Close menu Resources for... William & Mary
W&M menu close William & Mary

Daniel Hernandez-Salazar, Artivist: "Guatemala: History in 25 Images"

The scheduled presentation of Daniel Hernandez-Salazar was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Fortunately, there was a group from William & Mary in Guatemala for Spring Break, before the travel restrictions. He was able to give his presentation in front of that group. Here is the recording:

{{youtube:large:center|gfYl-TFL64U, Daniel Hernandez Salazar, speaking from the Guatemalan Archbishop's Office of Human Rights in front of a W&M audience}}


Silvia Tandeciarz: OK everybody we're here with Daniel Hernandez Salazar Guatemalan photographer who was to visit us at William & Mary and Corona Virus has kept away. But we're lucky to be here at the Offices of the Archbishop - The Human Rights Offices of the Archbishop of Guatemala.

We will see the installation his work called Esclarecimiento. And he will speak with us today about his trajectory as a photographer and his experience of recording memories of armed conflict.

So welcome - us! To Daniel's home.


Daniel Hernandez Salazar (about the projector screen): It seems not to work it's automatic. I wish... we will miss some part.

Introductory slide: Guatemala: Memory in 25 ImagesI'm very glad to be with you today I felt very frustrated when I got the message from Ben Boone from the College that the trip was canceled. and I also was going to go to Arizona State University this Monday but today I got an email saying that they suspended everything so. so everything collapsed.

But I am lucky that you are here and I can share with you part of my presentation which I hope I will give at the College in perhaps the fall or next year.

Betsy and Silvia asked me to prepare five or ten representative images of my work to tell Guatemala's recent violent history. It wasn't possible for me to just select five or ten so it's 25. And even with 25 it's difficult because - it's, you know, it's been too many things happening since the last half of the 20th century to this moment. So, I'll try to make a resume of that and mix with my my work.

 A young Daniel near some soldiers operating a large weapon. A large building is in the backgroundSo, first of all I want to tell you about me. Since I was a child I had this feeling that something was wrong in Guatemala. I had this awareness that something was wrong. That the way society is conceived or built here is unfair. There are a few people that have a lot and enormous amount of people that have only a few of the richness of this country.

And so when I grew up I began to see that I could do something about that. So as an artist I made the decision to try to document and share with other people what happened in Guatemala. I found out that photography - it could be the tool I I could use in order to have this influence on the life of my country.

So I decided to do it. I learned the concept in Spain when I visited the Basque Country. I met an artist there and he shared with me a concept which is artivism. I don't know if you've heard it I think yes. it's a combination of art and activism. So, I finally had a name for what I felt like I was.

Because I'm an artist but I also want to be an activist for human rights and justice in Guatemala.

So I thought and I wondered what could be my response as an artist to the horrors of the war and the genocide witnessed during my 10-15 years as a journalist here. I began at first to document because I think to keep a memory and traces of what happened is the most important thing we can do. Because memory in countries like Guatemala or many countries in the world is very fragile and has a lot of enemies.

The state always in general it doesn't like to keep memory of what happened in a country because they're always how to say - they have are always a responsibility on what what happens in their country. So they don't want to leave traces of the wrong things they have done.

I think that my art could play this role of first documenting or keeping memory of what happened. But also in a more personal way try to react and create metaphoric pieces to represent my feelings and a bit of the enormity of the tragedy that happened in my country .

One of the pieces is the one you just outside: the angels. But I would prefer to explain them in front of the of the pieces.

So now I'm gonna speak a little bit about Guatemala's history.

Slide 2: A large group carrying a coffin.You know last century we had a small revolution. Is not as big as the French Revolution, or the Russian Revolution - the Soviet Revolution - or the Mexican - or even the Mexican. but we had one.

In 1944 after 14 years of dictatorship of Jorge Ubico's regime, intellectuals, union leaders, and military, which is important, decided to make Ubico go and have a more democratic country. And that is what we called the spring of Guatemala. And that lasted for 10 years starting in 1944 and ending in 1954.

