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People of Kathmandu 3
Kathmandu, Nepal
By Noe Falk Nielsen
31 Mar 2015

Rickshaw in Thamel, Kathmandu on 31 March 2015. The tourism industry blossoms creating jobs for upwards half a million people.

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On Deaf Ears 4
Rua Alcindo Guanabara, 78-122 - Centro, Rio de Janeiro - RJ, 20031-130,Brazil
By Antonio Franco
30 Mar 2015

A pregnant woman gives a friend a back massage at 2:00 AM as other sleep and rotate shifts. As some sleep, others stay awake to watch for police.

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On Deaf Ears 5
Rua Alcindo Guanabara, 78-122 - Centro, Rio de Janeiro - RJ, 20031-130,Brazil
By Antonio Franco
30 Mar 2015

Andressa (alias), 20, posing for a portrait. Andressa spoke about leaving her boyfriend that day after he hit her. Despite this, they were seen cuddling 20 minutes later.

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On Deaf Ears 2
Rua Alcindo Guanabara, 78-122 - Centro, Rio de Janeiro - RJ, 20031-130,Brazil
By Antonio Franco
27 Mar 2015

Hiogo, 23, (center) emaciated. Food was scarce in the camp and usually consisted of stale crackers obtained from the homeless shelter or pasta made at a friends house and brought over. Hiogo is a day laborer working construction and in recent months has struggled to find work.

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On Deaf Ears 7
Rua Alcindo Guanabara, 78-122 - Centro, Rio de Janeiro - RJ, 20031-130,Brazil
By Antonio Franco
27 Mar 2015

Homeless women play cards to pass the time as they sit on their signs. Residents of a favela live effectively in a dictatorship run by drug gangs. The idea of using free speech to demand their rights is new to many of them.

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On Deaf Ears 10
Rua Alcindo Guanabara, 78-122 - Centro, Rio de Janeiro - RJ, 20031-130,Brazil
By Antonio Franco
27 Mar 2015

Stephany B., 24, (right) does nails as they talk about politics. Stephany said she wants a house with a yard so she can do nails and earn a living from home.

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Rio's Homeless Sidelined in the Name ...
Rua Alcindo Guanabara, 78-122 - Centro, Rio de Janeiro - RJ, 20031-130,Brazil
By Antonio Franco
26 Mar 2015

On the morning of March 26th, 2015, roughly 100 families were forcibly evicted from their homes by police in an abandoned lot in downtown Rio De Janeiro.  “If you don’t leave peacefully, you’ll leave when the bullets come down”, a police officer threatened, recalled M., a young black man who requested anonymity. By all accounts police were merciless in their eviction and went as far as confiscating simple things like hammers and pliers, allegedly for safety concerns.

Again homeless, the evicted families decided to sleep on the steps of City Hall and ensure their demands for affordable housing be heard. “People think we’re trying to rob them, but in fact we’re running away from that”, Fernando M., 48, said in desperation. Like Fernando, many of the evicted people were escaping the undeclared war between police and drug gangs in the city's Favelas, or slums. While the government does offer a growing number of public housing projects for the poor, few find them desirable to live in as they are still under the control of hostile drug gangs. Instead, these people set up homes in safer areas in the center of the city. 

Other evictees were crushed by soaring rent stemming from Olympic makeovers in their communities. Fernando recalled his rent only a few years ago was R$200 ($65 USD) and now has ballooned to over R$500 ($160 USD). Others are simply unemployed due to a sagging economy. Stuck in a catch-22, many are now unemployable because they have no fixed address.

As the days passed, the echoes of their discontent landed on the deaf ears of a bureaucratic and incompetent local government. In the end, no official action was taken by the city to ameliorate their situation. They eventually left their makeshift occupation by City Hall one-by-one. On April 6th, the remaining dozen or so families that had not left earlier decided to abandon the camp. Many of them found temporary housing in shelters, a friend’s house or other clandestine encampments throughout out the city.

Despite their efforts, the evicted families improvised war of attrition with local authorities is lost and their grievances continue unanswered. 

These photos offer an intimate portraite of some of Brazil's most neglected people.

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Cuba's New Entrepreneurs 17
Santa Clara
By Conteur d'images
26 Mar 2015

The happy owner of a large freezer in good condition, José opened a tiny butcher shop in his kitchen. The main window opens on a street corner with heavy traffic, thus he has no trouble finding customers who naturally stop in front of his home early in the morning or returning home after their working day.

Heureux propriétaire d'un grand congélateur en bon état de marche, José a ouvert il y a peu une boucherie dans la cuisine de sa maison dont la fenêtre principale ouvre sur un coin de rue à fort passage. Il n'a ainsi aucun mal à trouver des clients qui s'arrêtent naturellement devant chez lui en quittant leur domicile le matin ou en rentrant chez eux après leur journée de travail le soir.

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On Deaf Ears 1
Rua Alcindo Guanabara, 78-122 - Centro, Rio de Janeiro - RJ, 20031-130,Brazil
By Antonio Franco
25 Mar 2015

Recently evicted from an abandoned lot in downtown Rio, a now homeless man begins to spontaneously pose for a portrait. Tensions were high as just hours earlier they were evicted at gunpoint from a plot belonging to the Rio de Janeiro state water company, CEDAE.

