Guatemala’s Sad & Dark Past


I am not a person who writes or likes to discuss politics, from the country I call home or the country I was born in, Guatemala. Yesterday someone who was part of the sad past that I mentioned died, Efrain Rios Montt.

I know to people who follow my art might not care for the history of my country, and I’m not trying to change your mind. I’m writing about it because as I read about him and I explained to my husband about the turbulent past that my country suffered during and after the civil war, I realized not a lot of people know about it.

German Chupina, Sin | 2016 | ORIGINAL AVAILABLE | ©LESLIE M. GUZMÁN

My artwork is meant to have emotions and when I succeed I love it. I never thought I would have dark and hard to swallow art, but I did create several pieces. I created them for my Fragments series, as the past of my country that I did not experience because I wasn’t yet born or because my mother took me away from it all, including learning about the genocide that occurred in my country.

German Chupina, Unforgiven| 2016 | ORIGINAL AVAILABLE | ©LESLIE M. GUZMÁN

(The two works are of Cornel German Chupina Barahona, who was the Director of the  National Police in Guatemala, anyone from Guatemala knows about some of the things he was accused of)

So today I explain the few pieces that hurt to create and now I find the right words to explain them. German Chupina was involved in things to place during Efrain Rios Montt rule. I went with these two photos of him because I had seen words in Guatemala directed to him about never getting forgiveness. My Grandfather was an avid photographer in his day and before he passed he gave me many of his photographs. I worked from these photos that were passed down to me.

They are all inspired by that time period of death, disappearances, and cruelty that no one likes to discuss but did happen. I have family members that don’t really answer my questions when I bring it up. Yet I walked through the streets of the city and see reminders on walls, words of the victims’ families that do not forget.

Justice for Genocide| 2016 | NFS | ©LESLIE M. GUZMÁN

Now you can understand where the work came from. It was perfect for the Genocide exhibit that the above piece was selected to be a part of at the Holocaust Museum of Houston. All very sad but true and part of my country’s history and since I am 100% Guatemalan, part of my history.

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