Eduardo Leal is a Portuguese documentary photographer focusing on Latin America social and environmental issues, politics and traditions. He graduated in Journalism at Escola Superior de Jornalismo (ESJ) and has a Masters in Photojournalism and Documentary Photography from the London College of Communication.

Since 2009, Eduardo is a consultant to The Arpad A. Busson Foundation on the Cuban in Revolution and The Struggle During the Apartheid photography collections, being an assistant curator for the exhibitions at International Center of Photography (ICP) in New York, 2010, and at the Garage CCC in Moscow, 2011 and as an editorial and design assistant on Cuba in Revolution book, published by Hatje Cantz in 2013.

His work has been published in: Time.com, Roads & Kingdoms, Washington Post, Al Jazeera America, Dagens Nyheter, Svenska Dagbladet, Aftonbladet, Die Press, Courrier International, Greenpeace Magazine, Mashable, Raw Wired, British Journal of Photography, among others.

Eduardo was selected by l’Association Nationale des Iconographes at the Visa pour l’Image, Perpignan as a finalist for the 2014 ANI-PixPalace award. He also was selected as a Coup de Coeur for the 2015 edition. He was shortlisted for the 2014 Kuala Lumpur Photo awards with an image of his project Forcados. His latest series ‘Plastic Trees’ regarding the pollution caused by plastic bags on the Bolivian Altiplano won the 1st Prize in the Nature category on the 2015 Estação Imagem, the Portuguese photojournalism awards, and 3rd Place 2015 Sony World Photo Awards in the Campaign category.

Eduardo is based between London and South America and is available for assignments.

Countries like the United States and UK are trying to integrate elections seamlessly into daily life—you can vote by mail as if you were depositing a check, or even from your car while the engine idles. Voting takes place on weekdays. And yet, more often than not, voters just ignore the process altogether. Bolivia does things differently. The South American nation, which reelected leftist Evo Morales to an unprecedented third presidential term on the back of strong economic growth, is one of the small minority of countries that has compulsory voting. And to make sure everyone does their part, the country shuts down. No driving, no rallies, no domestic flights, no alcohol.

La Paz is usually a chaotic city, with cars, motorbikes, dogs, people, and the crowded mini-vans that double as buses all jostling for space on its streets. But on election day, the usual buzz was replaced by silence, broken only by voices and children playing and riding bicycles on the main roads. Completely empty of traffic, La Paz, becomes a ghost town.

Compulsory voting starting in Bolivia in 1952, and voting day restrictions have grown since then. Alcohol cannot be sold for 48 hours before and 12 hours after the polls close (Bolivians are fond of forms of pure alcohol and even industrial-grade alcohols that would wobble any democracy). Public gatherings or shows are forbidden; no vehicles can drive on the streets except with a permit from the Electoral Tribunal. Getting anywhere during an election is a challenge: La Paz’s bus and train terminals shut from Saturday 4pm until 3am the following Monday morning. Even flights are grounded, except those leaving the country or the international flights on a layover.

Some residents turned the once-crowded streets into their playground, riding bikes or playing soccer. Others complained about the disruptions to their business, their daily life and—the irony of democracy!—their freedoms.