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On Deaf Ears 16
Praça Floriano, 176-242 - Centro, Rio de Janeiro - RJ, 20031-007,Brazil
By Antonio Franco
25 Mar 2015

New construction projects tower over the ruble of recently bulldozed shacks. Over 100 families lived on this abandoned plot belonging to CEDAE, the state water company. This area was once blighted and is now being renovated for the Olympic games.

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On Deaf Ears 13
Praça Floriano, 176-242 - Centro, Rio de Janeiro - RJ, 20031-007,Brazil
By Antonio Franco
25 Mar 2015

Homeless workers stand in attention at the steps of city hall as a meeting is called to discuss their housing situation. Behind them stands the Municipal Theater, which was remodeled at a cost of over $30 million dollars in 2010.

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On Deaf Ears 14
Praça Floriano, 176-242 - Centro, Rio de Janeiro - RJ, 20031-007,Brazil
By Antonio Franco
25 Mar 2015

A pensive moment on the steps of city hall as recently displaced homeless workers rest after being evicted at 5 AM by police.

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On Deaf Ears 15
Praça Floriano, 176-242 - Centro, Rio de Janeiro - RJ, 20031-007,Brazil
By Antonio Franco
25 Mar 2015

Homeless workers gather to hear proposed solutions from a mediator from the city council. Through donations, they managed to raise nearly $150 USD for diapers and food for the children. However, no permanent solution was found.

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Cuba's New Entrepreneurs 16
Santa Clara
By Conteur d'images
22 Mar 2015

Formerly a cook in a hotel, Bolo became a tailor and opened a sewing workshop at home. In his small house, he repairs clothes and shoes for the people of his neighbourhood and also manufactures custom clothes from recycled fabric scraps.

Ancien cuisinier dans un hôtel, Bolo est aujourd'hui tailleur et a ouvert son atelier de couture à domicile. Dans sa petite maison composée d'une seule pièce il répare les vêtements des habitants de son quartier et confectionne des vêtements sur mesure à partir de chutes de tissu recyclés.

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Cuba's New Entrepreneurs 18
Santa Clara
By Conteur d'images
22 Mar 2015

David is a former professor of English at the University of Santa Clara. Tired of working for state academia, he opened his own language school on the first floor of his aunt's house, currently under construction. He alternates teaching French, English and German.

David est un ancien professeur d'anglais de l'Université de Santa Clara. Lassé de travailler pour l'État de façon trop académique, il a ouvert sa propre école de langues au premier étage de la maison de sa tante encore en construction. Il y enseigne en alternance le Français, l'Anglais et l'Allemand.

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Cuba's New Entrepreneurs 19
Santa Clara
By Conteur d'images
19 Mar 2015

A native of Santa Clara, Dianevis has linen garments manufactured in Trinidad and sells them on her doorstep. Recently, the construction of a luxury hotel started just above the road that passes in front of her house. The prospect of this massive influx of tourists makes her happy because her business is going to grow exponentially.

Originaire de Santa Clara, Dianevis fabrique à Trinidad des vêtements en lin et les vend sur le pas de sa porte. Depuis peu, un hôtel de luxe se construit juste au dessus du chemin qui passe devant sa maison. La perspective de cette arrivée massive de touristes la réjouit car son commerce va ainsi se développer de façon exponentielle.

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People of Kathmandu 2
Kathmandu, Nepal
By Noe Falk Nielsen
12 Mar 2015

Old homeless woman staring at the pigeons at Durbar Square in Kathmandu on 12 March 2015. Nepal ranks 145th out of 187 countries on UNDP's Development Index from 2013 with 30% living on less than half a dollar per day. The subsistence economy is widespread, but poverty is visible everywhere.

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People of Kathmandu 1
Kathmandu, Nepal
By Noe Falk Nielsen
10 Mar 2015

Nepalese woman enjoying the morning sun in Kathmandu on 10 March 2015. As the traditional family structures change increasingly replaced by western style nuclear families the elderly people experience seclusion and isolation.

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Cuba's New Entrepreneurs 15
Santa Clara
By Conteur d'images
03 Mar 2015

Juan Ramon, a resident of the small town of Remedios, built a pension for fighting roosters on his land. The 17 roosters are trained, cared for and housed in the shadows of long wooden houses. Juan Ramon does not ask the roosters' oweners for direct compensation, but takes 20% of each bet won in battle. He plucks the roosters in the back, torso and thighs to prevent them from sweating. This also makes their wounds more visible during the battle in order to stop the fight in time.

Juan Ramon, lui aussi résidant de Remedios, a construit une pension pour coqs de combat sur son terrain. Les 17 coqs de sa pension sont entrainés, soignés et logés dans des cases particulières à l’ombre de longues maisonnettes de bois. il ne demande pas de rémunération directe aux propriétaires des coqs mais prend 20% de chaque mise remportée lors des combats. Il déplume les coqs au niveau du dos, du torse et des cuisses pour leur éviter de transpirer. Cela permet également que les blessures soient plus visibles afin d’arrêter les combats à temps.

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Cuba's New Entrepreneurs 12
Santa Clara
By Conteur d'images
02 Mar 2015

The phenomenon of family houses transformed into shops also affects the countryside. In the small village of Remedios, north of Santa Clara, Dixie has just started a pig farm in the backyard of her house. Since Fidel Castro nationalized all the farms in 1959, raising cattle at home was simply unthinkable. Now Dixie can sell her hogs - the main source of protein in the Cuban diet - for between 80 and 100 dollars each.

