- PhMuseum 2023 Photography Grant
Sangre Blanca - The Lost War on Cocaine
Dates2022 - Ongoing
We are in the golden age of cocaine. Consumption and production have never been higher. Despite more than 40-years of ‘War on Drugs’ – the coca leaf still flourishes on the hills of Colombia.
For many Europeans and Americans, cocaine is a party drug. For many Colombians, cocaine is blood and violence, corruption and death.
This reportage delves into the murky depths of the cocaine trade and exposes some of the human consequences in Colombia of the world’s favorite party drug.
Illegal drugs now constitute the world's largest illegal economy, and in its wake follow corruption, underdevelopment, and extremely high murder rates in South and Central America in particular. Entire societies and nations are destabilized. Regardless of years of war and endless efforts to stop cocaine Colombia remains in the heart of the business. No place produces more. No place suffers more. But never have the production been higher.
The international response has so far been a mixture of prohibition, hard punishment and bloody military campaigns that are raging across Colombia’s countryside. This has been the strategy since the 1970s - but is it working? And from whose perspective? And what is the human consequences behind the world’s insatiable appetite for cocaine?
What I plan to do with the Grant.
I will happily share my detailed travel and work plans with you, but very shortly explained, the grant will be used to visit, and re-visit different people and communities involved in the drug trade – such as the coca-farmers in Cauca who suffers from violence from the armed groups, the neglected slum areas in Buenaventura where the rivalling street gangs feeds on the profitable smuggling routes. And I will go to Catatumbo, the epicentre for drug production and trafficking, where I will join the military on their endless raids on laboratories and armed cartels.
The time to make this story is now.
I’m married to a Colombian and worked in the country since 2006. And after years of groundwork the window is finally opening to create this unique story. I have the contacts and access that I need - and politically the new Petro-government in Colombia, as well as leaders across Latin America, are now openly admitting the failures of the past and the new solution that the future must bring. This story will be an important piece to understand what is really happening on the ground.
I strongly believe the World need to see it now. To feel it. The consequences of failed drug policies. The bloody war on drugs. The real price for our own youths rising appetite for cocaine.
And I hope we can do it Together.