We had two governments during those those years. The first one was Juan José Arévalo. He was an academic, he came back from Argentina where he was teaching at the University to participate in elections. And he won and his Minister of Defense was Jacobo Árbenz Guzman who five years later run for president and also won the presidency.

But during the years of the of our revolution and these two governments many of the social how do you say gains - social security and education, and a lot of things. Some that we still have come from those years.

After those years we haven't had any advancement in things like social security of or economics that think about the population in general, not just the small groups who always benefit from everything you know.

But the problem was that the Árbenz government tried to implement agrarian reform which included the lands of the United Fruit Company. You know - the banana company owned by U.S. It was a - UFCO was a US company and the lawyer or ex lawyer of the company was a brother of the director of the CIA in the U.S. They were called the Dulles brothers, and so they had a great influence in Eisenhower's administration and convinced him of making intervention in Guatemala in order to put down this communist regime that was attempting to destroy US interests here.

Of course the oligarchs agree because they also didn't like the government because the government wanted them to pay taxes and to share a bit of the richness with the people. And of course the rich person's here didn't want and still don't want because they are still here.

So Árbenz's regime fell after a lot of pressure from the U.S. administration. They convinced and corrupted some militaries in order to betray Arbenz so his regime ended June 1954.

And the picture I'm showing you is the return of the remains of Árbenz in 1995. Finally he ... the government allowed the family to finally finally take back the Árbenz's remains to Guatemala.

He died in Mexico in 1973 I think. Some some people have told me - some historians told me that he was thinking of coming back to Guatemala. And that perhaps he was murdered because of that. I don't know. It's just just a speculation. But who knows? so he was he died he died in an accident. In his bathroom because the hairdryer fell into the tub. He was electrified. So it's very rare for a militar - very clever man to die in this stupid way. But anyhow, he died.

And so when he came back there was a big ceremony and a big welcome from the people and what you are seeing here is the coffin with his remains getting into the National Palace.

He was supposed to be carried by militars we see one in the bottom right - those are cadets from the military academy - but when the procession, the funeral procession arrived to the door of the palace the people, thousands of people, took the
coffin and run into the palace and invaded the palace.

They took the palace. It was very very very impressive.

So for me this was a key moment in history because we were like starting to reconcile with something very traumatic that happened in 54 which was the interruption of the democratic process of this country.

After Árbenz who I can't agree he was like a left-wing or a communist. he was just a progressive. Perhaps probability capital er he believed in capitalism but capitalism more fair more progressive that included good measures to poor people social security and everything.

But it was easier to put the label on him that he was a communist. More in those days, the McCarthy days I think which were very particularly in the US.

So, with him and his remains coming back for me was like starting to to heal a wound in our history. And perhaps we start our path to a better future. It hasn't been the case yet.

Slide 3: A group of soldiers with weapons on the back of a truck.So, after Árbenz's regime fell the repression began and like four years after in like in 1960 the repression coming from the government and death squads and the oligarchs. The oligarchs always hidden behind militaries began to persecute people who thought differently. Intellectuals, you know, leaders, you know,everyone that didn't agree with the new government.

after the government killed and disappeared and make people run away from the country all the people related with the Árbenz regime and people who were intellectuals had to flee to Mexico or being killed or disappeared.

Even the Árbenz's family and the whole government had to stay inside the Mexican Embassy next to the palace for I think almost two months before getting the permission to go out. and when they went out the the new right-wing government wanted to how do you say avergonzar, embarrass them. To the point that they asked all the persons including ex-President Arbenz to strip out of their clothes in order to see if they were taking something from the country. It was just to put the boot on them.

So this new regime - the liberation regime - started to persecute people who thought differently intellectuals, teachers, you know, doctors. And the army instead of protecting the people was an occupation army.

