“The watchers of Mexico become the watched”

I just came across a documentary photography project by Alberto Rodríguez called 100 mts.  Here is the tumblr site with some of the photos.  I was going to explain the project to you in my own words, but Rodríguez does it so much more eloquently.  Below are some quotes from his summary:

“This project was born out of fear. Mexico has become a stronghold of aggressive surveillance, a place where holding a pen or a camera can get you killed in an instance. Where the big brother state is slowly and frighteningly becoming an actuality. Human rights activists, journalists and anybody considered part of a subculture have been detained, beaten and killed. The Justice system is too inefficient and weak to combat the security forces who have the ultimate ‘get out of jail free card’ by claiming national security as a defense.

It is impossible to take pictures of these honorable guardians of our street corners due to fear of the consequences. This condition of restricting the documentation of anything resembling security in Mexico is far removed from any issues of protecting the public, in fact its simply a shield against the blatant corruption that exist within and which has been allowed to become the norm.

Unable to take photos of this ulcer in Mexico’s throat I looked for alternative ways to document the pervasive presence of the security forces. I started using the Google street view technology as a tool for observing and documenting raw images of the uniformed watchers. I wanted the images to show the forces disproportionate presence on the streets and reveal this terrible phenomenon, in a country where the government has sole control over the mass media, which instead of protecting people, is slowly and silently destroying the freedom to speak freely and disintegrating any sort of quality of life.

Ironically Google Maps has itself been accused of invading people privacy. Therefore in this project the watchers of Mexico become the watched by one of the biggest watchers of them all.” 

I found this especially interesting after having just finished Todd Miller‘s tremendous book Border Patrol Nation: Dispatches from the Front Lines of Homeland Security.  I will blog about it soon, but I mention it now because it too documents an increasing militarized presence and surveillance in the vague goal of “national security.”