Shining a spotlight on those who need it most

By Elisabeth Román
Although the war on drugs has been raging on for decades if we look at many of our barrios it seems we are waging a losing battle. How often do we walk by homeless drug addicts in our neighborhoods without giving them a second thought? Yet they too are children of God, who have no voice in our society, relegated to a lesser status perhaps because so many of us consider addicts bring these dire circumstances onto themselves.

For photojournalist and street photographer, Rafael Enrique “Farrique” Pesquera, giving a face, identity and voice to those suffering from the illness of drug abuse is a mission of compassion.  Pesquera, who has photographed almost every political leader in Puerto Rico, many of them controversial, has now focused his camera lens on the suffering and the appalling conditions endured by those who battle with drug addictions. 

The photographer spent months visiting drug houses and areas with a local community organization that assists addicts with their rehabilitation. “The organization helped me reach out to the victims of drug abuse and gain their trust,” Pesquera said, adding that he has suffered the unfortunate loss of friends who have been the victims of overdoses. “The message behind my images is to show the conditions in which these people live and the pain they endure so that it can be a deterrent for future generations, as well as raise awareness of their deplorable conditions to the people in power.”

Pesquera’s edgy images were turned into an exhibit called La Cura y Nosotros sponsored by the University of Puerto Rico. Through his powerful images in La Cura, he shows a measure of compassion that is truly a Christian virtue and is helping bring attention to those in need. For Farrique Pesquera the goal is to create images with a purpose that can ideally draw attention and greater awareness to the problems facing our society.”

Pesquera’s photographs have won awards and
been exhibited in several U.S. cities and throughout Latin America. Through his work, the father of three seeks to bring a voice, attention and dignity to those who lack it, yet need it the most. The university professor also seeks to teach young people about the problems that come from drug abuse. ”Drugs don’t discriminate and touches all race and social classes. Perhaps we think that it is not something anyone in our family would ever fall prey to, yet the likelihood that teens will be exposed to drugs and alcohol is high,” he added.

Pesquera, who fell in love with photography the moment he discovered the magic of turning a negative into an image on paper, says he is creating photos that can lead to social change. A graduate of the School of Visual Arts in New York, his work has
been published in major newspapers and magazines in the U.S. and Puerto Rico. In 2006, he began teaching photography and sharing his craft with college students. He also gives photography workshops to young people in poor barrios throughout the island.

Pesquera is currently working on a project called El hombre y su ambiente (The Man and His Environment), with the goal of publishing a book. His message to young people and his students is, “Don’t ever think that you know it all; never stop learning.” 






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