Le phénomène des maisons familiales transformées en boutiques touche aussi la campagne. Dans le petit village de Remedios, au nord de Santa Clara, Dixie vient de commencer un élevage de porcs dans la cour arrière de sa maison. Depuis 1959 et la nationalisation de toutes les exploitations agricoles par Fidel Castro, élever du bétail chez soi était tout simplement impensable. Aujourd’hui elle peut vendre ses porcs - principale source des protéines dans l’alimentation cubaine - entre 80 et 100 dollars chacun.

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Domestic Workers Face 'Modern Slavery...
Hong Kong
By Miguel Candela
01 Mar 2015

320,000 migrant women are exposed to all kinds of physical and psychological abuse in the domestic service sector of Hong Kong. This story is a testimony of their experiences and struggles.

After being repeatedly abused and realizing that her situation would not improve, in a desperate attempt, Kamsiah ran away from her employer's house without money or documentation. Subsequently she was accused of stealing her employer's wallet which was said to contain around 900 US Dollars. Unfortunately, false accusations are a common practice to pressure migrant workers and avoid paying the wages owed to them. Barefooted, without money nor documentation, she sought refuge in a 24-hour fast food restaurant and waited until another compatriot helped her and took her to a shelter.

Esther C. Bangkawayan is the director of Bethune House shelter, where foreign domestic helpers who suffer abuse find shelter, food, and legal advice. They now house about a dozen women in trouble, but at times they even have to squeeze around 20 people in the small house nestled beside a church in Kowloon. A domestic helper herself, Esther is campaigning the government to scrap two rules she deems unfair: one which forbids employees from changing their employers more than three times a year, and another one which doesn’t allow them from changing to work at another sector of the economy.

42 year old filipino domestic helper Grace signed a misleading labour contract to work in Hong Kong but she instead ended up in Dalian, a northeast Chinese city 1,979 km far from Hong Kong. After confronting her employer about the situation, Grace was put into a return flight to Hong Kong without her pending salary and with only 200 RMB in her wallet. Grace has made now a formal complaint against the recruitment agency which made her labour contract. However, she is not very optimistic regarding her chances of recovering the debt of 40,000 pesos she currently has in the Philippines.

Eni Lestari, Indonesian, is the spokesperson for the Justice for Erwiana Committee. A domestic helper herself, she hopes to get justice for one of her compatriots, Erwiana Sulistyaningsih, who came to Hong Kong seeking for a better life and future but instead found a form of modern slavery. Erwiana’€™s employers hit her so severely that her brain has sustained irreversible injuries. As a result, she is unable to walk properly and has blurred vision. Her employer punched Erwiana so violently that her teeth cracked. She was sent to Indonesia with her body full of bruises and 8 US dollars in her pocket. Outraged immigrants like Lestari demand now justice and prison for her attackers. The Court has already declared them guilty and sentence is pending.

On Sundays thousands of Indonesian women gather in the streets and public spaces around Hong Kong to take advantage of their only day off. Most take their own food and an umbrella and talk to their friends all day long.

“€œWe barely have any money, so we have to take our lunch from our employer's house and sit in any public space that we can so we can enjoy our leisure time with our friends,”€ said Kamsiah.

To enjoy their free time and to get to know other immigrant workers in Hong Kong, immigrant groups organize activities for the women, such as beauty contests and self-defense classes in Victoria Park.  Persaudaraan Setia Hati Terate Fight Club teaches women to protect themselves from abusive employers.

Not only helping the women get away from the world of domestic work for the little time they have off or boosting their ability to defend themselves, such activities are the only social contact many have; and friends made during Sundays can be of great importance when difficulties arise.

FULL ARTICLE AVAILABLE ON REQUEST

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Chernobyl Safety Financial Challenges
Chernobyl
By gzhygalov
27 Feb 2015

REPORT EXAMPLE: Chernobyl Safety Financial Challenges. Work continues to make the Chernobyl site safe. But the conflict in eastern Ukraine has created new financial challenges for the Ukrainian authorities. Austerity measures were introduced due to the conflict in the east.

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Cuba's New Entrepreneurs 11
Santa Clara
By Conteur d'images
23 Feb 2015

A new homeowner, Emilio pays the Cuban state $15 a month for the right to use his home for commercial purposes. He decided to offer his auto mechanic services to the few people who own a car. Most models that he repairs are American cars from the 50s, and he must therefore show great ingenuity to overcome the shortage of spare parts - a direct consequence of the US embargo.

Nouvellement propriétaire de son logement, Émilio paye à l’état cubain 15 dollars par mois pour avoir le droit de l’utiliser à des fins commerciales. Il a décidé d’offrir dans son garage des services de mécanique auto aux quelques habitants qui possèdent une voiture. La plupart des modèles qu’il répare sont des voitures américaines des années 50. Il doit donc faire preuve d’une grande ingéniosité pour pallier à la pénurie de pièces de rechange dont l’importation est bloquée par l’embargo américain.

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Cuba's New Entrepreneurs 13
Santa Clara
By Conteur d'images
19 Feb 2015

Since 10 November 2011, a new law has allowed Cuban citizens and permanent residents of the island to buy and sell homes. Even if they can not own more than two houses, one in the city and another in the countryside, this measure already promotes the emergence of a new upper class in the Cuban society. Christina, who transformed her salon into a furniture and antique shop for tourists, plans to sell her large colonial-style house 80,000 dollars.

