Photojournalist Donna DeCesare has covered those affected by war and gang violence in the United States and Central America for decades. Her new book, Unsettled/Desasosiego, documents her journeys to El Salvador and Nicaragua in the 1980s and 2000s as well as her work on gang members in 1990s Los Angeles. She is now a professor of journalism at the University of Texas at Austin. She talks to host Maria Hinojosa about meeting and living with her subjects, which she reflects on in her new book, Unsettled/Desasosiego.
On her work in Central America
Cesare: “There was just something that was both different enough to intrigue me, with the difference, but familiar enough for me to really feel a sense of connection almost like a family connection to the people, and I really just fell in love with the place.”
On witnessing the Contra war
Cesare: “Nicaragua was at war, the contra war was on. But the atmosphere in the country was much more hopeful and idealistic. People loved the camera, and they would come to you, and I would say they would kiss the camera, they were excited about meeting someone.”
On the United States of America’s military involvement in Central America
“We supported a military regime that was repressing people. And we sent a lot of weapons to Central America. And there was extreme cruelty in the violence death squads that operated there. And we did nothing really much to stop that.”