Slide 4: A group of soldiers with painted faces carrying weapons in formation.They had a very special squadron called the Kaibiles. Kaibil is the death mayan god of the war. And this special battalion has a very special training. Very cruel. Cruel. Most of the officers from this squadron and others went to the School of the Americas in
the US to to be trained.

And this is this particular squadron is very famous for their cruelty. Just as an example, part of the training of every Kaibil was the first day to get a pet - a dog - that would be with them during the whole training. And the last week they had to take the dog and the knife and open the chest of the dog and take out the heart and eat eat the heart. So, just to give you an idea of the techniques they were learning there.

Slide 5: A group of civilians, wearing brightly colored clothes, carrying a sign.And also in order to control people the Army and the government organized what they call the civilian patrols. And this men you see, there are women but more men, were were forced to form part of this paramilitary groups inside their communities so they could how you say vigilate their communities from the inside. And denounce all the Communists or Guerrilleros who could be within them.

By the way, the guerrilla movement started in 1960 I think. and the first guerrillas were militars who -young militars- who didn't agree with the new government and the way they were ruling. And they decided to make a protest and when they were weren't heard they went into clandestinity and they were the first guerillas.

So it's it's a lie that the guerrilla movement started because Russia or Cuba came here and put funny ideas in the people's mind. But that's not true. Afterwards of course the guerrillas got aid and training from the Cubans of course. Not from the USSR because the USSR I think didn't even knew what what Guatemala was. But from Cuba of course.

But in the beginning the guerrilla movement was a military- ex-military movement. So coming back to this military patrol, these were very cruel and also there was another figure called the military commissioner. el comisionado militar.

He was very important person in every community who was in charge of informing the army about the activities of the community and also pointing out who had to be kidnapped or killed or whatever because they did not agree with the government. so this was.

By the way, the men who participated in this patrols didn't get paid they were forced and also they committed a lot of crimes.So that was another way of make even this civilian society complicit of the crimes and the genocide.

Slide 6: Three women, wearing native Guatemalan dress, crying.Now this image is after the - in the final years of the conflict before the peace signature but after we we started with the civilian government. The exhumation process and the memorialization process began very slowly. So there were exhumations and this picture is - depicts widows of men or mothers of men who were killed during the war. Who are waiting in front of the National Cathedral for the remains of their loved ones to come out after mass.

And then put them in a truck to transport them to their hometown, and to re-bury them. How do you say - dignified manner.

Slide 7: Two women, holding posters with the caption "Donde estan?" and a lot of smaller photographs of individual people.And also there were groups of relatives from families of men or women who were disappeared that got organized to look for them. To ask for justice. To say that if they were taken alive they wanted them back alive. Where were their relatives. Their loved ones.

So this group was called the mutual support group. In Spanish is a grupo de apoyo mutuo, el GAM. It's not far from here to their office. They organized marches and demonstrations every week to ask for to know what happened with their families. And these particular demonstrations was called la marcha contra el oblivio - the march against oblivion.

And when I was like we're visiting my my files to make a book about my work I found this and realized that they were there was only one march against oblivion there were not more.

Of course there were more marches but not with that name. That those things re-affirm me in the the idea of the importance of keeping record of everything and documenting everything. because now for me it's so important to have this this photograph or the series of photograph that depict this specific march that was name "against oblivion."

And oblivion. Here it's also a way of crushing people's will.

The other day I was reading an article about a Chilean and I think Argentinean academic who works in Austin Texas in the university and the article spoke about how the establishment represses and controls people by making them wait for everything. By making lines for everything by making their lives difficult.

Because then people finally think "yeah everything is so difficult so we don't have to be like how you say it exigir, demand always. We have to wait. We have to conform." And the article is called the state patience from patience. And patients also from paciente medical patient. So that's another way to control and repress and destroy people's will.

Slide 8: A group of protesters. On the right is a man clapping his hands, a megaphone under his arm. Next to him is a woman holding a sign that consists of a younger man's face.And this other image is also from the same mutual support group. This was a demonstration in front of a house where Union Union unions had their offices not far from here like three blocks from here. and I can't remember right now the year, I think it was 78, the army and a secret police kidnapped like 40 men who were leaders of those movements in that house who never reappeared of course.

