“progress” uproots historic community

In the backyard of one of South America’s busiest airports about 350 families lived in an impoverished neighborhood known as El Ayllu.

At the beginning of March the land near Lima, Peru, was taken by eminent domain for the expansion of Jorge Chavez International Airport. The government doled out new homes and checks to the residents. These portraits document the residents during their final days in the neighborhood.

For many, it’s a positive change, as they will have homes with toilets and running water for the first time. But the residents say that doesn’t replace the tranquility and lifestyle they had in El Ayllu – an oasis in a rather dangerous urban area.

In Incan times “ayllus” were small, self-sufficient communities known for their collective labor and kinship. Hundreds of years have passed, but the principle lived on in this oasis in the Lima metropolitan area.

The land was once home to the grand Hacienda San Agustin that belonged to one of Lima’s most powerful and rich families. Buildings dating back to the 16th century were demolished and fertile land once farmed by Japanese immigrants and their descendants is barren.

Now the land sits ready for the construction of a second airport runway and the arrival of thousands of travelers each day.