After traveling through Guatemala and crossing the Suchiate River into Mexico, this newest caravan of asylum seekers was treated to the same appalling tactics being carried out at the US/Mexico border. It seems now that the two Governments are working in tandem to deal with Central American Migrants in some of the most inhumane ways imaginable. When the migrants arrived at the border of Guatemala and Mexico, they were gassed and pepper sprayed on their first attempt to cross. The government officials began to trick asylum seekers into entering Mexico in smaller, more manageable groups. Promising them a chance at applying for asylum or continuing on to the US Border, only to force them onto buses so that they can be deported back to their respective countries in Central America. I watched men weep, feeling that they were trapped in an impossible situation. Their journey ahead was obstructed by cruel government policies, yet returning to their homeland could mean living a life of extortion, impoverishment, and possibly death at the hands of the ruling gangs.
The projects submitted to the me&EVE Award were very strong and reflective of our concerns as a society today. They included themes of migration, political protests, identity, family, memory, as well as some archival work. The submissions that rose to the top were both visually and thematically strong – focused enough to get a window into a new world but expansive enough that the project would resonate broadly. The projects that were less successful seemed either too narrow or too broad in scope or needed more development photographically in order to hone a strong visual voice. The winner, Ada Trillo, stood out because of her very humanistic lens on the Central American migration crisis and her long term dedication and connection to this subject matter.