Depuis le 10 novembre 2011, une nouvelle loi autorise les citoyens cubains et les résidents permanents de l'île à acheter et vendre des maisons. Même s’ils ne peuvent pas posséder plus de deux maisons, une en ville et une autre à la campagne, cette mesure favorise déjà l’émergence d’une nouvelle classe sociale financièrement aisée. Christina, qui a ouvert dans son salon une boutique de mobilier antique pour les touristes, prévoit de vendre sa grande maison de style colonial 80 000 dollars à un expatrié de retour au pays.

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Roving Barefoot for Propane Gas
Sanaa
By Yousef Mawry
18 Feb 2015

February 17, 2015

Sana'a, Yemen
 
The Yemeni population is once again faced with a severe shortage of propane gas. This has caused much grief among poverty stricken Yemeni families who make up the majority of the Yemeni population. Fifteen-year-old Bashir Merhibi is the eldest son in a Yemeni family. Bashir struggles on a daily basis to find propane gas to cook food. Instead of going to school in the morning, Bashir is forced to search the streets barefoot for propane gas in a number of neighborhoods in the Yemeni capital. A Transterra contributor spent the day with Bashir Merhibi as he searched for propane tanks. He would roll his 40-pound empty tank along the road with his feet through many neighborhoods hoping to take a full tank home to his family so they can cook their food. Unfortunately Bashir was unable to obtain any propane gas as the price had increased to 1,900 Yemeni Rial (almost $9), and he only had 1,200 Rial. The severe gas shortage in Yemen is due to disgruntled tribesmen who occasionally blow up gas pipelines and block supply routes in the province of Ma'rib to pressure the Yemeni government to meet their demands. The shortage of gas in Yemen has resulted in a price hike of propane gas, which many Yemeni families cannot afford.
 

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Roving Barefoot for Propane Gas (roug...
Sana'a, Yemen
By Yousef Mawry
18 Feb 2015

February 17, 2015
Sana'a, Yemen

The Yemeni population is once again faced with a severe shortage of propane gas. This has caused much grief among poverty stricken Yemeni families who make up the majority of the Yemeni population. Fifteen-year-old Bashir Merhibi is the eldest son in a Yemeni family. Bashir struggles on a daily basis to find propane gas to cook food. Instead of going to school in the morning, Bashir is forced to search the streets barefoot for propane gas in a number of neighborhoods in the Yemeni capital. A Transterra contributor spent the day with Bashir Merhibi as he searched for propane tanks. He would roll his 40-pound empty tank along the road with his feet through many neighborhoods hoping to take a full tank home to his family so they can cook their food. Unfortunately Bashir was unable to obtain any propane gas as the price had increased to 1,900 Yemeni Rial (almost $9), and he only had 1,200 Rial. The severe gas shortage in Yemen is due to disgruntled tribesmen who occasionally blow up gas pipelines and block supply routes in the province of Ma'rib to pressure the Yemeni government to meet their demands. The shortage of gas in Yemen has resulted in a price hike of propane gas, which many Yemeni families cannot afford.

Transcription

Sound bite, Bashir Merhibi, (Man, Arabic)
"My name is Bashir, I am 15 years old and I am in the ninth grade. Instead of going to school, I wake up and go searching for propane gas with this tank, and this tank has been through all kinds of streets. From street to street and from station to station, I have kicked and pushed this tank with my hands and with my feet".

"I have been searching for gas since seven in the morning; I haven’t eaten breakfast or lunch. I drank water and ate a biscuit from the store and that’s it and continue to search and search for gas in a number of streets and propane gas stations. In this country, you have to search for everything. Nothing comes without struggle. Just like this: this is an example of Yemen. They give you gas like this: drip-by-drip".

"I started my search at seven in the morning and the time now is five pm. After searching for gas in many streets and many stations, I finally found one. I thought I was going to pump gas, so I waited in line until I reached the front."

"I asked the owner how much? And, he replied, ‘1900’ (Yemeni Riyal.) I then told him, “Fear god! The original price is 1200 (Yemeni Riyal) and you want to sell it for 1900?” I tried to plead with him and told him I only have 1200; however, he told me to either pay 1900 or go home. We argued and argued and almost got into a fight. I took my tank and told him all I have with me is 1200."

Sound bite, Kamal Ali Ahamed - Propane Gas Store Owner, (Man, Arabic)
“The cause of gas shortage is due to the low gas production from Safer. The Safer Gas Company fills 39 propane trucks every day; however, there are 1200 propane trucks queuing in line at Safer Company waiting to fill their gas trucks so they can distribute gas throughout the nation. This has led to fewer propane truck deliveries to the Yemeni capital. Because of this, only 150 to 200 propane trucks make deliveries per week. This has led to higher demands for gas in the Yemeni capital, while there are fewer gas deliveries."

"The second reason is there are now more cars which run on propane gas. In 2014, nearly 67 thousand cars that run on gas entered the county. This resulted in a higher demands for gas; however, the gas production in Safer (Mareb province) is only sufficient enough for the use of average households only."

