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Facing reality

José María Vera, Director General, Intermón Oxfam

We all keep in mind images that remind us of certain moments or events. Photography has been an important tool for communications since its early times, and it still is.  Books like ‘The Third Rider’ are good examples: photojournalist  Alfons Rodríguez conveys through its excellent collection of captioned potos, feelings of desperation and rage, injustice and absurdity at the same time.
Often, media approach us or tell us about dramatic situations. TV news summarize in a minute how thousands of people died from starvation somewhere in Africa,  just after a while we are back to our reality: football, traffic, culture, domestic politics or the weather forecast steal our attention. Alfons’ stories go straight to  the heart, so they cannot be forgotten.  The gazes of people he portrays, the contexts in which they live,  the struggles and powerlessness of the photographer when confronted with tragedy, the effort made by thousands people and organizations across the world to cope with these situations, directly touch our soul. More than this, they hit our conscience  through the outstanding exercise of awareness raising  performed by the author of this book, produced with many years of work and travel in different countries worldwide.
Intermón Oxfam focuses on three interconnected areas: living environments (income cration, food security, alternative production in rural environment, smallholder farmers groups, fair trade, access and right to land and wáter), humanitarian action (saving lives,  preventing and mitigating humanitarian crises, strengthening individual and community resilience to crises of any kind, whether related to food, climate or conflicts), and, last but not least, women’s rights.
We collaborate with many organizations worldwide, to cover functions and responsibilities which are not provided by their governments, who often allocate their budget entries  to low priority issues if not to buying weapons,  private bank accounts, nonsense or corruption, as it occurs in many developing countries. By adding unfair trade norms, the effects of climate change,  and the exploitation of natural resources by multinational corporations  with no scruples, we get our current reality.    Just note a spine-chilling figure: today, at global level, military expenditures account for 1 billion Euros, while the money spent on cosmetics reach 400 million Euros - nearly fourfold the amount destinated to fight poverty. 
Lack of solidarity and humanity, inconsistency… It is only us, the citizens, who can change this, demanding social justice and basic human rights for all,  calling for governments’ responsibility, claiming firms’ ethic and transparency, and asking for international regulations safeguarding  people rather than the interests of a powerful minority.
Changing the world depends on us, and works like this book help us facing reality.  I always admired the ability some people have to transmit feelings and emotions. The Third Rider is full with all this and I believe that its readers will share with me its spirit of denounce of such situations of injustice.

Extract from Oxfam introduction of the book The Third Rider by Alfons Rodríguez.

© translation by Nicoletta Di Tanno

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