Photographer Nicola Okin Frioli in his photo series The Other Side of The American Dream catalogs the dark side of immigrants from El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, and Nicaragua who come to the United States to seek seeking security and stability, equality and freedom but as they pass Mexico they are subjected to violent beatings, sexual abuse, kidnappings, and murder at the hands of the country’s gangs, including the Maras Salvatruchas, and corrupt officials operating within the system.
Their plan to migrate to the US, to work and provide their families, is failed. They face mutilations and injuries but most of the humiliation is because their dream never comes true… being on “The Other Side”.
“It’s an effort to document the most dramatic side of Central American migration, all the accidents and mutilations. The broken dream of those who cross Mexico with the responsibility of their families and their livelihood, and when not accomplished [face] physical mutilations that could disable them from working the rest of their lives ‘The other side of the dream’ does not only refer to the search for the American dream. But also the failure of an intent to have a better life, the unfulfilled dream and a future that will never come,” Frioli said.
These photos shed light on an issue that has largely remained out of the public eye. It reveals evidence of the vast and painful insensitivity of the Mexican border. It offers a glimpse into the human failure that more and more individuals endure in their attempts to reach North America.
Teofilo Santos Rivera, 42, Panamá. He was the victim of an attempted mass assault by gang members during the crossing through Mexico. He jumped off the roof of the train, hurting his feet. Also suffers from liver cirrhosis and a cancerous sore on the back. – Tapachula, Chiapas, 2014.
Mariana, 29, Honduras. She was assaulted during her crossing as an undocumented person through Mexico, with the intent to arrive in the United States. She was pushed by the assailants into a ravine, and was able to avoid an attempted rape. Mariana’s travel companion was beaten when she attempted to defend her. – Tapachula, Chiapas, 2010.
Armando, El Salvador. His destination was the United States, but he was deported in Baja California while riding in the cargo train crossing Mexico. He wanted to retry the trip as undocumented via Tenosique, Tabasco. This time, while trying to get on the train, he fell and the very train amputated his arm. He awaits the document certifying him as a refugee. – Tapachula, Chiapas, 2014.
Yenifer, 8, Guatemala. She suffered, along with her 12-year-old sister and 11 other migrants, an automobile accident in Chiapas. The accident was caused by a flat front tire of the truck they boarded. The only person who died was the driver. They wanted to reach the US. – Tapachula, Chiapas, 2014.
“I’m 21, from Guatemala; while in the U.S. my brother, Danilo, and I were deported, and my brother Medardo was killed. In the end, I lost everything and I keep trying”. – Ixtepec, Oaxaca, 2011.
Anonymous with daughters hidden behind the cardboard to protect their identity. The message says ‘I have worked with drug traffickers (in Honduras) to support my family, until I fled for the safety of my children.’ In Central America, one of the few jobs available is drug trafficking. – Tapachula, Mexico, 2014.
Brian Francisco of Honduran origin, born in Canada. Although he and his sister have a Canadian passport, they travel with their undocumented mother in the same conditions. While in Honduras he was assaulted with a gun to his head by a friend’s trafficker father. On his board he wrote, “My mother was deported and they returned us to Honduras. I am 15 and do not want to suffer anymore”. – Tapachula, Chiapas, 2014.
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