Sound bite: Bashir Merhibi, (Man, Arabic)
"No car, no motorbike and no bicycle. I am just like all other Yemenis, I have to kick and push, kick and push from street to street and from gas station to gas station Sometimes, I find a station with propane gas however, there are long lines which reach up to 500 to 600 tanks. When I reach the station, people usually try to cut in line in front of me, which results in heated arguments and sometimes fights. I don’t know what else to do. This is very depressing. The gas problem in Yemen is very depressing."

Sound bite: Abdurahman al-Yemani - Citizen, (Man, Arabic)
“We want a solution to the gas problem; we been waiting in line since the morning. All of us have haven’t ate lunch. The rich people are living comfortably because they have gas; however, we the average workers have to spend all day waiting in line. Will they ever have mercy on us, or are we going to continue living like this?"

Sound bite: Bashir Merhibi, (Man, Arabic) "Unfortunately, I am now going home and I don’t know how to tell my mother and father that I couldn’t find gas. What will I tell them, what shall I do?"

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Salt mine on Ukrainian Frontline Rema...
Artemivsk, Ukraine
By Chris Collison
18 Feb 2015

As the bloody military conflict in eastern Ukraine drags on, work at the country’s largest salt mine continues, even though it operates just a few kilometers from heavy fighting between Russian-backed insurgents and Ukrainian forces.

Artemsol, in the town of Soledar in the Donetsk region, employs more than 3,000 local residents. It is the lifeblood of a community that has found itself on the front lines of the violent conflict.

Workers in the mine say they cannot leave because they need their jobs to survive.

The salt mine is facing financial setbacks after Russia blocked imports of its food-grade salt amid the conflict between the two former Soviet republics. Russia’s consumer watchdog has blocked imports of some Ukrainian food products for what it says are safety concerns. Ukraine and foreign observers say Russia is targeting certain industries to punish the Ukrainian economy.

The mine’s general director, Denys Fomenko, says the government-run company is looking for more clients in Europe, but ultimately he hopes Russia will reopen its borders to Artemsol.

Fighting in eastern Ukraine has forced many of the Donetsk region’s industries - mostly coal mines - to shut down. But Artemsol has managed to keep running.

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Cuba's New Entrepreneurs 07
Santa Clara
By Conteur d'images
17 Feb 2015

Cuban authorities are not very concerned about the origin of the products, however they are very strict in terms of sales taxes. Thus, an amount of $ 1,000 is requested each month to sell shoes against $ 200 for the sale of clothing. Added to this, some traders like Lidya don't have enough space in their house and pay up to $ 150 per month in rent for another house in which they operate their business.

Si les autorités cubaines ne sont pas très regardantes quant à la provenance des produits, elles sont en revanche très strictes en matière de taxes sur les ventes. Ainsi, un montant de 1000 dollars est demandé chaque mois pour avoir le droit de vendre des chaussures contre 200 dollars pour la vente de vêtements. Ajouté à cela, certains commerçants comme Lidya peuvent payer jusqu’à 150 dollars de loyer par mois car la maison dans laquelle ils exploitent leur commerce est celle d’un voisin, la leur étant trop petite.

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Cuba's New Entrepreneurs 04
Santa Clara
By Conteur d'images
15 Feb 2015

Antonio and Alexei own the most popular fashion store in the city. They see the liberalization of the cuban economy as the starting point of a new model of consumption that will greatly improve their living conditions. With the money they earn selling goods supplied by the Cuban diaspora, they can consume in other shops, hair salons and new restaurants. They say thus new economic system benefits all residents of Santa Clara.

Antonio et Alexeï tiennent la boutique de mode la plus prisée de la ville. Ils voient dans ce mode d’approvisionnement exclusivement cubain le point de départ d’un nouveau modèle de consommation qui va grandement améliorer leurs conditions de vie. Avec l’argent des ventes provenant de la marchandise fournie par Barbara et d’autres expatriés, ils peuvent à leur tour consommer dans les autres boutiques, salons de coiffure et nouveaux restaurants de la ville. Au final, c’est un circuit économique qui bénéficie à tous les habitants de Santa Clara.

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Cuba's New Entrepreneurs 10
Santa Clara
By Conteur d'images
12 Feb 2015

Thanks to reforms that gradually liberalize the economy, the purchasing power of the people of Santa Clara has increased, and they are now able to buy new bicycles made in a local factory on the outskirts of the city. Consequently, Yohany decided to transform her living room into a parking lot overlooking the street. The owners of bikes pay 25 cents an hour for the new service.

Grâce aux reformes qui libéralisent peu à peu l’économie, le pouvoir d’achat des habitants de Santa Clara augmente et ils sont aujourd’hui plus nombreux à pouvoir acheter des bicyclettes neuves, fabriquées dans une usine locale en périphérie de la ville. Yohany a donc décidé de transformer son salon donnant sur la rue en parc de stationnement. Les propriétaires des vélos, soucieux de ne pas se faire voler leur nouvelle acquisition pendant qu’ils font leur épicerie, payent 25 cents de l’heure pour que Yohany veille.

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Cuba's New Entrepreneurs 01
Santa Clara
By Conteur d'images
11 Feb 2015

Until today, Santa Clara is best known for being the first city conquered during the Cuban revolution by the troops of Che Guevara on December 28, 1958. Ironically, this city of 200,000 inhabitants in the center of the island is now at the forefront of economic liberalization in Cuba. Every month, dozens of private shops are opening downtown next to the deserted public stores.

