An Evening with Subcomandante Marcos

Subcomandante Marcos, the Zapatista rebel leader, at a press conference, Mexico City, October 1st 2007

It was rather an unlikely setting for a press conference with one of the world’s most famous rebel leaders, Subcomandante Marcos of the Zapatista National Liberation Army(EZLN). Mexico City’s Casa Lamm, a cultural centre and converted mansion in the Roma neighbourhood is the kind of place you expect to see expats and well-off Mexican families breakfasting, not Mexico’s guerilla army making its latest political statement.

Arriving on time to a room packed with journalists, activists, fans and onlookers of all ages, Sub Marcos or Delegado Cero (Delegate Zero) as he now prefers to be known – took his seat at the end of a long table, replete with microphones and tall glasses of water, preceded by other members of the EZLN, including Comandante Miriam and Comandante Zebedeo. Continue reading

World Press Photo exhibition opens in Mexico City

The World Press Photo Exhibition opened in Mexico City, September 28th 2007

The World Press Photo awards exhibition opened in Mexico City’s beautiful Franz Meyer museum last night in collaboration with Mexico’s National Commission of Human Rights.

The event was attended by hundreds, and features 200 photographs representing the best in press photography of last year. Images in the show range from photographs of conflict zones to wildlife.

A 76 year old Clint Eastwood gazes out of one of the black and white images in the exhibition. The spot news winner shows a man in Lagos, Nigeria walking through a gas factory blow apart by an explosion and was taken by Akintunde Akinleye, the first Nigerian photographer to win a World Press Photo award. Continue reading

Dr Simi sparks YouTube Craze

Dr. Simi is the mascot for chain of discount pharmacist shops here in Mexico, but he’s a lot more than that. Based roughly on the founder of Farmacias Similares founder Victor Gonzales, the marketing strategy has developed a cult following. Continue reading

Too Much Violence in Contemporary Photography, says Magnum member

There is too much of an emphasis on documenting violence in contemporary press photography, and photojournalists should document other, non-violent stories in the world, according to Rene Burri.

Reni Burri opening his photo exhibiton, Mexico CitySpeaking at the opening of his photo exhibition ‘Un Mundo’ (a world) in Mexico City’s Antiguo Colegio de San Ildefonso, Swiss-born Burri told NewCorrespondent that he deplores the focus on violence in much of today’s press.

“What I deplore is this kind of focusing on violence and almost
pornographic views on what’s going on. There’s a big wide world out
there which is fantastic to record. There’s still a lot of work to do.”

Photo of a photo by Rene Burri, MagnumBurri, who has photographed legends such as Che Guevara, Winston Churchill, Maria Callas, Pablo Picasso and Fidel Castro, advised budding photographers to stick their noses into places which weren’t drenched with blood.

“It’s said that I never took a picture of dead soldiers or people. I found in difficult moments that I couldn’t take pictures and was more interested socially and economically before and after. I made some pictures….some of them survived and they also sent a message about the horror and terrible things but I don’t think that every time we have to go and put our hands into blood and at the moment it’s almost unbearable.

“I think at the moment it’s almost unbearable – I think terrible things always happen in the world but I would encourage people to go and poke their nose into things whether in Iraq or in a village somewhere and do some humanistic stories that will in some of your children or future generations–give us some idea of what the world looked like, not only the miserable bombed up fascist things we’ve gone through.”

Burri’s work – from Argentina to Zurich – is an awesome journey through some of the most important events in the world’s the last six decades. He started working for Magnum, one of the world’s most respected photojournalism agencies, very near the start of his career in the 1950s after impressing the agency’s founders with his pictures of deaf and mute children in a Zurich school. Since then he has filed for Life, The New York Times and The Sunday Times, to name just very few.

The exhibition at Antiguo Colegio de San Ildefonso features work of his from all over the world, and includes shots of Picasso, Guevara and Maria Callas.

Burri laughed at some of his missed opportunities over the years during the talk at the museum that accompanied the opening of the exhibition.

Photo of a photo by Rene Burri, Magnum“There was one time when I was alone in New York on the Upper East Side,” he says.

“I saw on the sidewalk there was a lady coming towards me. She wore dark glasses and I had my Leica in my hand. It was Greta Garbo, the film star. I was there with my camera and she deployed such energy and passed me with such a big smile – but I didn’t take the picture, missing my chance to become paparazzi.”

Mexico City’s Military March, Independence Weekend

Mexico City's Military March, Independence Day 2007

Mexico City’s Independence Celebrations Pass Peacefully

Mexico celebrated the anniversary of its independence this weekend. It was the first time that Felipe Calderon, the country’s current president, oversaw the celebrations since he took office in December last year following controversial elections.

Observers said that the military presence surrounding the annual event was much higher than past years, and the volume of the music being played by the enormous speakers around the square was painful to the ears.

Despite this, the occasion passed peacefully.

Supporters of Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador were out in force in the Zocalo during the day, and staged a rally opposite the Palacio Nacional in the evening. At 10pm, Obrador’s supporters voted to leave the Zocalo and not attend Calderon’s traditional ‘El Grito’ at 11pm in protest at what they insist were fraudulent elections last year.