And this demonstration was remembering them and asking to know what happened to them. And the woman the woman on the right her name was Chusita Palencia. Chusita is the nickname for Jesusa, Jesusita, Chusita Palencia she was one of the founders of this group. And all her life she she struggled to know what happened to her son and she never knew. She died without knowing.

And he was included in what is called a military dossier. Here I don't know if you heard of it which was published by Kate Doyle in 1999.

Slide 8.5: The same image as above, but with the dossier record documenting the young man's capture and execution.It was made public. And this document is - it's a diary that the secret police and the army intelligence of the army kept. It was a record of people who were kidnapped. And you see in the text this is just like a detail of one of the pages. In every page there are like seven or eight persons.

And it's always the same: the name, his photograph taken from his ID, cedula it was a little booklet that we used before the carnet we have now. And then it's it says - let me see - "member of the fuerzas armadas rebeldes," the armed rebel forces. It was one of the four guerrilla organizations, and CNT, the Central Nacional de Trabajadores, and his alias, and he was captured on January 31, 1984.  And the address, and then it says, in front of this location, and he was together with this other person, alias Otto, the other guy. And this code 300 means that he was executed secretly on this date. The third of June 84.

Slide 9: A group of boys, holding photographs of their lost fathers.Now this other photograph for me is very important because these are orphans from men who were killed and disappeared on the Father's Day. We commemorate Father's Day on June 17. This demonstration was organized by the National Coordination of widows of Guatemala CONAVIGUA.

The president of that group is a woman called Rosalina Tuyuc, a very important leader here and who also some years ago was a deputy to the Congress.

And they organized this very significant march of them and you see how the child resembles his father in the picture.

I cannot document every event you know because I no longer work as a journalist. So I do it just for my personal project. So, what I do is to choose certain events which for me represent the things I think are important to keep in memory. And this one of course was one of them.

Also there have been many massacres. But the first to be famous to be known that the government couldn't keep quiet was the massacre of Panzos. It's a small village in the north of Guatemala in Alta Verapaz.

In the region there was a mining company and many landowners but very cruel you know. These are very like forgotten part of Guatemala. People speak a language called Q'eqchi', which is one of the 23 different languages, Maya languages that people speak here.

But Q'eqchi's have two characteristics. One, they are spread out in a large region of Guatemala and even Belize, the other country now. And also, they don't speak Spanish. Now they speak more, but normally they keep speaking their language you know not to Spanish.

Slide 10: A group of women, holding signs with images of their lost loved ones.So that isolates them from the development you know - from the country. Because when you go there you cannot speak with them and they cannot speak with you. And now it's changing but in those days it was like that.

So I'm telling you this because it's a very isolated place where the army and the rich people felt they could do whatever they want. One day the community went to the military base to protest against many things that they considered unfair. And the army just start shooting and kill like - I don't know - dozens of people. And it was so big that finally it went to the papers and all Guatemala knew about this massacre.

So for me it was very important to have document, photo documents of this, and this

is on the day of the 30th anniversary of the massacre and you see their daughters and sons of the people who were killed. In the middle you have this woman and her mother was called Mama Maquin. And she was the principal leader of the movement of those campesinos in that area.

So for me also it was very important that she and the pic she and the picture of of her and her daughter were in the picture because that that connects you with other parts of the of the story.

And this Massacre connects with other parts of the movement.

Slide 11: Description in textAnd this other picture besides my my angels is the most known picture I ever take I ever took. It happened in 1992. On the left you see mostly women and children from my community in Quetzaltenango. it's a farm called Cajola and they came to the city asking for their land and when they arrived to the city they were received by the police like this.

This happened in 1992 when Spain was commemorating the discovery of the Americas you know. And they had this campaign called Encuentro de Dos Mundos : 1492-1992. So I took that name and that's the title for the image. so in English it sounds more stronger because it's Clash of Two Worlds: 1492-1992.

