“From the ashes we rise”

All the Chilean coastal area, and particularly the portion located in the central part of the country, is considered a high-risk fire.
The shape of the territory formed by green mountains peaking over the sea, the strong wind and the waves of heat are some of the factors that facilitate this phenomenon.
In this part of Chile are located the towns of Valparaiso and Vina del Mar that are among the most touristic and richer cities in the country.
Valparaiso, in fact, was declared a World Heritage Site by Unesco in 2003 and is known for colourful neighbourhoods hugging hills so steep that people use stairs rather than streets.
It is located 75 miles north-west of the capital, Santiago, it has a vibrant port and is home to Chile's national legislature. Valparaiso’s twin city, Vina del Mar, is one of the richest city of the country.  
Despite this privileged condition comparing to the rest of the country’s standard, at the top of the mountains (cerros) that distinguish the bizarre morphology of the two cities, he poorest live in Poblaciones (favelas) or Campamientos d'emergencias, In most cases they do not have the primary livelihood or asphalt roads. During stormy winters and long rainy periods the roads turn into mud torrents and the roofs struggle to withstand the weight of the falling water.
These areas are the most at risk. During the fires whole poblaciones were destroyed and dozens of victims died.
In most cases, as what happened for the Campamiento Felipe Camiroaga of Vina del Mar, the land (partly owned by the municipality partly private property of the rich Vernales family who bought it for sale during the time of Pinochet) was taken and occupied by an action of homeless citizens. They have chosen a place to live with their families, built their own homes and organized for the internal transport, to obtain gas, light and drinking water (in some cases unlawfully linking to the public grid). This Campamiento was born in 2010 and in one year the first cerro was completely full. In 2013 people started to organize an internal committee. Today every week homeless families from Santiago, Valparaiso, Vina del Mar but also from Colombia and Perù are coming to take a piece of land to build their own home.

An army of people stands up every day and meets to overcome everybody's flaws. Chile is a country that is fundamentally rich and different from the countries bordering on it. Its economy has always privileged relations with the United States, Australia, Japan, Spain and Europe and the resulting society is strongly classy.
Often, those who are living in a poblacion are discriminated and labeled as delinquent, deprived of any right, without the possibility of obtaining a stable job in the higher quarters. In addition, Chile’s greatest problem is connected to the Home’s issue: having a property is expensive and not all families can afford to have one.
The only solution for many is to occupy a land and become self-proclaimed.
From April 2014 to January 2017 there have been a number of fires that have destroyed whole areas of Valparaiso and Vina del mar. The Greatest Fire of Valparaíso started on 12 April 2014 in the hills of the city. The fire destroyed at least 2,900 homes in some of its poorest areas, leaving 11,000 people homeless. An additional 6,000 people were evacuated from the city, which was placed on red alert and declared a disaster zone. Entire neighborhoods were razed to the ground and many of the victims were found in the burned-down homes they reportedly refused to leave. Fifteen people were confirmed killed and ten suffered serious injuries.
The blaze started at an illegal rubbish tip and was fanned by high winds and summer temperatures, moving at a rate that forced authorities to declare a state of emergency in the area. It Has been propagated in a short time in the nearby Vina del Mar. The main road from Valparaiso to Santiago was interrupted due to the proximity of the flames.

​The situation was repeated again on Nov,17,2019 where entire part of these neighborhood were burned due to fires fed by strong winds.

The work has been shortlisted in the Reportage category at the KOLGA AWARDS  2018

​Click on images for full screen.

Fuego, Tierra y Viento

Fires and fight for survive in Chile

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