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Honduras' Blood Lobsters
Kawkira
By Carsten Snejbjerg
08 Oct 2014

On the outermost point of Honduras’ peninsula between the Caratasca lagoon and the Caribbean Ocean, lies the small town Kawkira. It is there, in the most far-out areas of Honduras, that the Misquito Indians have lived off of lobster diving for decades. Today, America’s growing demand for the sea creatures causes them to dive deeper and more often. Many risk their lives diving only with the most basic and outdated equipment.

With no roads leading to Kawkira, the only method of access is by boat. Taywar Thomson lives here with his family of eight. At 23 years of age, Taywar is a diver just like his father Don Moises was before a diving accident left him permanently handicapped at the age of 60. Despite his father’s accident and the many accidents he has experienced himself, the lack of other ways to make a living forces Taywar back to the diving boats day after day.

Like many others, Taywar has suffered from decompression sickness and gets intermittent shooting pains in his shoulder. He has run out of air 35 meters under the surface several times, dropping his catch to resurface without any decompression. This maneuver is known to be highly dangerous and even deadly in the diving world, where surfacing without decompression is normally strictly forbidden if divers are deeper than 18 meters. With 35 lobster boats, Honduras has the biggest fleet in the region, each boat holding dozens of divers and often exceeding their capacity. Also boarding the boats are personal helpers, called a cayoqueros, who look out for bubbles and follow the divers into the open sea.

Lobster divers often leave on expeditions of up to 14 days, using between 12 to 20 tanks a day and diving as deep as 50 meters at times. The combination of such deep and frequent dives is a sharp aberration from normal diving procedure. Most dive without any safety equipment and can experience jammed regulators while under water, while others, like Taywar, suffer from decompression sickness leading to daily joint pain and difficulty breathing. Diving is even more dangerous for a population where drug and marijuana use is on the rise. At least 23 divers died in 2013, while about 1500 divers have been handicapped in recent years.

Despite such hazards, these men continually venture out to sea to earn approximately seven dollars per kilo of lobster. However, they are only paid for the weight of the tails. 90% of the lobsters are exported to the USA, where demand continues to increase.

Part of a Central America-wide agreement, lobster diving was banned in 2013. Though Honduras was one of the countries that agreed on paper, 75 % of the economy on the north coast still thrives off of lobster diving.

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Deported from US: Facing the Journey ...
Guatemala and Honduras
By Karim + Jenny
11 Sep 2014

Text by Jenny Gustafsson and Photos by Karim Mostafa

A crowd has gathered on the grass outside Guatemala City’s airport. They wait patiently, wander back and forth outside the gates. Suddenly a plane appears in the sky, sinks down behind the wall. This is what everyone has been waiting for – one of several daily flights arriving with men and women deported from the United States. “I’m here to meet my brother. He called us yesterday saying that he was coming back today,” says Azucely, a young woman with one child resting on her hip and another playing at her feet. Her brother had been in the US for five years, she says, when he got caught without papers. Azucely herself went through the same thing only a year before. “I had been in the US for nine years when I was deported, all the time without papers. I have three kids born over there. I left Guatemala when I was young, only 14. My mum took a bank loan to send me. She did the same with my brothers too.” Azucely relates a common narrative among young people from the region, who are migrating in ever-growing numbers. The Central American immigrant population in the U.S. has nearly tripled since the 1990s, and now makes up the fastest-growing segment of its Latino population. But the story for many ends suddenly. Over 2 million people have been deported during Obama’s years in power – more than any other period in the past. “Each week, between nine and 14 flights land here, full with people. Most come with nothing at all,” says Mario Hernández at Guatemala City’s airport.

FULL ARTICLE AVAILABLE ON REQUEST 

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Central America Immigrants 07
San Pedro Sula, Honduras
By Karim + Jenny
11 Sep 2014

A chartered flight with deported migrants lands at San Pedro Sula's airport. Lidia de Souza, who works with receiving the migrants, says the numbers today are 10 to 20 times higher than when she started working in the 1990s.

