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The 2019 Eugene Smith Grant: Deadly mines

The 2019 Eugene Smith Grant: Deadly mines

The W. Eugene Smith Grant in Humanistic Photography is among the oldest photography awards. It is presented annually to a photographer whose work follows the humanistic tradition of W. Eugene Smith. Among the finalists in the 40th anniversary contest, two caught the attention of the Blind Magazine’s editors. We take a look at the Italian photographer Alessandro Cinque who produced a breathtaking report from the mining corridor in Peru.
August 15th, 2019, Las Bambas mine. Explorations of site started in 2004 by Xstrata Cooper company. In 2013 Glencore (the same company who owns, Antapaccay and Tintaya in Espinar) becomes the owner of Las Bambas until the 2014, when the corporation composed by MMG limited, Guojxin International Investment and CITIC Metal acquired it. In the picture Gregorio Roja Paniura, the Representative of the Community of Nuove Fuerabamba with tipical hat. © Alessandro Cinque

Alessandro Cinque spent two years travelling along the Southern mining corridor in the Peruvian Andes. Although ore extraction in this region yields nearly 40% of national copper production, making Peru the world’s second largest producer of copper, zinc, and silver, it spells disaster for the locals. It brought them cancer, anemia, respiratory illnesses, prostitution, and crime… Cinque’s photographs are a tragic and alarming testimony to this state of affairs.

“Over the recent years, the situation has changed considerably,” explains one local farmer. “We used to prosper with our animals and fertile fields; now we have nothing.” Alessandro Cinque collected oral testimonies and photographed the faces of the few inhabitants who stayed behind to resist. Many have already left this diseased, deadly land. Contaminated water is a scourge for the locals as it is for the animals whose populations have been decimated. Those that survive, produce stillborn offspring, like the calf that Grimalda de Cuno is getting ready to bury. Another image shows the internment of Félix’s father who was killed during an anti-mining protest. This heartbreaking report shows the plight of a community determined to resist at any costs.

August 16th, Huisa, Espinar, Peru. Grimalda De Cuno in her house is commiserating her calf who was born dead the day before. Because of polluted water with heavy metals, many animals die for drinking from the river, or born dead. Livestock has been destroyed over the years, worsening the conditions of farmers and breeders already in poverty state. In the last 6 years, Grimalda’s family lost 21 cows, all the sheep and lamas they had. © Alessandro Cinque
August 13th, 2018, Cemetery of Tres Angeles, Espinar, Peru. The son praying on the tomb of his father Felix. In Espinar, in 2012, there was the huge cycle of protests “ Espinar se Levanta” organized by local population against the mining activity. Police repressed the protest with violence. There were 3 dead and dozens injured. Among the victims there is Felix a senior eighty- two-year-old pacifist, head of the Alto Huancanè community. © Alessandro Cinque
August 9th, 2018, Mamanocca, Espinar, Peru. Farmers are extinguish the fire into a cultivated field. 380 hectares burned, 40 families were involved. The problem of fires often afflicts the territories around the city of Espinar and the lack of water does not facilitate the shutdown which is carried out with blankets, sweaters and any kind of clothes, by farmers who hasten. If the animals are dead and their lands are incinerated, surviving becomes hard. © Alessandro Cinque
August 16th, 2019, Doroteo Paniura Ucharo, 44 years old. He has been shot by police in 2015, during protests against the mine, in Pumamarca community. The bullet entered the nipple and came out in the armpit. © Alessandro Cinque
August 25th, 2018, Along the road that connects Sicuani with Espinar, Peru, Overturned truck. Its content is spilling into the environment.The lack of attention paid to issues of safety at work, the exhausting rhythms and the problem of alcoholism often contribute to the occurrence of numerous accidents. © Alessandro Cinque

By Coline Olsina  

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