Javier Álvarez (Santiago de Chile, 1988) is a documentary photographer with a special interest in social issues. His work is focused on human relationships in neglected communities. Alvarez's work has been exhibited, published, granted...
Santiago, Chile, 2020. Alicia González, holds her favorite picture of her son Danilo wearing his military uniform. She explains in an interview: “Danilo was not a delinquent. He was going to work and made a mistake. He should be alive but instead was murdered by the government's hitmen who pretend that wearing a uniform gives them some power. I want justice.” During the night of March 4, 2020, Danilo crashed his car into a police patrol car at a tollbooth station. An ensuing argument ended with Danilo being shot and killed by the police. Later videos from witnesses show how after the crash, cops put handcuffs on Danilo, and while he was on the ground begging for his life, one fired his gun at him.
Santiago, Chile, 2020. A group of protesters is hit in the body with tear gas projectiles. Since 2019, there have been 1,334 official complaints of wounds from gunshots, teargas, and rubber bullets by police forces.
Santiago, Chile, 2020. Marco Valdebenito, the brother of the dead protester Cristian Valdebenito, was seen as the first protester to climb the monument at Plaza Dignidad during another day of manifestations after the referendum. Marco and Cristian both grew up during the dictatorship as activists and protesters.
Cristian was hit in the back of his head by a tear gas grenade and died hours later in a public hospital. There has still been no investigation, despite the available technical information of which police squadron was in that place that day. This monument is cleaned and repainted during the curfew every night after a protest occurs.
Santiago, Chile. 2020. Francesca Escudero, Romario's partner and mother of his daughter, traveled to Santiago to protest outside of 'La Moneda,' the Presidential palace, in an attempt to demand justice on their case. The army officer who shot Romario is still on preventive detention, but the defense got to postpone his trial more than three times since the investigation started.
San Bernardo, Santiago, Chile, 2020. In Chile, a mostly Catholic country, beliefs about life after death are widely accepted. Paula Lorca’s family has felt her presence at their house: footsteps, shadows, sighs, even moving objects. They believe Paula doesn’t know she left.
La Granja, Santiago, Chile, 2020. Juan Cárdenas’s tattoo in honor of his son Danilo. “I was always against marking your own body,” Juan says. “But I wanted to remember Danilo every day, so I got a tattoo just like him, for him.”
Coquimbo, Chile, 2020. Victor Briceño, the stepbrother of a teenager killed during a riot, holds a pair of old soccer shoes that were used by his brother when he was a kid. He explains in an interview, “I bought these shoes for him when he was five, I always kept them at home. Kevin came to live with us when he was a baby and was a brother to me. I raised him. When the army murdered him, I put the shoes in the coffin, but I decided to keep them with us forever at the last minute.”
Kevin Gómez, a 24-year-old student, was shot and killed by a member of the military forces deployed during a state of emergency on the first week of riots and lootings in the region of Coquimbo, in the north of Chile. Kevin was shot in the back with his hands in the air when the military assumed he was looting a strip mall with other protesters. The investigation is still ongoing after a year.
October 18th, 2019 is the day that marks the beginning of one of the bloodiest eras in Chile since the return of democracy in 1990. A seemingly small act of raising the subway fare was instead a symbol of the violence of Chile's social inequality. It brought millions to the street in protest, leaving looted cities, destroyed infrastructure, and 42 people dead during the first six months of manifestations. Lives taken as victims of police brutality, stray bullets, accidents, or fires, forever changed the history of an entire country but also left families fractured by the lack of justice.
The Chilean government denies that the current administration has violated any human rights and that there are also no political prisoners.