Jusqu’à maintenant, Santa Clara était surtout connue pour avoir été la première ville conquise par les troupes de Che Guevara le 28 décembre 1958 lors de la révolution socialiste cubaine.
Ironie de l’histoire, cette ville de 200 000 habitants au centre de l’île est aujourd’hui à l’avant garde de la libéralisation de l’économie à Cuba. À deux pas des grands magasins d’état aux allées à moitié vides du boulevard Independancia, des dizaines de boutiques privées s’ouvrent chaque mois dans les rues populaires du centre-ville.

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Cuba's New Entrepreneurs 14
Santa Clara
By Conteur d'images
11 Feb 2015

The poorest Cubans - like Éduardo, who lives in the historic city of Trinidad - are victims of a disturbing trend emerging with the advent of private property: home evictions. He makes a living selling recovered mechanical parts and has occupied a room for free in his neighbour's house for more than fifteen years. Unfortunately, he must now leave the house because his neighbour wants to transform it into a souvenir shop for tourists.

Revers de la médaille, les cubains les plus pauvres comme Éduardo, qui réside dans la ville historique de Trinidad au sud de Santa Clara, sont victimes d’un phénomène inquiétant en train d’émerger avec l’avènement des propriétés privées : les expulsions mobilières.
Vivant de la vente de pièces mécaniques récupérées et occupant gracieusement depuis plus de quinze ans une pièce de la maison de son voisin, il doit aujourd’hui partir car celui-ci veut la rénover pour y installer une boutique de souvenirs pour les touristes.

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Cuba's New Entrepreneurs 08
Santa Clara
By Conteur d'images
10 Feb 2015

Carmen and Eldio opened a pizzeria in the kitchen of their home overlooking the street. Despite the simplicity of their pizzas - made with only paste, tomato puree and processed cheese - they remain dependent on shipments of processed food from abroad, which are still heavily rationed. Their menu board often remains blank for several days, except for coffee and local fruit juices.

Carmen et Eldio ont ouvert un restaurant pizzeria dans la cuisine de leur maison qui donne sur la rue. Malgré la simplicité de leurs pizzas – composées seulement de pâte, de purée de tomate et de fromage industriel – ils restent dépendants des arrivages de produits alimentaires usinés en provenance de l’étranger, toujours rationnés. Leur panneau de bois à côté de la porte, qui fait office de menu, peux donc rester vide, à l’exception du café et des jus de fruits locaux, pendant plusieurs jours.

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Cuba's New Entrepreneurs 05
Santa Clara
By Conteur d'images
08 Feb 2015

Lorenzo turned his dining room into a hairdressing salon. He argues that restrictive trade relations with the United States have a positive side since they prevent the installation of powerful foreign brands on the island, allowing the rise of Cuban entrepreneurship and the success of local businesses. For him, this perspective has even a taste of social revenge, since before 1960 and the law of Fidel Castro against racial segregation, Blacks were often exploited and confined to agricultural tasks.

Lorenzo a transformé sa salle à manger en salon de coiffure. Il affirme que la restriction des relations commerciales avec les États-Unis s’avère aujourd’hui bénéfique puisqu’elle empêche l’installation sur l’île de puissantes enseignes étrangères, favorisant ainsi l’entreprenariat et les futures "success story" d’entreprises locales. Pour lui, cette perspective a même un goût de revanche sociale puisqu’avant 1960 et la loi de Fidel Castro interdisant la ségrégation raciale, les noirs étaient le plus souvent exploités et cantonnés aux tâches agricoles.

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Cuba's New Entrepreneurs 06
Santa Clara
By Conteur d'images
08 Feb 2015

Miguel opens the traditional iron gates of his house to show the public his new merchandise. Since 14 January 2013 and the relaxation of the laws on passports, he frequently leaves the country to visit his cousin in Mexico where he buys fashionable clothing and designer shoes. Proud of his success, he earns today over 200 dollars a day. Recently, he hired a security guard to monitor the entrance to his house.

Miguel ouvre les traditionnelles portes en fer forgé de sa maison pour exposer au public sa nouvelle marchandise. Depuis le 14 janvier 2013 et l’assouplissement de la loi sur la délivrance des passeports, il peut sortir du pays comme bon lui semble et visiter son cousin au Mexique pour s’approvisionner en vêtements à la mode et chaussures de marque. Fier de sa réussite, il affirme gagner aujourd’hui plus de 200 dollars par jour. Depuis peu, il a d’ailleurs engagé un agent de sécurité pour surveiller l’entrée de sa maison.

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Cuba's New Entrepreneurs 09
Santa Clara
By Conteur d'images
04 Feb 2015

Gabriel is an independent artist, most of whose clients are gay, a feature that would have earned him a prison stay only a few years ago. Today, his bedroom has been converted into a tattoo boutique where he can practice his art freely. In 2008 Mariela Castro - daughter of the current president Raul Castro and director of the National Center for Sex Education of Cuba - approved a major law recognizing the rights of lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transsexuals.

Gabriel est un artiste indépendant dont la plupart des clients sont homosexuels, caractéristique qui lui aurait valu un séjour en prison il y a seulement quelques années. Aujourd’hui, sa chambre à coucher a été transformée en salon de tatouage où il peut exercer son art en toute liberté. Il doit en partie cela à Mariela Castro, fille de l’actuel président Raoul Castro et directrice du Centre national d'éducation sexuelle de Cuba, qui a fait approuver en 2008 une loi majeure reconnaissant les droits des lesbiennes, gays, transsexuels et bisexuels.

