From Baghdad to Tijuana: A photographer’s perspective


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Photographer Eros Hoagland has been crossing borders as long as I’ve known him, documenting conflict hotspots around the globe in places like Iraq. He has been spending the last few weeks in Tijuana, where I recently caught up with him.

I asked him how Baghdad compares to Tijuana, and here’s what Eros said:

“Many areas of the U.S.- Mexico border are indeed engulfed in a war.  Homicide statics are flying off the charts in Tijuana and Ciudad Juarez as rival organized crime groups fight for strategic positioning. But it is largely a war of assassination, much different from Iraq or Afghanistan where protracted insurgencies and terrorist groups are fighting a large, well-equipped military machine.” 

A bit of background: I met Eros while I was freelancing in Nicaragua during that country’s 1996 presidential elections, and we  teamed up a few months later in El Salvador to work on a story about deported Los Angeles gang members. Since then, Eros has spent significant time in Iraq, Colombia, Eritrea, Guatemala, Peru and El Salvador, which is where his photographer father was gunned down  in the 1980s while covering the conflict for Newsweek.

In between the freelance gigs with organizations such as The New York Times, Eros has been working on a project that involves documenting border “lines.” Beyond the obvious one – the border fence – Eros sees lines, angles and intersections in less conspicuous places: The glass shards from a violent attack, for example, or in the creases of worry etched in a forehead. In doing so, he captures the fine lines that separate us while revealing our shared humanity. 

To see more of Eros’ work, go here.

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3 responses to “From Baghdad to Tijuana: A photographer’s perspective

  1. Oh, my gosh. I remember John Hoagland. He would be very proud of his son.

  2. After having written this post you cannot afford to miss the latest Iraqi joke making the rounds in Tj. It’s from Zeta, you can read it online. Enjoy.

  3. Hej Anna!

    In the page there are four jokes, the one that refers to Iraq is the second one. It bears the title En otra zona de guerra. I apologize for the confusion. I will include it here for reference purposes and you may decide whether to include this message or not:

    En otra zona de guerra

    Un corresponsal de Televisa está cubriendo la guerra en Irak, donde se entera que hay un excelente jugador de futbol, por lo cual le habla al presidente de un club para informarle del tremendo hallazgo.

    El presidente viaja a Bagdad. Después de rápidas negociaciones, Alm Yussuf es transferido a los Xoloitzcuintles de Tijuana y viene a México.

    Luego de una semana de concentración, se le incluye en el equipo para jugar su primer partido oficial de gira por Irapuato. En su debut mete tres golazos y se convierte en el nuevo ídolo de los Xolos.

    Alm Yussuf llama a su familia. Su esposa Nadim contesta el teléfono y le dice:

    Por aquí todo anda muy mal. Ayer mataron al abuelo, una banda armada quiso entrar a casa anoche, nuestro hijo Yassim fue golpeado en la calle, hace dos días quisieron violar a la nena y a mí me robaron todo lo que tenía encima; además no podemos dormir por las ráfagas, el cochino ruido de las sirenas y los gritos de dolor. ¡Y todo por tu culpa!

    Alm Yussuf le pregunta a su mujer:

    ¿Y por qué por mi culpa?.

    ¿Pues qué no te acuerdas que tú fuiste el que nos trajiste a vivir a Tijuana? ¡¿Qué chingados nos trajiste a vivir a Tijuana?!

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