And afterwards I - I and other people began to like analyze the the picture and you see there are many layers of meaning in the image. Because well of course, first, you have poor peasants and security forces. But also you have identity against people that have been ripped out of their identity you know.

Because on the on the right you have also indigenous people. But they are no longer indigenous they are something else. On the left you have mostly women. On the right you have only men.

Also, the way in the way the police hold the batons is almost phallic. So it's a total aggression you know between men and women. And also you have like color against monochrome.

And as final touch the helmets of the police I'm sure are Nazi. I mean original Nazi helmets from the Second World War. So you have also the coherence of the symbolic with the

And when I went to Europe to make an exhibition about my work I visited a military headquarters. And they had a collection of Nazi clothing and helmets. And the helmet was exactly the same with the same hole and the bolts. so it's an original, I'm sure.

I don't think that they bought them because they were Nazis you know. But in the unconsciousness of the repressive apparatus, I think they saw so natural to use those helmets. And also they were good helmets. But also Guatemala is a poor country, so we had to use used old material from the War.

But it's interesting how one picture can have so many meanings.

Slide 12: Description in textSo finally on December 29 1996 the peace process finished and we have the peace signature. And that night there was a commemoration party in the National in the Central Park right in front of here. And we see the national palace in the background. And what we are looking here is the President Álvaro Arzú with a wounded child from the war lighting the light of peace.

But I don't see any happiness in anyone's faces because the process really didn't achieve something. the agreements were very compromised neither the social society, the guerrillas, the army, the oligarchs agreed with that. Of course not all the things that each group asked was reflected on the agreements but at least something came out and the war stopped.

But you can see that in their faces from left to right, we have the Secretary of Peace who used to be a guerrilla. And for me it's almost like a traitor because after working within the revolutionary movement he changed to cooperate with this president who..

In the end I finally accepted and discovered that was a guy a very repressive autocratic right-wing person who just died a couple of years ago. He had like a maquillage of freedom and will to help the country. But in reality the only thing he wanted was something to how you say to to make more money for him and his group and his family.

The left this is Gustavo Porras, the Secretary of Peace then the military. There is General Espinoza who was the Minister of Defense. But after Arzú left the presidency and became mayor for a third time I think. He was in charge of the intelligence office in the underground of the municipality. Always working for Arzú.

Next the like the white-haired man with glasses and red tie he was the commander of the guerrilla movement.

And the ambience in the park was really not happy you know. There was no reconciliation. But what reconciliation could we have from somebody like Arzú who didn't really believe in the peace agreements and who worked for the agreements not to be fulfilled.

For example, one of the agreements was to have a truth commission sponsored by the UN, the Guatemala government and the army. They they organized that and the Commission worked. But when the final report was given and the chief of the Commission - a German guy called Christian Tomuschat who came from the Berlin State University - had to give this report to the to the country you know. Who was the one who had to receive it as a symbol of Guatemalan unity. 

But our president was Arzú and Arzú didn't want to to receive it. so he was in the National Theatre where this ceremony took place but he didn't stood up and came to the scene to receive the document, he didn't move. And the document was given to the Peace Secretariat you know.

And that for us was a harm against the process because there was no reconciliation.

Slide 13: A woman, kneeling. She is kissing a skeleton that is partially exhumed from a mass grave.So this is another image I really like. It's Rigoberta Menchu you know the Nobel Peace Prize winner in 1992 who has a very tragic story of her own. She was born in a little village in Quiche' department. It's called Chieal not far from Uspantan, which is another a little bit bigger village.

And since she was a child she had to come to the city to work in a house as a maid, as many indigenous woman did and still do. And her father was how do you say it a priest but he was a predicador, like a preacher of the Catholic Church in his community. But also he had a very clear conscience of how the things were. He fought for the community's rights. and finally he was he was killed together with her brother of Rigoberta in what is called the Spanish Embassy massacre.

