterrey was engulfed in violence. Every day there were shootings, killings and kidnappings, as two of the country's powerful drug cartels fought for control. Out of this mayhem I began to realise many of the people implicated in this violence, either as victims or perpetrators, were poor young men. The Mexican government's official INEGI statistics show almost 35% of those murdered in Mexico are males aged from 15 to 29. In Monterrey, people who had spent their youth hanging around on street corners affiliated to their local gang were being swept up and used by the competing cartels.

    I decided to try and understand the worlds of these young men, not focusing specifically on the drug violence, but photographing the individuals and the environments they live in. Over three years I kept returning, working with three street gangs in different parts of the city. I met people who always treated me with respect, and with time we came to be great friends. However, the problems are obvious. They live in a context where there are limited opportunities for a good education or well-paid stable work. 

    When I started to photograph the violence was ongoing. Some of the people I got to know had already lived through the worst of it, while others experienced their darkest moments as I was working. Everybody in these images has lost friends or family members to the violence, many witnessed the killings and their aftermath, and some narrowly escaped with their lives. In time the places where I was photographing calmed, the violence moved to other parts of the city, and to other areas of the country. Many of the young men are now trying to build ordinary lives. However, they all live with the memories of those years and with a fear that the violence will return.

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