The markets are open around-the-clock, pulling in young mothers, truck drivers, the homeless, anyone looking to get high.
They are known as “cracolandia,” or crackland, the open-air bazaars found in some Rio de Janeiro slums where crack cocaine users can buy rocks of the drug and smoke it in plain sight, day or night.
Brazil, according to some recent studies, has become the world’s top consumer of crack cocaine, a cheap and highly addictive derivative of the coca plant grown in neighboring countries. An estimated 1 million crack users have become a frightening blight for the country, deeply troubling to government officials whose programs have done little to halt the drug’s spread.
Individually, the epidemic is comprised of people from all walks of life, some of whom once held jobs, some with loving families, who harbored dreams of a better existence, all lost to their addictions.
A makeshift portrait studio draws crack users from their dark, nightmarish surroundings. Some users open up and tell their stories, while others reveal it only through their eyes.
Sancler Rodrigues, 32, said he has been smoking crack for 7 or 8 years. “I didn’t think my old black shirt would look good in your photo, so I borrowed this from a friend”.
Patricia Sebastiao, 22, has a 2-year-old daughter and 1-year-old son, is pregnant with her third child. She said she is 6 or 7 months pregnant, but was not exactly sure.
Andre Oliveira, 32, makes a living by collecting discarded, recyclable items on the streets.
Daniela Pinto, 39, who has been a crack user for 4 years, says she has been living in this crackland for about 4 months. She says she wants freedom, peace and love, but most importantly she wants to be freed from her addiction.
Jose Mauricio Oliveira, 41, poses for a portrait in an open-air crack cocaine market, known as a “cracolandia” or crackland.
Eduardo Santos de Souza, 46, a father of 8 children, with 4 different women, says he has cut down on his drug use and has a life outside crackland.
Jorge, 35, poses for a portrait in an open-air crack cocaine market, known as a “cracolandia” or crackland.
Ketellin Silva, 17, the mother of a 3-year-old girl, holds a stuffed toy dog she says belongs to her premature infant son who remains hospitalized.
Anderson, 23, Pereira wears a T-shirt with a message that reads in Portuguese; “Nothing should seem natural.”
Renato Dias, 39, who has been using crack for about 4 years, says he uses his notebook as a form of distraction. He writes about super heroes and dreams of becoming one.
Douglas Wallace, 26, poses for a portrait in a crackland or “cracolandia”.
Lucilene Gomes, 44, adjusts her hair in preparation for a portrait.
Andrea, better known as Loira, says she is married and has a home, but she keeps returning to crackland to feed her addiction.
Carla Chris, 35, who has been using crack for over 6 years, says getting into crack was easy. What is difficult is finding an opportunity on the outside. But she pushes herself everyday, saying: “Smile because life is beautiful. Jesus loves you and victory is certain. I am capable, prepared and self-sufficient, so I can do for myself.”
All photographs, videos and/or multimedia content on this site are property of Felipe Dana and/or stated publication and are protected under international copyright laws. The photographs may NOT be downloaded reproduced, copied, stored, manipulated, used or altered in any way, without prior written permission from Felipe Dana and/or stated publication. No images are within Public Domain. Use of any image as the basis for another photographic concept or illustration is a violation of copyright. Violation of copyright will be actively prosecuted.