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It smells of sulfur and dark, dark. The place is like hell. My mental picture of hell. Heat, confusion, darkness, and above all, unbearably small space.

Sometimes I think if I'm already dead. When I fall asleep inside the mountain, cutting out and contorsionarme to reach every inch of silver, sleep with death. Sometimes games come to mind children, and a lake. A wonderful crystal clear lake in which my skin loses dust that stuffed.

Every morning, from my house I see this huge mountain. It's over 5 km height. It was carved by men that seems so much like an anthill. We are more than 15000 Ant-day people who enter and leave the Mountain tragahombres. Is so unstable, any day we bury.

Fotos de Jackson Faer

Ovid said that if he enters the bowels of the land and its riches are extracted, also flow the evils that are hidden. And I think that is true. I've seen death up close many times, but so far I've been lucky. We say that God governs in the highest, but here in the basement, does Satan. Perhaps because of my small size I have gone unnoticed until now for the devil. I, and as many as, venerate him every day. Actually venerate a cartoon we have of him at the entrance of the cave. We call “Uncle”, and offer liquor or cigarettes, but since I do not drink or smoke, I give coca leaves to be sure my.

Tunnels do not reach one meter high and I crawl between the rocks that bruise my fragile knees. Sometimes, the steps are so narrow that they could not turn around if I wanted to. I am forced to move on and when I get to the end, I squirm for hours like a snake to keep working. Endless hours between shadows pointed my flashlight. Companions Shadows. I miss you so much play. There are no friends, only the dry sound of a hammer and the bitter cry of the rock to break off. Dust and gases entering the lungs and blood mixed with altering my constitution and my brain. Not the first time that subject my hands between her legs by tremors, and other, head with them for my stun.

The tragahombres Mountain is located in Potosi, a place of Bolivia. We are known for silver we extract from the mountain, but especially for a phrase that appeals to the value of the mineral: “worth more than a Potosi” we say. About us, however, nobody remembers and are worthless.

Me llamo Jose Luis, and I have 11 years.


Someday I'd like to look like Charles Dikens, who worked in a factory to 12 and experience enabled him to write David Copperfield, My favorite book though scarcely able to read. I have only this book, but I like to pronounce the author's words when he said: “Of all my books, this is the one I like”. Me too.

What 215 million children worldwide work, it is a failure for society of enormous proportions. Countries often place the legal working age in 16 years which, kids like me 11, makes us secret and makes us invisible. In some places we are known as “quarters”, for considering us as a quarter of an adult, and charge a quarter of them.

And even with all, I am more afraid of life than death because my most powerful enemy is poverty.

Child Labor in Potosi mine

Cover image: Óleo the Jenny Saville
Item Music: The sound of silence. Simon & Garfunkel
Photographs by Jacson FAer