The absentees

Ligedya Rodriguez daughter emigrated to Australia five years ago. Mother and daughter exchange information every day via Whatsapp, but still, Rodriguez says, “I feel orphaned.”


Family is the most important bond in Venezuela, a failed state. Family provides meaning in an environment where much has no meaning anymore.


According to the UN, more than 5,4 million Venezuelans have migrated in recent years, one of the largest migration movements of the present.


Those who left were the young, the strong, the people with a future. Left behind were the old, the generation who sees no longer a future elsewhere.


This is a photo essay from a residential building in Caracas, Residencias Doral. In Residencias Doral lives the Venezuelan middle class. Emigrants here could afford to fly to their destination countries. They did not have to cross South America on foot, like the poorest of Venezuelan migrants. Most of the migrants that lived in the building are well educated and work in their original professions in their destination countries.


How do I photograph a story about migrants who are already absent, I asked myself when I was doing my research in Caracas.


I decided then to portrait their parents who have stayed and whose children had gone abroad, to Spain, Argentina, Germany. I shot the portraits either in the children’s room or with objects that reminded the parents of their offspring.


“Please think of your child when I press the shutter,” I told the people I would portray. Their faces in general expressed sadness.


Another detail also showed me how big a hole the absentees have left in their parents’ lives. No matter how many years they have been gone, most of the youth’s rooms were still in the same condition as the moment the children left the apartment and Venezuela forever.