Media Watch: Latin American Photography in Americas Quarterly Magazine

By David Schonauer   Monday September 4, 2017

What is it like to be 18 years old in Latin America?

To look for answers to that question, Americas Quarterly magazine asked four reporters and four photographers to follow four young adults from different countries over a period of eight weeks. The photographers commissioned for the story — Calé Merage, Ulises Ruiz Bazurto, Salvador Meléndez, and Nicolas Villaume (a former Latin American Fotografia competition winner) — brought back images portraying a youthful generation that, notes AQ, “believe anything is possible.”

Latin American youth “have grown up in a time of almost unprecedented growth and opportunity,” notes the magazine. “They are the first raised in a Latin America where the middle class outnumbers the poor. They are far more connected to the world via those ubiquitous smartphones – and have higher aspirations to match. About 84 percent of them believe they’ll reach their professional goals more easily than their parents did, according to a global survey by the Citi Foundation. No other region was more optimistic, the poll showed – not even Asia.”

Today we spotlight that story, along with another feature from the new issue of Americas Quarterly: an interview with Argentine photographer Rodrigo Abd, who the magazine has named one of the top five journalists in Latin America.

GREAT EXPECTATIONS — What Latin American 18-Year-Olds Want

Young people in Latin America today are coming of age as birth rates plummet and the large, traditional Latin American family becomes a thing of the past, declares Americas Quarterly  “This could pay big dividends: 15- to 24-year-olds are now 20 percent of the population, a bumper crop of young, productive workers that could transform the region,” notes the magazine in its latest issue. What do today’s youth expect? The magazine asked four journalists and four young photographers to follow four 18 year olds from Brazil, Mexico, Peru, and El Salvador for eight weeks. Their lives are very different, but their hopes and determination are the commonalities that unite them, notes the magazine.

Sabrina, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, by Calé Merage

Andrés, Guadalajara, Mexico, by Ulises Ruiz Bazurto

Lesly, Lima, Peru, by Nicolas Villaume

Maynor, San Salvador, El Salvador, by Salvador Meléndez/AP

“[G]overnments intent on growth, not just now but over the next decades, would do well to take a look at Sabrina, Andrés, Lesly, Maynor and their peers. Their prospects are also those of Latin America,” notes Americas Quarterly

RODRIGO ABD: Why Truth Pulls Him Back to Latin America

The pursuit of truth often comes at a cost in Latin America. So notes America’s Quarterly magazine, which recently named what it considers the top five journalists in Latin America, honoring their “bravery, investigative prowess and commitment to democracy.” Among the group is Argentine photojournalist Rodrigo Abd, who may be best known for his coverage of the Syrian civil war. But in an interview with the magazine,  Abd says his deepest connection will always be with fellow Latin Americans, and that it is their stories he most wants to tell. The magazine featured a portfolio  of Abd’s lesser known images from Latin America — portraits of gang members and indigenous beauty queens in Guatemala, coverage of the crisis in Venezuela, and illegal mining in Peru — along with a profile  of the photographer.

Guatemala, 2007 :José Daniel Galindo, 22, a member of the Mara Salvatrucha gang

Guatemala, 2011: Young Mayans representing Guatemalan states

Peru, 2014: Manuel Espinosa, a miner, holds his four-month-old son, Edward

Venezuela, 2012: A worker tries to repair a broken pipe in Caracas

“I want to go deep, to try to understand why people do what they do—why is the gangster a gangster? — but to do it sin prejuicio,” without prejudice,” Abd says. “The only place I can really do that—talk to the women making tortillas, listen to the radio, put myself in people’s shoes, is Latin America.”
At top: From Rodrigo Abd


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