The American dream represents the idea that all who come to the United States will enjoy freedom and equality.
For some Americans and for immigrants traveling here hoping to enjoy the ‘pursuit of happiness,’ the American Dream couldn’t seem more distant from reality.
Photographer Nicola Okin Frioli in his photo series ‘The Other Side of The American Dream’ captures the dark side of immigrants’ journeys who are trying to travel to the United States and have had to go through Mexico.
Survivor: Mariana, 29, from Honduras was assaulted yet able to avoid rape during her crossing as an undocumented person through Mexico, with the intent to arrive in the United States Dreaming: A drawing done by a 6 year old Honduran girl whose greatest desire is to return home with her grandmother ‘Lorena, Rafaela, I miss you a lot. Back soon ‘: Gonzalo writes a message for his family in Honduras who hopes that he’ll make it to the U.S. The Beast: Armando from El Salvador tried to get on the train ‘The Beast’ but he fell and the very train amputated his arm Attempting to survive: Water bottle with loop, owned by Benjamin Chavarrie, 40, which serves to carry water while traveling on the roof of the Beast Gang assault: Teofilo Santos Rivera, 42 of Panamá was the victim of an attempted mass assault by gang members during the crossing through Mexico and he also suffers from cancer and liver cirrhosis
Frioli photographs people from El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, and Nicaragua who are escaping their countries ridden with gang violence, economic turmoil, and no social mobility.
Many men, women, and children must pass through Mexico to come to the United States and will often be beaten, sexually abused, or lose limbs along the way.
Featureshoot.com reports that many immigrants are injured on a cargo train that crosses Mexico called ‘The Beast. ‘Some lose limbs and break arms on the journey.
Others jump off when they are confronted by immigration police and they become mangled beneath the train.
Frioli’s photographic subjects are of adults, children, and families set against a black backdrop so that the viewer can clearly see their injuries.
Some carry cardboard signs with messages detailing their dream differed.
Escaping: Wendy fled from Honduras with her three children (Jared of 18 months, Jazmin of 3 years, and Eduardo of 8) because of the attempted murder she suffered by her husband For protection: A Rosary given to Elsa Santos Mateo, 28 of Honduras by her employer in Guatemala to protect her during her journey Left behind: The hat of Lydia’s husband from Honduras who died two years ago from brain trauma during an impact against the train Crash survivor: Yenifer, 8, of Guatemala suffered, along with her 12-year-old sister and 11 other migrants in an automobile accident in Chiapas Resourceful: A wheelchair, adapted from a plastic garden seat which is donated by the International Organization Free Wheelchair Mission to to the shelter ‘Jesus el Buen Pastor’ in Tapachula
Still going: ‘I’m 21, from Guatemala; while in the U.S. my brother, Danilo, and I were deported, and my brother Medardo was killed. In the end, I lost everything and I keep trying’
One of those signs reads, ‘Lorena, Rafaela, I miss you a lot. Back soon.’
Another photograph shows the scars a woman acquired while escaping a rapist who pushed her into a ravine.
One snapshot shows a six-year-olds dream house as she imagines it.
The Huffington Post reports that Frioli began his project in 2008 after visiting a Catholic shelter that offers aid and medical care to those migrants injured along the way.
His project took years to finish and in 2013 he got financial support for the piece from Apoyo a las Artes/Fundación Bancomer BBVA.
‘It’s an effort to document the most dramatic side of Central American migration, all the accidents and mutilations,’ says Frioli
‘The broken dream of those who cross Mexico with the responsibility of their families and their livelihood, and when not accomplished [face] physical mutilations that could disable them from working the rest of their lives.’
Despite facing bitter hardship, Frioli’s subjects remain strong and their courage and stance is apparent in the photographs.
‘The other side of the dream’ does not only refer to the search for the ‘American dream,’ Frioli explained,
‘But also the failure of an intent to have a better life, the unfulfilled dream and a future that will never come.’
Reformed: The message says ‘I have worked with drug traffickers (in Honduras) to support my family, until I fled for the safety of my children’ Injured: ‘I’m 14 years old and I travel with my brother. I want to arrive to the border line. During the trip on top of the (beast) I had a wasp attack. My name is Yimi’