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Central America Immigrants 13
Guatemala City, Guatemala
By Karim + Jenny
11 Sep 2014

Four men just arrived to Guatemala City on a flight from the U.S. are reflected in the airport window. They are given juice and tortillas, and the NGO Asociación de Apoyo Integral al Migrante help them with one phone call and advice – but once they step outside the airport gates they are on their own.

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Central America Immigrants 14
Guatemala City, Guatemala
By Karim + Jenny
11 Sep 2014

A man walks out from Guatemala City's airport, carrying only a small bag in his hand. The number of Central American migrants arriving in the U.S. informally is on the rise, including that of unaccompanied children. The reasons for leaving the region are many – not least the high levels of violence and lack of social and economical security.

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Surviving in Honduras' Murder Capital
San Pedro Sula, Honduras
By Karim + Jenny
02 Sep 2014

Text by Jenny Gustafsson and Photos by Karim Mostafa
San Pedro Sula, the industrial capital of Honduras, near the border with Guatemala. It is known for its tropical climate, its friendly attitude – and its murders. For years in a row, the city has topped global homicide statistics, with over 170 killings per 100,000 inhabitants yearly. People in the city have become accustomed to the violence – and drawn into it. Most residents of the city are affected in one way or another by killings and assaults.
The city’s zonas rojas (red zones) are hardened by gang criminality; in well-to-do areas, people live their lives behind locked and barbed-wired gates. Orlin, a cameraman at one of Honduras’ TV stations, drives his car on a dark road leading out from the city. He has two mobile phones in his lap, and a gun. Each night, he drives around collecting footage from crime scenes around the city. The channel he works for is known for broadcasting raw, uncensored footage. “Everything happens during the night. Shootings, assaults. This is what I do every day, since I started to work with this as a 16-year-old,” he says.
In another part of the city, ‘La Fresa’, a young man with a football t-shirt, agrees to meet in an empty office. He carries a weapon as well, puts it on the table in front of him. “I have several guns, fifteen all in all. But this is my favorite. It’s killed 32 people.” La Fresa’s life is conditioned by violence as well, in a very direct way. He’s a sicario, a hit man – works with assassinating people for money. “I feel no guilt. It’s their destiny. If I felt guilt I couldn’t do this.”
FULL ARTICLE AVAILABLE ON REQUEST

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Honduras murder capital 05
San Pedro Sula, Honduras
By Karim + Jenny
02 Sep 2014

Hilma Fuentes, one of few remaining residents on a street that used to be a scene of recurring gang confrontations. Most of her neighbours have left, found temporary homes elsewhere in the city.

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Honduras murder capital 06
San Pedro Sula, Honduras
By Karim + Jenny
02 Sep 2014

A policeman in Chamelecón, a large suburb in southern San Pedro Sula known for its insecurity and socio-economic hardships. The text on the police car says “Serve and Protect” – but the Honduran police force, known to be corrupt and violent, enjoys little trust among people.

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Honduras murder capital 07
San Pedro Sula, Honduras
By Karim + Jenny
02 Sep 2014

‘La Fresa’, a 27-year-old with one son, has worked as a sicaro, hit man, since he was 16. He has killed 60 people he said, mostly politicians and businessmen. His ‘organisation’ has established rules, for instance to not assassinate women and children, and think of themselves as providers of law and order in a society that has none.

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Honduras murder capital 08
San Pedro Sula, Honduras
By Karim + Jenny
02 Sep 2014

Hilma Fuentes and her neighbour, in her small fenced-off garden. Many houses in San Pedro Sula have walls and gates – certainly in well-to-do areas but also in poorer parts like Chamelecón.

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Honduras murder capital 09
San Pedro Sula, Honduras
By Karim + Jenny
02 Sep 2014

Marciela Mayorga, a resident of Chamelecón who runs a church project to revitalize the area. Kids and youth are encouraged to join and plant corn on the land that used to be occupied by gang members.

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Honduras murder capital 10
San Pedro Sula, Honduras
By Karim + Jenny
02 Sep 2014

A man takes a nap at Cuerpo de Bomberos in San Pedro Sula, the city’s rescue service which has many volunteers among its ranks.

