It is almost fifteen years since the Peace Accords ending the Guatemalan internal armed conflict were signed by the State and the revolutionary guerrilla organization. Yet violence in this Central American country has now surpassed levels experienced during the war.

Authorities report an average of seventeen murders a day, and only 2% of crimes come to court. Impunity is rampant. The link between 36 years of armed conflict and present violence is irrefutable.

The exhibition features several case studies from the “post-war” period, showing how the social fabric was torn apart by 36 years of brutal internal warfare. In the course of investigations for reparation for victims, hundreds of mass graves were exhumed and relatives have been able to bury their loved ones according to spiritual and cultural traditions. Survivors, supported by human rights organizations, have used forensic reports on exhumations as evidence for charges of genocide.


Terrifying street gangs, known as maras, have members from families that broke up when they migrated to the United States to escape war in Central America in the 1980s. Many of these disenfranchised youths returned or were deported from the U.S. and became outcasts in a tough society with virtually no opportunities. This lost generation found an identity and “family ties” with the Maras, caught up in drug trafficking and organized crime.

With dozens of violent deaths every day, “morticians” known as calaqueros (skull mongers) rush to the scene of the crime to make sales pitches to bereaved relatives. Coffin-wake-funeral packages are available for as little as US$150, and funeral homes are now one of the most profitable local businesses.

Overcrowded, under-resourced hospitals attempt to treat the hundreds of victims that come in every day. Emergency Room staff handle victims of violence, mainly gunshot injuries, while patients with non-life threatening conditions often wait for hours or even days.

Public cemeteries in Guatemala City are full, so the administrators charge annual fees, and every year, when relatives fail to pay, thousands of graves are exhumed and the remains dumped in mass ossuaries.

Surrounded by these open wounds, the people of Guatemala attempt to bring a sense of normality to their everyday life.

Rodrigo Abd

Rodrigo Abd

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