The photographs for Faceless in Guatemala were taken in August 2017, while I was walking the streets of the capital. The word "Guatemala" comes from the indigenous term Cuauhtēmallān, the land of many trees. A local legend states, when Tecún Umán, the last prince of the Mayans, was born there was a quetzal in a tree, watching. The bird guarded the young prince, until his death under the sword of Dom Pedro de Alvarado, a Spanish conquistador. Struck with grief the bird soaked his breast feathers in the wound of the slain prince. Since then all male quetzals have a scarlet mark on their breast feathers, symbol of freedom and liberty for the citizens of Guatemala.
It seems as if the legend repeats itself in modern history and Guatemalans live with grief imposed by continuous violence and criminality, while the grieving quetzal lives among them.
Violence affects the whole capital and Ghettos of lawlessness dictate behavior. Divided into zones the city declares its safety. In the "Zona Viva" life is relatively safe for the rich. The poor are only able to gain subsistence there, whereas their real life is in the undeclared, or in one of the very dangerous red zones.
© 2018 by Chasper Senn