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Honduras murder capital 11
San Pedro Sula, Honduras
By Karim + Jenny
02 Sep 2014

Chris Padilla, a resident of San Pedro Sula who runs a yoga center, has had several personal experiences with violence. It was only by luck that she escaped a kidnap attempt, which changed her entire sense of personal safety. Recently, her uncle was shot by mistake by a hit man assigned to assassinate a person in the same car, and her sister was killed by her husband.

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Honduras murder capital 12
San Pedro Sula, Honduras
By Karim + Jenny
02 Sep 2014

Inside the main entrance of San Pedro Sula’s public hospital, one of only two big public hospitals in Honduras. The doctor Raul Zelaya says they are unable to help everyone who needs care, and patients often have to pay for essential things like anesthesia and surgery material.

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Honduras murder capital 13
San Pedro Sula, Honduras
By Karim + Jenny
02 Sep 2014

The public hospital in San Pedro Sula, which is constantly under-staffed and lacking resources. The army was last year placed in charge of the hospital – an example of what many claim is an increasing militarization of Honduran society.

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Honduras murder capital 14
San Pedro Sula, Honduras
By Karim + Jenny
02 Sep 2014

José Israel, the father of four, at the public hospital in San Pedro Sula. He was shot by mistake when someone opened fire at a bar. He still has two bullets in his cheek and leg, but lacks the money to have them removed. Good health care is expensive in Honduras, where 65% of the population lives in poverty.

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Honduras murder capital 15
San Pedro Sula, Honduras
By Karim + Jenny
02 Sep 2014

Outside the emergency ward at the main public hospital in San Pedro Sula, where military men now guard the doors. “The hospital now has boots and guns, but not even basic medicine,” says Karen Meija, a civil rights activist.

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Honduras murder capital 03
San Pedro Sula, Honduras
By Karim + Jenny
02 Sep 2014

A member of the forensic medicine team investigates the place where a man was killed earlier in the evening. The body is not there any more, the relatives came and took it away. They prefer to take care of it and bury it themselves, not trusting the police and criminal investigation.

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Honduras murder capital 04
San Pedro Sula, Honduras
By Karim + Jenny
02 Sep 2014

A street in Chamelecón, one of San Pedro Sula’s ‘zonas rojas’, red zones, where levels of violence and insecurity are high. The police say they have restored safety in this particular part. But trust in the Honduran police force is low and their presence does not necessarily mean safety for residents.

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Central America Immigrants 08
San Pedro Sula, Honduras
By Karim + Jenny
27 Aug 2014

Two security personnel waiting outside the airport in San Pedro Sula, the second largest city in Honduras. Every day, one flight in the morning and one in the afternoon arrive with deported migrants from the U.S..

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Central America Immigrants 09
San Pedro Sula, Honduras
By Karim + Jenny
27 Aug 2014

Adrian Peña Carratero, a father of two, on the free bus taking arriving migrants from San Pedro Sula's airport to the bus station. He has everything in the U.S., he says, as he has lived there all his life.

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Honduras murder capital 01
San Pedro Sula, Honduras
By Karim + Jenny
25 Aug 2014

Violence and insecurity conditions much of life in the city. Many neighbourhoods are gated and guarded by security. People often avoid walking outside, and moving around many areas in the city.

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Central America Immigrants 11
San Pedro Sula, Honduras
By Karim + Jenny
22 Aug 2014

Julio Torres, who was born in the U.S., lived all his life undocumented. Three years ago, he was deported. He now works at a call center in San Pedro Sula, dubbed for several years in the row 'the most dangerous city in the world', with extremely high homicide rates. All across Central American cities, these call centers are set up, and young people deported from the U.S. are recruited straight from the airport – their language skills and intercultural backgrounds make them ideal employees.

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Central America Immigrants 01
San Pedro Sula, Honduras
By Karim + Jenny
21 Aug 2014

A man and a boy waiting for a flight with deported migrants to land at the airport in San Pedro Sula, Honduras. The country has among the highest homicide rates in the world – San Pedro Sula has topped the list several years in a row – and widespread poverty, currently at 65% of the population.

