Full Frame: Diamonds in the rough


Full Frame features photo essays and conversations with photographers in the field.

I met Bravo, a thin-looking Brazilian. He had arrived about two months before to Santa Elena de Uairen, a little frontier town in the south of Venezuela. He didn’t have a passport or any identifying documents. His job was to look after engines and hoses in a hidden mining camp in the middle of the jungle. I told him what I was doing and asked him to take me there. He did.

Four hours by a pickup truck through a dusty and rocky road, two hours more into the back of a freight truck and finally a six-hour trip by canoe. It was night when we arrived to the camp. Most of the people spoke Portuguese; they were Brazilians who had crossed the border illegally in search of diamonds and gold.

Early the next morning, I was taken to the place where the miners worked. A few meters behind the camp, there was a huge open pit, a surrealistic image. There are about 200,000 miners in the Venezuelan jungle, a number that will increase day by day, wreaking more ruin on the jungle.

About the photographer:

Gustavo Jononovich is a freelance photographer currently based in Buenos Aires. He began his studies in photography in 2002. After two years covering local news as a contract photographer in the Argentine media, he went freelance. Far away from breaking news, he is now working on a long-term personal documentary project, his first book, about the role that Latin America plays in the world as a center for the extraction of natural resources, documenting the impacts on its population and environment.