I know you know that the place. But it happened forty years ago 1980 when Vincinte Menchu and a group of campesinos came to the city to speak with the president the Congress. Nobody heard them so they went to the Spanish Embassy. I don't know if the Spanish ambassador knew perhaps yes but who cares. I don't think that would be a crime.

And the peasants went to the embassy and took peacefully the embassy. And the government reacted by burning the embassy with everybody inside, including an ex-vice president from Guatemala and ex Minister of Foreign Affairs.

37 people were burnt alive. So her father and her brother died there. And her mother and her sister were killed in the fields.

So this picture is when Rigoberta for the first time in 2002 in March visited an exhumation. She had never ever went to an exhumation and I was invited because she knows me we are friends. And she wanted to have somebody of confidence to document that very important moment.

And you see that she lighted four candles. I I don't know but I imagine is her parent: mother, father, sister, and brother. And all of a sudden she did this: she she kissed one of the skeletons. These skeletons we don't know who were. Is not her family. But in a way I think it was her way of you know healing and remembering her family.

Slide 14: Description in textThis is again Panzos, the village I told you that was so important because it was the first massacre we knew about. And this is the during the final moments of the exhumation process. You see all the all the skeletons ready to be taken out from the earth. In the background you see the community who were witnessing the moment. And these are Maya priests burning incense to honor the persons and also to ask them permission to be moved.

Since then until now there have been like I don't know hundreds of exhumations all around the country but most - the largest number of of massacres and exhumations is in Quiche' Department.

Slide 15: A large group is gathered around a circular ossuary.This is the first ossuary that was opened out of three in a cemetery called La Verbena which is in the outskirts of Guatemala City. And in these ossuaries are is where they just dump the bones of people that died without identification. They could be killed in the street or poor people who died in the street or people who were kidnapped. And they were hidden and then just dumped there.

So the Forensic Foundation - the Guatemalan Forensic Foundation who I think you have visited - well they did this exhumation. And they open three ossuaries. This was the smallest. It was only seven meters deep there were two other - 25 and 35 meters deep. And I think they took out like 15,000 skeletons.

And I'm not sure if they found somebody from the war who was disappeared. I think yes but I don't have the information. But this one, this day, this picture depicts the the moment where when many relatives who are in many organizations asking to know what happened with their relatives.

The US ambassador was on the left side and other people came to make this ceremony when they started taking out the remains because it was very symbolic and for many years we've waited for them.

Slide 16: A young girl in Guatemalan dress and a man help prepare a box of remains.Now after the exhumation process there is also another step which is the devolution of remains to the families. And this picture is a family in Nebaj in the Ixil area of the Quiche' Province and they were receiving the remains of their relatives. You see the background in boxes. Each box contains the remains of one person. And theis remains came from exhumations done by the ODHAG team of exhumations.

They don't do it anymore, but in those days they did it. And they depart gave back the  remains of like 100 people you know, they they gather the remains until one moment and then they give it back to the families. And there was this huge mass in Nebaj and they gave back the remains to the persons and you see when they received it..

I think I have another picture I'm not sure. The bones are put it is inside this small coffin and the family puts them clothing and love things to dignify them, remember them.

Slide 17: A group of skeletons in an oblong grave.And this is a clandestine grave in a cemetery next to Comalapa village. Comalapa is very famous because of their painters. And because there was a very strong social movement during the war. So that made the town a target for the army to disappear a lot of people because there were many people who didn't agree with the government of course.

And this grave is for me it's very important because it's one of the first from which they took samples. The DNA samples in order to identify persons. And the first person to be identified in Guatemalan history by DNA from the Civil War were exhumed from these graves.

Also this grave is very particular because this clandestine cemetery was under a military base, the Comalapa military base. And the militars... As religions when conquerors invade another civilization what do they do they put their mark on top of the the other subdued civilization.

So this you see the how do you say how do you say ollas or tiestos o ceramics. These ceramic pots are not from the persons who were disappeared, no. Those come from Pre-Hispanic times.

