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Kirsten Luce March 29, 2012

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in Mexico.
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Funeral in Cieneguilla, Mexico, 2007

Kirsten Luce (b. 1981, USA) freelances in Brooklyn where she is a regular contributor to the New York Times. She graduated with  a B.S. in Interdisciplinary Studies from the University of Georgia and received the NAFTA Journalism and Globalization Grant to study in Colima, Mexico. Kirsten was a staff photographer for The Monitor on the Texas/Mexico border. Her work has been published in The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Associated Press, Bloomberg News, CARE International and National Geographic Adventure. She is the coordinator for the Foundry Photojournalism Workshop, a non-profit documentary workshop held in a different country each year.

About the Photograph:

“This photo was taken on assignment for the Monitor, a newspaper in McAllen, Texas, along the Mexican border. We were reporting the story of a young man named Moises who had died of dehydration while avoiding a border patrol checkpoint along the highway to San Antonio. In South Texas, these checkpoints are situated about 60 miles north of the border on all highways heading north. Migrants face two major obstacles while crossing the border: first is the Rio Grande River, which is relatively easy if you know how to swim, and the second is a long walk through the hot, remote brush land to avoid the checkpoint. Although these casualties occur with regularity in the Monitor’s coverage area, they were typically reported as statistics or briefs since little was known about the individuals themselves. I wanted to tell the story of one of these people and shed light on their individual circumstances and motivations.”

“The Mexican Consulate in McAllen alerted us when his body was reported and we were able to contact the family and ask permission to attend the funeral. We quickly made our way to Cieneguilla, an isolated village in the mountains of Hidalgo where nearly half of the young men were in the United States working. It was Moises’ second trip to Texas and his girlfriend was pregnant. He had intended to save enough in a few months to complete the home he had started building. The funeral was a sobering experience for the community members who attended–most had crossed themselves, all had family members in the US. An amateur musician, Moises would earn money in Mexico by acting as a manager and driving musicians to gigs in other cities in the interior of Mexico. The burial occurred on a gloomy day following a storm–and his musician friends provided a haunting and somber soundtrack for the funeral and burial.  The young man on the left of the frame had just returned from a long stint in the US and was particularly troubled by his friend’s sudden death.”

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