Photos by Alejandro Cegarra
Text by Maria Dias
Photographer Alejandro Cegarra still remembers the 2013 death of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez as if it was a few hours ago.
“His presidency had the biggest economic boom of Venezuela's history, making it easy to fund his dream of a more equal, safe and less poor Venezuela,” Cegarra said. "But after four years since his death, Venezuela is less equal, more dangerous and poorer than ever.”
For Cegarra, who was born in Caracas and started his career at a local newspaper in 2012, the economic and political crisis that followed hit close to home, inspiring him to capture what was happening around him.
His photography details the struggles Venezuelans face today—rampant food and medicine shortage, skyrocketing crime rate, and frequent clashes with police that have left dozens of protesters killed.
As a Venezuelan documenting his own community, Cegarra is not immune to the emotions he captures. "When I talk about Venezuela, I talk about home,” said Cegarra. “It is sad when the places you knew all your life are in decay, and also when you see what other people are going through — your family included.”
“More than often I feel the need to help more,” added Cegarra, who won a 2017 Getty Images Editorial Grant for his work. “It makes me feel really grateful about what I have in my life.”
The grant will help Cegarra develop the next phase of his work. “It is important to me to keep telling the story of Venezuela, because is not only about a failed government, it is about family, friends.”
“I want people to know how severe is the suffering of hunger, lack of medicines and deficient — or inexistent — health care in a country with one of the biggest oil reserves in the world,” Cegarra said.
“I want to people look the collapse in my country from the perspective of people who are suffering in it every day and then ask themselves, ‘Why is this happening? What I can do to help?’”