poverty Tag

life in north korea, pyongyang, north korean photos, images of n korea (7)

Images from isolation: North Korea in photos

Pyongyang, North Korea In the past year I’ve been to almost two dozen countries across five different continents. I’ve met some incredible characters, seen some of the world’s most spectacular landmarks, and eaten the strangest food. But whenever I start talking to people who have been following my journey, all they want to know about is my trip into North Korea. In some ways, I don’t blame them. It certainly was a surreal experience that challenged so many of the preconceptions I had about the country. It felt like going into a time machine – being transported back to a land trapped in an old-style communist bubble while the world had changed around it. The people there were startled to see me and the others I was travelling with. Nowhere in the world had I seen such a mix of shock, confusion and fear in the eyes of locals because of the presence...

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16 November
argentina, che guevara museum, cordoba, che guevara, alta gracia

Letter to Che

An open letter to Che Guevara Dear Che, I thought you might like to know that I visited your old house today. The one you grew up in near Cordoba in Argentina. They’ve turned it into a museum, you know. Old photos of your family, your childhood, the adolescence you spent growing and nurturing that seething anger, and the many later years you spent focusing that anger to try to change the world. To be honest, though, it left me a bit confused about the man you became and the legacy you have left. You’ve been worshipped and reviled by so many people. Perhaps that’s because there was an inherent contradiction in much that you did – killing to stop the killing, for instance. Taking control of governments to bring down government control. That’s why I was confused. It made me wonder what you would think of the man the little boy from...

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14 February
travelling paraguay, indigenous, native, communities, survival international

Land of the lost

Paraguay's indigenous tribes Dozens of members of the community – mostly children – stand around listening. In the middle of the circle, the Paraguayan village leader is speaking. Slowly, through a translator, he makes his message clear. “We need more land,” he says. Looking around, as I do at that moment, there seems to be plenty of land and much of it apparently unused. But things are more complicated than that. These are the indigenous people of Paraguay – the natives who had their land taken from them in the great settlement and missionary period of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. When they say they need more land, they mean they want it back. Here in the indigenous community of Makthlawaiya, about one hundred kilometres from the nearest major town, life moves slowly. In many senses it’s simply subsistence living for the population, which is measured in hundreds, not thousands. Villagers grow...

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31 January
favela tour in rio, brazil, poverty, vila canoas, tourism

Life in one of Rio’s favelas

Brazil: Rio de Janeiro favela tour In the alleys and walkways of the Vila Canoas favela in Rio de Janeiro, it’s easy to lose your sense of direction, height and time. There are no roads in this community and at times residents navigate their way through passageways that suddenly descend into the plumbing under a building. There are tunnels of staircases cut into stone filled with smoke and illuminated only by the light at either end. And throughout it all is a warren of paths split off in every direction as dictated by the needs of the locals. But for the people who live in this slum on the side of one of Rio de Janeiro’s mountains, this is home and they know it as well as anyone knows their neighbourhood. Vila Canoas is home to just a few thousand people, forced into a favela by poverty and with no ladder to climb...

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05 January
rio de janeiro, favela, pacified, brazil, favela tour

The military occupation of Rio’s slums

Rio favelas in Brazil With the morning still dark and most residents still sleeping, the troops moved in. Special forces police, navy commandos, armoured military vehicles and helicopters all swooped in a carefully-planned operation. They had been surrounding Rio de Janeiro’s largest favela for four days and this was the climax of their operation. They had warned the 70,000 people living in Rocinha that this moment would come and the authorities were heavily-armed, ready for any resistance. As they quickly spread through the slum, the troops met very little opposition. Some locals watched from their windows as their neighbourhood was occupied by the government and some women were reportedly seen crying. But at six o’clock in the morning the chief of military police declared that Rocinha was now under his control. Not a single shot had been fired. This was less than two months ago (November 2011) and now here I was, walking...

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04 January
New Orleans, Louisiana, crime, poverty, katrina, is New Orleans safe

The Big Easy is harder than you think

Crime in New Orleans Just a block or two from where I was out drinking one night, two people were shot dead and several more injured in altercations that escalated quickly. The next day the local newspaper had a big article about the murders, filled with the usual fist-shaking condemnations of police and politicians. Next to that, though, was a similar-sized article about what effect the shootings would have on tourism. This, ladies and gentlemen, is the essence of New Orleans. It’s a city where decadence meets dangerous and where it’s not just the drink prices that are criminal. New Orleans is one of the most popular destinations for visitors in the US but outside the purring tourist-fuelled economy there’s suburb after suburb of poverty, crime and hopelessness. Hurricane Katrina didn’t help, and it gets most of the attention these days, but it’s not the problem. It merely exacerbated it. There were many...

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08 November