Photo: El Velador
POV’s website, from Sept. 28 – Dec. 20.
The cemetery of El Velador (The Night Watchman) is located in Culiacán, capital of Sinaloa and Mexico’s drug heartland. Since the war on drugs began, the number of graves in the cemetery has exploded and the opulence of the mausoleums has exceeded the imaginable.
Ranging in design from minimalist modernism to fanciful imitations of mosques pictured in magazines, these tombs look more like houses for the living than resting places for the dead. Who can afford such luxuries and dies so young?
As youthful widows methodically sweep the marble floors of elaborate crypts, luxury cars glide silently between tombs and construction workers build new memorials more lavish than their homes. One by one the funeral processions come and go; family and friends weep as they lay their loved ones to rest. A procession leaves, and a new one arrives a day or two later. Through Martin’s eyes, El Velador (The Night Watchman) sees night pass in a place where time stands still.
Shortly after taking office in December 2006, President Felipe Calderón declared war on Mexico’s drug cartels and assigned the military the task of fighting the drug trade in Mexico. The drug war has killed more than 55,000 people during Calderón’s presidency, according to Reuters. Enrique Peña Nieto, candidate of the formerly ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), was elected president of Mexico on July 2, 2012.
In the two days following his victory, a car bomb killed two police officers, gunmen opened fired on a wake near the U.S. border and rival gunmen left 10 dead near the capital. Mexico has become the battlefield for an international, illegal drug trade, with the majority of its customers in the United States.