Sebastian Liste | The Brazilian Far West

Sebastian liste.jpg

Country of origin: Spain
Project location: Brazil
Program: Magnum Foundation Fund
Year: 2012

He was born in the state of Maranhao, the poorest Brazilian State, so has spent his 60 years of life travelling the Trans-Amazonian Highway over and over again looking seeking out his fortune. He witnessed the construction of the Trans-Amazonian Highway and all its devastating consequences in the past few decades. He has spent all his life along this road, where he has worked as “garimpeiro” (illegal miner), woodcutter and cowboy, among other jobs. Over the course of his life he has also been enslaved in remote farms located deep in the forest, until he managed to escape.

With all his experiences, I tried to understand what leads a man to leave his home, his family, and to venture into no man’s land with the uncertainty of not knowing if he will return someday. The hopelessness and the misery of the Brazilian Northeast is so devastating that, as he said it to me, a man is capable of doing anything to get out of this hell.

By the time I had finished speaking with him, I had already decided. My path had changed. I was going to journey within Maranhao State to see what was happening there, what was pushing thousands of men to leave everything and migrate through the Trans-Amazon Highway.