In May our dispatches take us from the City of London to the State of Texas and on to the country of Zimbabwe. Billy Macrae photographed the G20 riots in London; Texan Lance Rosenfield has a moment to reflect on friends made over the two years he's been photographing a series on Texas small-town rodeos and the local bull riding cowboys who compete, and Will Baxter documents Zimbabwe's cholera epidemic at the same time the country's President Mugabe declares there to be no such thing.
Protests and riots were anticipated during the G20 meeting by London authorities and those in other European capitals. And, for good reason: they had at least nine years of history to study.
The G20, or Group of 20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors, was established in 1999. The world's 19 largest economies plus the European [Union] Central Bank discuss important issues of the global economy. Representatives of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, among other institutions, also participate [from the G20 Web site]. According to a 3/21/09 Times Online article, when the thousands of anti-globalization protesters showed up at the 1999 World Trade Organization meeting in Seattle, the city was caught off-guard. Since then activists have "besieged all manner of economic summits" like those of the G8 and Summit of the Americas.
Many world economic meetings now take place in isolated spots to control access – but London is no isolated spot. Billy Macrae made his way towards the Bank of England where the increasing crowd became a mob. With the police cordoning off the protesters into smaller spaces, tempers rose on both sides and riots ensued. We get Macrae's unique account of being within the crowds as things got very ugly. His black-and-white images subdue the blood but carry all the tension of the moment.
A look at Texas rodeo Web sites confirms one's suspicion that there are thousands of rodeos in the state: professional, amateur and high school rodeos at seemingly every wide place in the road. Photographer Lance Rosenfield continues to work with weekend cowboys for his project, "Thirst for Grit." The cowboys work at construction sites and other weekly jobs but on the weekend the world is theirs. The men, often beyond their prime, hit the road for small towns all over the state. The life Rosenfield chronicles is a hard one but full of life and an intense dedication to rodeos.
English photographer Will Baxter was in Zimbabwe in December 2008 during the widespread cholera epidemic. The BBC News online later reported (3/24/09) that there had been 90,000 cholera cases in the country since August 2008 and of those approximately 4,000 died. Numbers are probably hard to come by because while President Robert Mugabe insisted cholera didn't exist, he was also trying to make sure that no reporter or photojournalist could prove otherwise. The BBC article continued, the "epidemic has been fueled by the collapse of Zimbabwe's water, sanitation and health systems." As a result life expectancy has dropped precipitously – 37 years for men and 34 years for women. Baxter's image of a new child's grave being dug in a crowded cemetery speaks volumes.