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Cuba's New Entrepreneurs 03
Santa Clara
By Conteur d'images
27 Jan 2015

Since 1962, Cuba has been the victim of an economic, commercial and financial embargo from the United States of America. To cope with this difficult situation that deprives people of the most common consumer goods, the Cuban diaspora took things into their own hands. Barbara is a former Salsa teacher who returned to Santa Clara after 16 years of exile in Europe. Several times a year she makes a trip between Italy and Cuba carrying suitcases full of clothes and electronic goods in order to supply the new private shops of the downtown area.

Depuis 1962 Cuba est victime de l’embargo économique, commercial et financier des États-Unis. Pour faire face à cette situation difficile qui prive la population des biens de consommation les plus courants, la diaspora cubaine a pris les choses en main. Barbara, professeure de Salsa revenue vivre à Santa Clara après 16 ans d’exil en Europe, fait plusieurs fois par an l’aller-retour entre l’Italie et Cuba les valises pleines de vêtements et d’appareils électroniques achetés à rabais pour approvisionner les maisons-boutiques du centre-ville.

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Living along Nicaragua’s Grand Canal
Rivas, Nicaragua
By Charlotte Bruneau
22 Jan 2015

A Chinese firm started construction on the Nicaragua Canal in late 2014 in the city of Rivas.  It is considered the world’s latest mega project and one of the largest engineering projects in history, expected to take five years to complete and to cost around 50 billion dollars, raising controversy and environmental concerns.

To win the Nicaraguan people’s support for the planned canal, the government of President Daniel Ortega launched an impressive propaganda campaign claiming that the canal would bring wealth and power to the nation. However, to make way for the canal, as many as 30,000 people will have to be displaced and dozens of villages erased from the map. Environmentalists worry about the ecological costs as well.

Kenny has finished his design degree a couple of months ago. During his studies, he built a model of the canal because he did not really know what it would look like: the most widespread criticism of the canal project is the lack of information provided by the government.

“The model’s design comes out of my imagination,"  explains Kenny while proudly opening and closing his model canal’s locks. "I tried to make sense of the scarce official information we receive. I invited the village’s children to participate in building the model to help them better understand the canal.”

While he is trying to find a job, he works in a car repair workshop. The workers there explain that, although they would like the canal to create employment opportunities for them, the Chinese are importing machines they don’t have the skills to handle. The government’s promise of employment is empty, they say.

“We have to learn how to better organize and protect ourselves," says one of Kenny's co-workers. "Some of us are already being followed by the government and I am sometimes scared to sleep at home. The government tries to scare families into keeping quiet while a number of foreign journalists were already expelled.”

The idea of having a trans-oceanic canal cutting through Nicaragua is hardly revolutionary. More than 150 years ago, the American businessman Cornelius Vanderbilt had already started digging but later stopped the project for lack of enough investors. Others, like the New Spain colonial administration or France’s Napoleon III considered, and later on abandoned, the idea of a Nicaraguan canal.

Now it is the Chinese’s turn to take on the Grand Canal’s challenge: 278 km long and at times 520 meters wide, the canal will allow for bulk carriers to navigate from the Pacific coast to the Caribbean. President Ortega, the former Marxist guerrilla revolutionary, granted the Chinese businessman Wang Jing’s HK Nicaragua Canal Development Investment Co. Ltd (HKND Group) a 50-year concession.  HKND says that the canal would create an estimated 50,000 jobs, but thousands of them would go to Chinese workers.

At the same time, the local population fears that Rivas might become a Chinese town when the Chinese workers arrive, bringing prostitution and high prices as Chinese goods flood the local markets. Indeed, the canal’s project is accompanied by a number of other projects. For instance, the HKND Group will be allowed to establish a number of so-called zonas francas, or tax free zones.

Such agreements between HKND and the Ortega government led a number of critics to assume that Wang Jing secretly acts on behalf of the Chinese government. While Nicaragua and Taiwan have good diplomatic relations, Beijing and Managua do not. Having private investors coming from the Chinese mainland to Nicaragua seems to be an alternative to diplomatic ties as far as business is concerned.

Worried about their future, people from Rivas have started to voice their discontent. Kenny takes us to his cousin’s uncle, Octavio Ortega, who says that the canal’s project has already been triggering opposition among the region’s campesinos (peasants) for two years.

After the opening ceremony for the construction was held on December 22, 2014, Ortega saw his fears materialize. He has since begun organizing a network of protest leaders throughout the country. For having participated in demonstrations, however, Octavio was violently beaten and jailed for over a week. A growing number of peasants who fought for the Sandinistas during the war have distanced themselves from Daniel Ortega’s government, saying he has betrayed them and accusing him of not being a “real Sandinista” anymore.

“We have to learn how to better organize and protect ourselves," says Octavio. "Some of us are already being followed by the government and I am sometimes scared to sleep at home. The government tries to scare families into keeping quiet while a number of foreign journalists were already expelled.”

Octavio explains how land property functions in Nicaragua, how many properties were redistributed during the Sandinista’s era in the 80’s. But now, the government passed a law that legalizes expropriation without compensating the occupants of a piece of land.

