Ron Haviv is an Emmy-nominated, award-winning photojournalist and co-founder of the photo agency VII, dedicated to documenting conflict and raising awareness about human rights issues around the globe.
In the last three decades, Haviv has covered more than twenty-five conflicts and worked in over one hundred countries. He has published three critically acclaimed collections of photography and his work has been featured in numerous museums and galleries, including the Louvre, the United Nations, and the Council on Foreign Relations. Haviv’s photographs are in the collections at The Houston Museum of Fine Arts and George Eastman House, among others, as well as in numerous private collections.
Haviv has produced an unflinching record of the injustices of war and his photography has had singular impact. His work in the Balkans, which spanned over a decade of conflict, was used as evidence to indict and convict war criminals at the international tribunal in The Hague. President H. W. George Bush cited Haviv’s chilling photographs that documented paramilitary violence in Panama as one of the reasons for the 1989 American intervention.
Haviv’s film work has appeared on PBS’s Need to Know and Frontline, as well as NBC Nightly News and ABC World News Tonight.
His first photography book, Blood and Honey: A Balkan War Journal, was called “One of the best non-fiction books of the year” by The Los Angeles Times and “A chilling but vastly important record of a people’s suffering” by Newsweek. His three other monographs are Afghanistan: The Road to Kabul, Haiti: 12 January 2010, and The Lost Rolls.
Haviv has helped create multi-platform projects for Doctors Without Borders’ DR Congo: The Forgotten War and Starved for Attention, UNICEF’s Child Alert for Darfur and Sri Lanka, and the International Committee of the Red Cross’s World at War.
The area of Huaypetue, Peru was once surrounded by rain forest. Gold mining has devastated the environment. August 2010.
Ron Haviv visited the Peruvian Amazon in the summers of 2010 and 2014 in order to document the devastation of rainforests in the wake of illegal gold mining in the Madre de Dios region. At times it was very difficult to get to the mines, or to get access to cover this story. The destruction to the Amazon region ecosystem is immediately visible, and the area will suffer consequences long into the future. In 2014, Peru ranked 6th in the world gold production market. While this is a story thousands of miles away, it is born of global demand for the precious metal. It is a story that must be shown.
While not all mining in this region is illegal, much of it is. The illegal work is unregulated and practiced without regard for the environment or for the safety and well-being of the miners. The mining methods result in deforestation, toxic rivers and lakes, and an ecological threat to flora and fauna of the region.
Furthermore, part of the process of separating gold from mud can involve fifty-gallon drums filled with silt and mercury, which attaches to gold and is then burned off. In the course of this procedure, miners at illegal mines expose themselves to the mercury, a highly hazardous neurotoxin, especially detrimental to women of childbearing age and young children. By some estimates, over three-quarters of the population of the capital of Madre de Dios have unsafe levels of mercury in their bodies.
As the price of gold goes up, so do the profit margins for miners, legal and illegal, with dramatic consequences for the populations and the land in this part of the world. The rapid destruction of the rainforest, home to millions of species, is leaving a legacy that will affect generations to come.