"Natal" in Portuguese means Christmas but it is also the name of the most violent city in Brazil in the past two years (2017-2018). The increase in the number of homicides is a consequence of the sixth historic largest rebellion in Brazilian prisons, occurred in January 2017 in the penitentiary of Alcaçuz. In this key event to understand violence in the region, members of two criminal factions (PCC and SDC) confronted in a campal war transmitted on live by televisions and which counted 26 dead. The dispute between the factions for the control of the drug traffic left the prison and took over the city of Natal generating an index of 100 dead for every 100 thousand inhabitants, numbers that put it like the fourth most violent city of the world.

broadcast live for more than eight hours on the main Brazilian television channels of the rebellion of Alcaçuz prison. It's the key event which leveraged the growth of deaths in the city of Natal.


On my first visit to Natal in 2017 I went to visit my family that I had not seen for more than a decade and I came across a silent violence that had taken over the city. I then began a cover on local violence for an American newspaper that it readily accepted. Since then, I went to Natal three times in a year to produce reports on the subject. Editing my images I noticed that they talk about the silent violence that takes place in Brazil, a country that has 17 of the 50 most violent cities in the world, and started my personal research beyond the demands of the international press. Investigating the roots of local violence puts me in an ethical responsibility for the subject, and establishes a relationship that goes beyond the assignments and answers my concerns about the ethical incoherencies of photojournalism. It's a long-term project.

On my first visit to Natal, three months after the rebellion, I had access to photographing the weapons handcrafted by the prisoners and used in the clashes that left 26 people dead. The guns were piled in a cellar in the back of a police station in the town of Nisia Floresta, where the prison of 
Alcaçuz is located.

Using Format