Mexico City's Zocalo, September 15th 2007

But by 11pm the Zocalo was full again. Thousands turned up to hear Calderon pay tribute to the country’s heroes and cry ‘Viva Mexico!’ three times. ‘El Grito’ was followed by an impressive firework display that enthralled the crowd for 20 minutes, after which they peacefully dispersed.

The following Sunday, Mexico’s military marched through the city’s main avenues in all its splendor, watched on and applauded by the city’s inhabitants.

Mexico City's Military March, Independence Day 2007

Watch extracts of the military march here:

NewCorrespondent on the BBC

Lucha Libre School. Photo Courtesy of Luz Montero, at

Mexican Youngsters Wrestle with Fame

Mexico is ‘out of control’ for journalists

Mexican journalist Lydia Cacho Ribeiro, herself a victim of human rights abuses, listens to the tale of the friend of a prison inmate.

NewCorrespondent in Press Gazette: Mexico is ‘out of control’

Mexico City’s military out in force for this weekend’s Independence Celebrations

Zocolo, Mexico City, September 13th 2007

Stalls and celebrations in Mexico City’s Zocalo. The country is preparing to celebrate its Independence Day. This will be the first Independence Day to be presided over by the country’s current president Felipe Calderon, who took office in December last year following controversial elections.

Military is out in force

Metal barriers and fences sprung up in the Zocalo almost overnight, according to bystanders. The military presence in the square is apparently much heavier than past years.

Military is out in force

The date on which independence from Spain was declared by Miguel Hidalgo in Mexico overlooks the armed troops standing between the square and the Palacio Nacional

The resistance of the people of Mexico City continues

This banner was erected by supporters of Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, Calderon’s left-wing rival in the controversial elections of last year. Calderon won the election by less than one percentage point, and opposition supporters still maintain that fraud plagued the election and that Obredor is Mexico’s legitimate president. According to the BBC, Mr Obrador, a populist former mayor of Mexico City, challenged the poll outcome in the courts and led a campaign of street protests. He refused to recognise Mr Calderon’s win.

Palacio National, Mexico City, September 13th 2007

Police guard the entrance to the Zocalo’s Palacio Nacional. Bystanders said that the heightened security of this year’s Independence Day celebration signals the Government’s fear that opposition supporters of Obredor could cause disruption over the weekend’s celebrations.

Military out in force, Mexico City, September 13th 2007 walked the perimeter of Mexico City’s Zocalo, which is lined with military officers and police already standing guard, more than 48 hours before the celebrations are officially due to begin.

Military out in force, Mexico City, September 13th 2007

Metal barricades separate the people from the buildings that house the official powers in the country.

Military out in force, Mexico City, September 13th 2007

The guardsmen were clearly unhappy about NewCorrespondent’s photographer.

Military out in force, Mexico City, September 13th 2007

A politician emerges from behind the metal barricades guarding the buildings that house the official powers in the country.

30 years of Photojournalism in Mexico City

UNAM central library

September is the month of photography here in Mexico City, and a number of photographic exhibitions are running. One of the most striking to foreign eyes is that of Proceso, a political magazine based here in Mexico that has been running for the last 30 years.

Lining the outside fence of the majestic Bosque de Chapultepec – DF’s largest park – are a selection of photos from Proceso’s photojournalists that serve as a history lesson of the country’s dramatic last three decades.

I have done my best to translate the introductory passage to the exhibition, and those not lucky enough to walk the line of photos can take a virtual tour here at the Proceso site. Enjoy.
Intro passage:

Photography is an art that observes others. Perceives a gesture, just like another person, the blare of an event, and freezes it to create – in the moment – a lasting click in the memory.

When the work of a photographer is journalistic, he discovers that these gestures and the manner of what is happening convert into an exact, public register.

The photojournalist of today, the photojournalists of Proceso who have illuminated the last thirty years and scratched daily life, allow the readers / viewers of our covers and our reports to thoroughly take it on, like testimony, the dramatic events of this crushed and aching country.

Their photos are exactly that: testimony and memory, accusations and graphic documentations that support the root that heads towards hope.

Here it is, in this difficult exhibition, moment by moment, a show of what it is that has been Mexico for the last three decades.

The point of photos: reality as it is, without adjectives.

La fotografía es el arte de mirar para los otros. De percibir un gesto,
el ademán de una persona, el fragor de un acontecimiento, y congelarlo
para hacer de ese instante el perdurable clic de la memoria.

Cuando la faena del fotógrafo es tarea periodística, el hallazgo de
esos gestos y ademanes de lo que va ocurriendo se convierte en registro
cabal de la existencia pública.

El fotorreportero de hoy, los fotorreporteros de Proceso que han
iluminado durante treinta años y pico la vida del semanario, permiten
al lector-mirador de nuestras portadas y nuestros reportajes asumir a
cabalidad, como testimonio, el dramático acontecer de este país
machacado y dolorido.

Sus fotos son precisamente eso: testimonio y memoria; acusación frontal
y documento gráfico para apoyar de raíz el rumbo a la esperanza.

Aquí está, en esta apretada exposición, instante por instante, una
muestra de lo que es y ha sido el México de las últimas décadas.

A punta de fotos: la realidad tal cual, sin adjetivos.