Inside a neighborhood scarred by drugs and despair: Life on the tough streets of Pablo Escobar’s hometown where drug addicts and prostitutes struggle to survive
It is one of Colombia’s most dangerous neighborhoods, a crowded and dilapidated crush of drug dealers, prostitutes and the homeless fight for survival.
But despite the poverty and despair of Barrio Triste – Sad Neighborhood – photographer Juan Arredondo found glimmers of hope among the people who call it home.
For three years, the 35-year-old photographer has documented life in Medellín, once the most dangerous city in the world, where drug lords and paramilitary groups fight for power.
Survival: A homeless man cooks over an open fire made from bits of wood found on the street
Addicts: Hugo, 33, is one of many drug users who gather in deserted warehouses to smoke crack
Trade: The neighborhood has become a place to trade drugs
Refuge: A sex worker holds her daughter as she makes their meal in a rented hotel room
He became fascinated with Barrio Triste after meeting a mother-of-four who sought refuge in the neighborhood after a paramilitary group killed her husband.
As Medellín, the hometown of infamous drug lord Pablo Escobar, cleaned up its act, Barrio Triste remained a battleground for other dealers.
It was once named the Sacred Heart of Jesus, but now mechanics and sex workers trade on its grease-stained streets, and turn to paramilitary group Los Convivir for protection.
But despite the poverty and crime, Arredondo remains optimistic for its future.
‘Barrio Triste serves a window to the violent past that once plagued the city of Medellín. It reminds me of a past I left behind and the hardship the citizens of this city and this country have endured over many years,’ he said.
Tragedy: A family say goodbye to a child placed in a tiny coffin
Oppressive: It make look uninviting but hotel Rest Stop of the Traveler offers cheap shelter to those displaced by violence
Despair: Orejas, 21, has been living on the streets of Barrio Triste since running away when he was 12
Displaced: With nowhere else to go, this drunk is forced to sleep on the sidewalk
Faith: A cathedral dominates the dilapidated neighborhood
Icon: A painting of Sacred Heart of Jesus, the old name of the town, hangs in a workshop
Worn: Pieces of metal and wire from the mechanics’ shops are encrusted in the sidewalk
Savior: A large painting of Jesus is carried through the bustling streets
Down time: Workers play parqu during an afternoon break
Boxed in: A framed photo of a wedding day hangs on the flimsy walls of this man’s hut
Home: Carmen Salgado, 67, has been living is this room for 17 years. She pays $6.50 a day in rent
Trapped: A pregnant woman smokes marijuana from the back yard of a repair shop
Hardship: A man who has lost both hands and one leg showers in the ruins of a house
Crowded: Laundry hangs over the bed in a tiny room shared by this family
Cramped: Eight-year-old Jenny shares this rented room with her four brothers, mother and step-father
Comfort: A mother hugs one of her children in their tiny home
Motor city: By day mechanics and car workshops are the main trade
Homeless: Men bathe in the streets among street vendors and traffic
Break: A mechanic rests inside a bus to escape the heat of the afternoon
Pit stop: A worker rests in a local bar in Barrio Triste
Celebration: A pig is slaughtered for a traditional New Year’s Eve party
Deprived: Homeless teenagers gather in a sewage tunnel that runs under the neighborhood
Youthful: Despite the despair, children still play happily on a rooftop
Grime: Workers repair vending carts on the street
Broken: Barrio Triste lives up to its name as Sad Neighborhood but Juan Arredondo says there is hope