El Campo

El campo is the Spanish word for a rural area or the countryside.  While I hesitate to use foreign words or expressions  a word like el campo or campesino (rural workers or farmers) carries much more meaning in Mexico than "countryside" or "rural worker" so I've begun using them.  The images that appear in four portfolios are from the time I spent in el campo in November and December, 2008.  An article I wrote appeared in La Jornada del Campo, the monthly supplement of Mexico City's La Jornada.  It's in Spanish but if you're interested (and fluent in Spanish) the link is:


The article is Cruce de Miradas: Una Vision Estadounidense del Campo Mexicano.

To sum up the article for those of you who aren't fluent in Spanish, el campo is in crisis.  I spent six weeks in Mexico during November and December of 2008.  For about five of those weeks I was in el campo.  I was in remote mountain villages in the coffee-growing regions in 2003 (that work is in the Los Cafetaleros portfolio) and I wanted to broaden the scope of that project.  These portfolios contains some of the images. I was in 11 villages across 4 states: Morelos, Tabasco, Puebla and Veracruz.

I had been in touch with people from Instituto Maya since I visited in 2003 and was aware that the situation in el campo was dire.  It was every bit as bad as I'd been led to believe.  Over 80% of campesinos are considered "extremely poor" meaning they earn less than $2 a day.  Campesinos are finding it more and more difficult to sell their produce in local markets because produce from the US is selling for less.  There is little other work and campesinos are leaving their villages for work in larger Mexican cities and the US.  In Mexico City, you can see them on virtually every corner, selling whatever they can.  With the US economy worsening and the border tightening, many Mexican workers are unable to get work or unable to cross the border.  An increasing number are returning to Mexico only to find themselves without work.

El campo is in crisis but it's a silent crisis.  The poorest people often attract the least amount of attention until it's too late.