Guatemala: in the home of the former guerrillas

Danny Alveal Aravena

2017 - Ongoing

Petén, Guatemala

When the combatants handed over their weapons, they had a moment to meet and look at each other on a farm where they would start a new life project. The rigor of clandestine life was over and the first thing they did was to tell each other their true names.

It was like a simultaneous birth of hundreds of people just out of the mountain where they had spent decades fighting within the Rebel Armed Forces (FAR) against the Guatemalan Army.

During three decades of participating in an internal war that left 200,000 people dead or missing according to the Guatemala report, memory of silence, the Central American country lived in times when thousands of families were destroyed and others, to avoid that fate, were dismantled with the march of one or several members towards the mountains to join the militias that fought the regime.

This is how they started a new life from scratch: without food or basic services, but the experience acquired during decades in the mountains helped to build what they have today, a piece of land where they live in peace.

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  • Bairon, a former guerrilla fighter, currently the president of the cooperative, shows me part of the land that corresponds to him in the new horizon cooperative. Each ex guerrilla partner counts on hectares to administer to his liking. In 1982 he joined the guerrilla since the village of Los Josefinos where he lived with his family was massacred by the army. He and his family escaped.

  • After leaving the forest, Bairon (pseudonym used in the guerrilla) is married and has two children and lives with his wife in the community. In the photo with your child less in one of the vehicles of the cooperative

  • View of the land of the cooperative. The farm has an area of approximately 900 hectares and is located 35 kilometers from Flores Island, Petén.

  • Alias Miguelito is in charge of the livestock part of the cooperative. Miguelito was injured in his right leg and never again was able to walk normally. He joined the guerrilla casually after hearing a neighbor. He told his family and joined clandestinely. He trained in Cuba for eight months.

  • Miguelito lives with his family in the community. In the photo with her only daughter born years after the armed conflict ended.

  • Beatriz Figueroa, ex-combatant, in charge of logistics during the armed conflict, takes charge of the logistics of the visits that go to Nuevo Horizonte. She is an administrator. She had children in the mountains and is the daughter of a former guerrilla.

  • The children of ex-combatants, in the primary school of Cooperativa Nuevo Horizonte, give the last details to the doll that represents the legend of La Chatona, a woman who, according to the popular knowledge of the region, was a very tall young woman, blonde and who lived from party to party.

  • All the children of the former combatants are guaranteed free education and it is their obligation to attend the classrooms.

  • "When I left, it was like knowing the world," says rudy, a child born in the jungle where the guerrillas fought. Its temporary function in the cooperative is to manage the sale of tilapia, a species bred in captivity in the lagoon that they have inside the cooperative.

  • Apart from his work as a keeper of tilapia farming and fishing, rudy teaches the new generations and the tourists who visit the cooperative the work he develops