Since 2003 Toni Arnau's lens focuses towards those who have suffered the tragedy to be expelled from the place where they were born.
With thousands of miles of distance between one another (covering), the 38 years old spanish photographer, has documented in 2005 the tragedy of thousands of buthanese deported to Nepal (in the same country he also worked on the disappearances linked to the conflict between the army and the maoist guerrilla). He also reported about the rebellions of undocumented Asian and African immigrants who tired of living in fear and who were demanding that the spanish government finds ways to legalize their status.
During the year 2009 he has also continued taking photos of those central americans, who were travelling unprotected and without papers across Mexico in their attempt to reach the United States.
Toni Arnau is a founding member of the Spanish photo collective RUIDO Photo. His photographs were shown in Spain, France, Italy and Central America. In addition, he was awarded by the Youth Department of the Government of Catalonia, by the Centroamerican University in Salvador, and by European Union.
Toni Arnau graduated from Institut d'Estudis fotografics de Catalunya. He is coordinator of the spanish documentary photography magazine 7.7 which is publishing quarterly reportages from all over the world.
Since 2010 he is working in a reportage about the pollution of the Parana river, in Argentina and Paraguay, and its tragic impact on the people living and working in this area.
The Paranà river, crossing Brasil, Paraguay and Argentina is the most important river of South America, second to The Amazon. The Paranà was once a very rich river, though now its’ whole ecosystem (fish, plants and
even the inhabitants of the surrounding riverside) is threatened with extinction.
For many decades, in the name of progress, The Paranà river has been the source of great business; fish exporting, dam construction as well as the development of luxury housing.
Meanwhile, the inhabitants who have for so many years taken care of the river are forced to leave their land and jobs, expelled and slowly driven to the outskirts of the largest cities. A hidden humanitarian tragedy is occu-
rring, dispersed along the 2500 miles covered by The Paranà river.
Day by day, the Paranà is losing its fish, its land and its people. Everything is in danger of extinction, in the middle of a series of crises announcing a silent death.
Every year, about 500,000 undocumented Central Americans cross Mexico to reach the United States, according to the National Institute of Migration of Mexico. That figure, which speaks about the crowd that make up such pilgrimage, is the least scandalous one amid this humanitarian crisis.
According to a recent report by Amnesty International on these travellers, 60% of undocumented women experience some form of sexual assault. The Mexican National Human Rights Commission in its 2009 Kidnapping Special Report revealed that nearly 10,000 undocumented workers had been kidnapped, mainly by the Zetas, during the six-month period data were collected for the mentioned report.
From November 2008 to November 2009, three photographers of RUIDO Photo travelled this pathways together with undocumented Central Americans. From the Suchiate river down south up to the northern Bravo. From the brothels of human trafficking in the area of Tapachula to the desert’s common lands in Sonora.
—Huyo porque tengo miedo de que me maten –dice Auner cabizbajo.
—No, nunca –sigue con los ojos clavados en la tierra.
—¿Renunciás a tu país?
—¿No volverías nunca?
—No… Bueno… Solo si tocan a mi mujer o mi hija.
—Y entonces, ¿a qué volverías?
Huye de una muerte sin rostro. Allá atrás, en su mundo, sólo queda un agujero repleto de miedo. Aquí en México, ahora, sólo queda huir. Esconderse y huir. Ya no es tiempo de reflexiones. De nada vale detenerse a pensar cómo es que él y sus hermanos tienen que ver con aquellos cadáveres. De nada serviría.
Salió de El Salvador hace dos meses y desde entonces camina con sigilo y guía a sus hermanos con paciencia. A los 20 años, dueño de su miedo, Auner, no quiere dar un paso en falso. No quiere caer en manos de la migración, no quiere ser deportado, no quiere que le desanden su camino, porque eso significaría tener que volver empezar. Como él dice: “Para atrás, sólo para tomar impulso”.