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Central America Immigrants 06
San Pedro Sula, Honduras
By Karim + Jenny
21 Aug 2014

Sister Valdete Wilemann and her colleagues, working at the non-civilian part of San Pedro Sula's airport where two daily flights land with deported migrants from the U.S.. Many have been caught at the border trying to enter, others have lived their entire lives in the country.

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Honduras murder capital 02
San Pedro Sula, Honduras
By Karim + Jenny
19 Aug 2014

A street in central San Pedro Sula, the second largest city in Honduras. For several years in a row, it has topped the list of most dangerous cities in the world, with over 170 homicides per year per 100 000 residents.

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Central America Immigrants 02
Guatemala City, Guatemala
By Karim + Jenny
12 Aug 2014

The young daughter of Azucely, who was deported in 2013, looks underneath the gate to the airport in Guatemala City. They are waiting outside for Azucely's brother, who was also deported and is arriving with the next flight.

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Central America Immigrants 03
Guatemala City, Guatemala
By Karim + Jenny
12 Aug 2014

Azucely and her youngest daughter waiting for Azucely's brother to arrive at the airport in Guatemala City. Their mother had taken bank loans to pay for the siblings' trip with coyotes, organised smugglers, to cross the border to the United States. But eventually, both of them were deported back to Guatemala.

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Central America Immigrants 04
Guatemala City, Guatemala
By Karim + Jenny
12 Aug 2014

Azucely from San Marcos, nearby Guatemala's border with Mexico, waiting for a flight with deported migrants arriving at the airport in Guatemala City. Every day, families gather outside to pick up returning relatives, as do taxis and buses bringing people back to rural parts of Guatemala where most migrants come from.

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Central America Immigrants 05
Guatemala City, Guatemala
By Karim + Jenny
12 Aug 2014

The mother of Azucely, who sees her son for the first time in five years. Many people in Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, called the 'Northern Triangle', are separated from family members who have left in search of better opportunities and safety in the United States.

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Central America Immigrants 12
Guatemala City, Guatemala
By Karim + Jenny
12 Aug 2014

Three friends who just arrived at the airport in Guatemala City. Most people arrive with nothing or very little – they carry plastic bags with whatever belongings they brought with them.

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child labor in guatemala 06
Chiquimula, Guatemala
By Daniel Van Moll
27 Jan 2014

A young boy on his work to a coffee plantation (Chiquimula, Guatemala in January 2014).

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child labor in guatemala 07
Chiquimula, Guatemala
By Daniel Van Moll
27 Jan 2014

The majority of child labor in Guatemala occurs in agriculture in rural areas (Chiquimula, Guatemala).

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child labor in guatemala 08
Chiquimula, Guatemala
By Daniel Van Moll
27 Jan 2014

Children are also reportedly subjected to forced labor in agriculture, though public information is not available on the goods these children produce (Chiquimula, Guatemala).

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child labor in guatemala 09
Chiquimula, Guatemala
By Daniel Van Moll
27 Jan 2014

The majority of child labor in Guatemala occurs in agriculture in rural areas (Chiquimula, Guatemala).

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Chiquimula, Guatemala
By Daniel Van Moll
27 Jan 2014

A boy working illegally on a coffee plantation near Chiquimula, Guatemala.

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Chiquimula, Guatemala
By Daniel Van Moll
27 Jan 2014

A young child on the load area of a pick-up truck which brings workers to remote coffee plantations near Chiquimula, Guatemala.

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Chiquimula, Guatemala
By Daniel Van Moll
27 Jan 2014

A young child on the load area of a pick-up truck which brings workers to remote coffee plantations near Chiquimula, Guatemala.

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child labor in guatemala 13
Chiquimula, Guatemala
By Daniel Van Moll
27 Jan 2014

A young boy helping to harvest beans on a coffee plantation (Chiquimula, Guatemala).

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child labor in guatemala 14
Chiquimula, Guatemala
By Daniel Van Moll
27 Jan 2014

A young boy helping to harvest beans on a coffee plantation (Chiquimula, Guatemala).