2017 - 2019
Started in 2017, the series is composed by the portraits of former gang members at the time of their act of prayer. Some were released few times ago, others had at the moment of the pictures several years outside jail and a strong compromise with Evangelical Protestantism. The series is an attempt to understand what they individually find in the act of prayer: Redemption? Inner peace? New life? New thought? Escape?
In El Salvador, gang affiliation is lifelong. But there is an exception: when “God reclaims a soul”, by death, or by devotion to religious activities. Conversion to Evangelical Protestantism became a way tolerated by the gang leaders to get out the gang alive in a country devastated by the endemic violence for 20 years.
The prisons have filled up, exploding their capacity of reception, while the public programs of rehabilitation are almost non-existent. Only some evangelical churches, welcome the recently released seeking to break with their past lives, like the Eben Ezer church located in La Dina colony, a notorious 18th Street gang neighborhood in San Salvador.
Conversions to Evangelical Protestantism are usually done in prison. One of them, located in San Francisco de Gotera, in the north-east of the country, reveals the extent of the phenomenon: In April 2018, the 1,500 prisoners sentenced for their activities in the 18th Street gang were all fervent Christians evangelizers.
As in many parts of Latin America, the Evangelical Protestantism extended in El Salvador during the last decades, achieving today an estimated 40% of its population. It tends to invest and supplant the political sphere, redefining the ethic concepts, therewith the fundamentals of democratic societies.