Hector wipes his hands on his shirt before turning his newspaper page so as not to stain it with sweat. He is used to the heat.
Not so his nephew Martín, softened by the air conditioning in his mother’s apartment. “Doesn’t this place have any customers, Uncle?” he complains.
“Some,” says Hector, not looking up. “Not like the old days. When Rios Montt was in power, I’d take fifty, sixty photos a day. Everyone wanted to leave.”
The young man fans his slick face with a movie magazine. “I wish it was like that now. This boredom is torture.”
“I always took payment in advance,” continues Hector. “Because in that time, you never knew if you’d see a person again. Every night there were arrests and disappearances all over the city.”
“You made good money, though.”
“Oh sure. And you know the only man busier than me?” He laughs. “The undertaker!”
Efrain Ríos Montt led the Guatemalan military regime in from 1982 to 1983. President Ronald Reagan praised him as “a man of tremendous integrity and commitment.” Infamous for telling the people “If you are with us, we’ll feed you, if not, we’ll kill you,” Montt, now 90, is currently on trial for genocide and state-sponsored terrorism.
Guatemala’s 36-year civil war ended with the signing of a peace treaty in 1996. Huge numbers of civilians, both indigenous Mayas and mestizo Ladinos, were slaughtered as a matter of course. More than 200,000 Guatemalans were killed or declared missing during the long conflict, making it one the most bloody wars in Latin American history. Though the war has been over more than two decades, the violence in this Guatemala continues, especially toward children.