People living in the countryside around Rivas have no other choice than self-sustainability. On his patch of land, Ronal has pigs, cows, chicken, sugar cane and a number of vegetables. Although the canal does not pass through his land directly, he will be expropriated to make room for another “side project.” The vicinity of Lake Nicaragua and its pristine shores will be turned into tourist complexes.

Ronal’s family lives in Tolesmaida, close to Lake Nicaragua. Their village will be erased from the map as well. Villagers there show us the scars of the beatings they suffered in jail. On every house’s wall, they have painted Chinese characters reading “Chinese, get out!” The villagers do not only worry about the impact of mass tourism, but about the lake’s ecosystem as well. More pollution, traffic, noise and salinity will gravely endanger the largest freshwater resource in Latin America. Ronal thinks a lot about the social impact of the Chineses’ arrival. For many villagers, the pending arrival of the Chinese often feels like a modern conquistadora.

“I have heard that they worship dragons and animals,” he says. “The Chinese have a religion and customs so different from our that I wonder  whtether a coexistence will be possible Will they remain among themselves without talking to locals? Will they be violent? Will they try to influence our youths?”

“We are like a battalion,” shouts Ronal’s mother. “The whole family has been in jail and we are not scared to go again.”

We met Don Alejandro’s family in El Palmar, where a four-lane highway will replace the main local road. He has been the region’s guitar manufacturer for decades, and his grandchildren are now taking on the trade. We learned more about the family’s rhythm of life, their farming techniques and the way they see life as campesinos. The family is considering resettling in neighboring Costa Rica in order to remain farmers, should the construction of the road lead to their eviction.

“We barely have the necessary tools and ressources to survive as farmers here," says Don Alejandro. "As you see, everything is done with the machete and we have no tractors and machines to help us. On the other hand, we get to live a quiet life. What will happen to our lifestyle should the road nearby become a highway for trucks?"

The eastern city of Nueva Guinea is located in the eastern side on the Caribbean coast, seven hours by bus from the capital. The canal will be forty kilometers away from their city, and people do not feel directly concerned. Rodriguez is a journalist at Radio Luz, the local Christian radio. He is eager to see the beginning for the construction of the canal. He and his colleagues are tired of their country’s stagnation and they do want to see things change, especially economically.  

“Since the end of the war in Nicaragua, the whole region has stagnated," he says. "People did move back from larger cities to the more isolated regions because it was safe again. But the government didn’t extend regional opportunities as promised. Maybe the canal will change all this."

It takes a three hours hazardous bus ride to reach Puerto Principe from Nueva Guinea. And another six hours on a lancha, a small motorised boat, to arrive at Pollo de Desarollo, a village close to the Caribbean. The village lies on the banks of the Punta Gorda river, that will eventually be enlarged to become the canal. Dina lives with her two sons and daughter in the village’s center, which consists of a baseball field and a few dozen houses. She holds the local “comedor,” a canteen that offers hot meals.

”We didn’t know yet that our village was endangered by the canals construction, this is why I welcomed the Chinese," she says. "They were very polite and paid really well. To be honest, if they come back tomorrow and pay the same amount again, I would still cook for them, despite the canal.”

She always talks with caution, as dozens of policemen currently stay in the village to “protect” a group of doctors carrying out medical surveys in the region. The main Nicaraguan opposition paper, Confidencial, claims that those doctors work hand in hand with the government to find out how much land families own along the canal’s route.

We met one of the doctors at Dina’s place. She tells us that many households refuse the medical visit. Asked about whether the government will have access to their survey, she refused to reply.

Dina also tells us about the visit Chinese engineers paid them some time ago. Around 20 Chinese stayed in her house for two months. They were carrying out ecological and scientific surveys to see whether the canal could pass through the Punta Gorda river. Back then, the Chinese were received quite well.

Aidak, Dina’s oldest son, explains that he doesn’t want to be a campesino in the future: with the canal, tourism will increase and he wishes to become a tourist guide. Dina hopes for good compensation. She is tired of living in an isolated village, and would love to start her life again elsewhere.

Travelling along the canal’s road has definitely raised an important question: Will the canal be built at all? Chamorro, of the Confidencial newspaper, believes that the whole project is a scam. The canal will never be built, but land will be seized at low prices from farmers who will barely benefit from business opportunities reserved for the Nicaraguan economic elite.

This Chinese mega project represents the 74th attempt to built a canal in Nicaragua. It may also be the 74th failure to do so.

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Cuba's New Entrepreneurs 02
Santa Clara
By Conteur d'images
14 Jan 2015

In Cuba, the economic revolution started on September 24, 2010 when the government of Raul Castro authorised the opening of private businesses. As most city dwellers do not have the funds to rent a space but occupy their houses for free, they have begun transforming one room into a shop. They sell clothes, shoes, computers, and food products that can not be found in public stores. They also offer services such as jewellery repair.

À Cuba, la révolution économique est en marche depuis le 24 septembre 2010 quand le gouvernement de Raoul Castro autorisa l’ouverture de commerces privés. Comme la plupart des citadins n’avaient pas les moyens de louer un local mais occupaient leur maison gratuitement, ils transformèrent la pièce qui donne sur la rue en boutique. Ils y vendent aujourd’hui jeans griffés, équipement informatique dernier cri, services de réparation de bijoux et même certains produits alimentaires introuvables dans les magasins d’État.