In 1993 I began doing human rights work in Guatemala with indigenous Mayans uprooted by that country’s long and brutal internal conflicts. I spent most of the next five years in primarily rural areas, working to support Guatemala’s most hard hit displaced and refugee populations in their struggle for the respect of their basic rights.
This is my view of the strong and compassionate people that I worked with in Guatemala. They are photographs of the members of the “Communities of Population in Resistance. ” These communities were born out of the exodus from the wave of massacres of the early 1980s, an exodus that took these people deep into the mountains and jungles. While tens and thousands of mostly Mayan peasants fled across the border to Mexico, the people of the CPRs, in the areas of the Sierra, Ixcan, and Peten, remained in hiding in extremely remote regions. There they formed organized, self-governing communities, and silently ‘resisted’ army control throughout the 1980s and into the mid 1990s. During this period they were accused by the government of being Guerrillas, and were hunted by the army.
Though we come from and inhabit very different worlds, I feel a certain commonality with these peoples, and hold the knowledge that we share the injustice of the world; and my awareness of the shameful role my country has played in their tragic and recent history. This work speaks of my vision as an artist, and to the lives of those in Guatemala, those who have survived and resisted death and exploitation, those who continue to struggle for their land, basic human rights, and culture.