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Photographs Children in a World of Gangs

Friday, January 24, 2014

Central American nations had the highest per capita homicide rates in the world, mostly due to gang violence. But why has gang activity become endemic in the region? Photojournalist Donna De Cesare has been trying to answer that question since she began covering Central America during the civil wars of the 1980s, focusing especially on children and youths. She continued her photography project in Central American refugee communities in the United States in the 1990s and postwar Central America in the 2000s. In her book Unsettled/Desasosiego: Children in a World of Gangs, she documents a history of repression, violence, and trauma, in which gangs are as much a symptom as a cause of trauma.

Copyright © Donna De Cesare,1994
Donna De Cesare. Pico Union, Los Angeles, 1994. Ivonne reads a letter from her gang-involved boyfriend after his deportation to El Salvador.

From Unsettled / Desasosiego: Children in a World of Gangs by Donna De Cesare. Published by University of Texas Press.

Copyright © Donna De Cesare,1989
Donna De Cesare. Soyapango, El Salvador, 1989.

During the rebel offensive in November, civilians in a zone held by insurgents flee their working-class barrio after three days of aerial bombing and strafing by the Salvadoran air force.

From Unsettled / Desasosiego: Children in a World of Gangs by Donna De Cesare. Published by University of Texas Press.

Copyright © Donna De Cesare,1989
Donna De Cesare. San Salvador, El Salvador, 1989.

In the 1980s El Salvador had one of our hemisphere's worst human rights records. This victim was allegedly murdered by government death squads for violating curfew during the guerrilla offensive in November.

From Unsettled / Desasosiego: Children in a World of Gangs by Donna De Cesare. Published by University of Texas Press.

Copyright © Donna De Cesare,1988
Donna De Cesare. El Salvador / Honduras border, El Poy, El Salvador, 1988.

Salvadoran families make their way  to the the village of Guarjila in a caravan of buses, after leaving the Mesa Grand refugee camp in Honduras.

From Unsettled / Desasosiego: Children in a World of Gangs by Donna De Cesare. Published by University of Texas Press.

Copyright © Donna De Cesare,1994
Donna De Cesare. Westside, Los Angeles, 1994.

Immigration agents for the Violent Gang Task Force target immigrant youth whom they suspect may be gang-involved for deportation.

From Unsettled / Desasosiego: Children in a World of Gangs by Donna De Cesare. Published by University of Texas Press.

Copyright © Donna De Cesare, 1994
Donna De Cesare. Ventura, California, 1994.

Jessica Diaz embraces her mother Carmen and son Carlos at the end of visiting day at the California youth Authority facility where she is serving a sentence for drug related robbery.

From Unsettled / Desasosiego: Children in a World of Gangs by Donna De Cesare. Published by University of Texas Press.

Copyright © Donna De Cesare,1994
Donna De Cesare. Downtown, Los Angeles, 1994.

Immigrants protest Proposition 187,  a ballot initiative to deny education and healthcare to undocumented adults and children.  It  was ultimately defeated, but marked hardening attitudes towards immigrants and their children.

From Unsettled / Desasosiego: Children in a World of Gangs by Donna De Cesare. Published by University of Texas Press.

Copyright © Donna De Cesare,1996
Donna De Cesare. San Bartolo, El Salvador, 1996.

When La Loquita, Cashy, and Shy Boy began associating with gangs in Los Angeles, their families thought sending them back to El Salvador was the best way to keep them safe and out of gangs. But rival gangs were spreading from the United States to El Salvadorand the one bond the trusted was the gang they identified with.

From Unsettled / Desasosiego: Children in a World of Gangs by Donna De Cesare. Published by University of Texas Press.

Copyright © Donna De Cesare, 1996
Donna De Cesare. San Salvador, El Salvador 1996. Gang members make a pact of revenge over the grave of a slain leader.

From Unsettled / Desasosiego: Children in a World of Gangs by Donna De Cesare. Published by University of Texas Press.

Copyright © Donna De Cesare, 2009
Donna De Cesare. Fraijanes, Guatemala, 2009.

A gang member in an isolation cage in the special block for prisoners who have been threatened by other inmates, at the maximum security prison Granja Penal de Pavón.

From Unsettled / Desasosiego: Children in a World of Gangs by Donna De Cesare. Published by University of Texas Press.

Copyright © Donna De Cesare, 2001
Donna De Cesare. Jocotenango, Guatemala 2001. A Holy Week procession passes village walls marked with the graffiti of the gang that dominates the zone.

From Unsettled / Desasosiego: Children in a World of Gangs by Donna De Cesare. Published by University of Texas Press.

Copyright © Donna De Cesare, 2009
Donna De Cesare. San Salvador, El Salvador, 2009.

At a leadership training workshop on gender rights, a group of young women from one of the most impoverished and violent barrios, lists their suggestions for how to reduce violence in Salvadoran society.

From Unsettled / Desasosiego: Children in a World of Gangs by Donna De Cesare. Published by University of Texas Press.

Guests:

Donna Decesare

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