It was an old traditional indigenous cemetery from, I don't know, the thirteenth century. And so the military base was installed on top of that sacred place. Which is another way of conquering and oppressing people.

Slide 18: A woman on the right gazes at a skeleton laid out in a morgue. The dossier record is imposed over the main image..So from those graves came out the remains of the first man - person - who was identified via DNA. And I as well - I had the opportunity to be there when the sisters of Sergio Linares, the guy whose remains we are looking at, First looked at him after more than 30 years of his disappearance.

He also is a case from the military dossier. You have his name and affiliation and date when he was captured. And we can read here but there is another date with the three hundred code because he was also executed.


Slide 19: A group of people in Guatemalan dress carry a small coffinAnd for me this picture and the next one are very important. Because this is the community coming out from the mass where they got back the remains of their relatives. And after after the celebration of the mass and you see a kind of happiness or liberation in their expressions. At least I see that.

Because finally they know and they have them back.

ISlide 20: A group of people around a small coffin. One woman holds a large image of her loved one..n this picture, perhaps it's more evident the expression on the woman who the portrait of, I don't know, her sister perhaps or her mother. For me he she looks like triumphant, you kno?

Slide 21: A large group of people, brightly dressed, filling the street with a line of coffins down the middleThey were marching towards the cemetery. and this is the largest burial I've seen with remains of like a hundred people.

Remember the three widows I showed you before? This is the burial procession with the remains of those persons.

This is in a very well known town in Guatemala called Chichicastenango. It's a very touristic place because it's very nice and very traditional. The clothing and the ceremonies.

So everyone who comes to Guatemala have to go to Chichicastenango, Atitlan, Tikal, and Antigua. But also behind that beauty there is this so tragic story.

And now I want you to put a lot of attention in the dissolving of this image with the next one.

Slide 22: A large group of people, mostly journalists with cameras and microphones surrounded and centered on one personThis is Rios-Montt's trial for genocide.

I tried as a photographer to to like be out of and document the whole thing including the press. Because for me the press is what I call the eyes of the world. if the journalists do not photograph - document those acts. nobody knows.

It's sad, but if nobody knows it doesn't matter. So for me this image is very representative of that.

I love to see Rios Montt: small, so tiny, crushed in this time. Repressed by the truth. And this is the big hall of the Supreme Court of Justice, right, I don't know, one minute after he was pronounced guilty of genocide and charges against humanity.

Sadly like two weeks after, the Constitutional Court with oppression of the oligarchy reversed the verdict and the guy died comfortable in his home. But I don't know how comfortable because I think he also had a conscience and I don't think he was he was tranquil with it.

If you are able to see La Llorona later or not today because I think you are planning to see it. you will get a feeling of of that. Even if La Llorona is a very free interpretation of Rios Montt's process. But it gives you the feeling.

Slide 23: Police clashing with a group of civilians, journalist video cameras held overhead.And as always freedom of speech and freedom of press is something that is always at risk. I took this picture out of the Supreme Court of Justice when the ex-vice president Baldetti was on trial for corruption. But you know always repression comes out and shows up and the press was attacked by the police.

And again, I prefer to be out of the scene in order to also register how my colleagues were were aggressed by the police. And I in a way I see this picture a little bit of it resembles a little bit the other picture I show you with the indigenous women on the left side and the policeman on the right side.

Slide 24: A group of protesters holding signsSo after all this, in 2015 we had like a revival of conscience and of the will of people to protest and say that they were not they didn't agree with this. With how the country was ruled. And kind of like unity because we saw like indigenous people together with the Ladino people and rich people with poor people and all demonstrating together against a corrupt president.

But the problem was that there was no ideology behind it. It was only that we didn't like the guy you know. But when the guy was gone also the movement and the will to protest. That's something very hard.

Here the dis-... I don't know if it's possible dis-education campaign that the establishment has imposed here has given good fruit because people are very unconscious. This is un-articulated

Slide 26: People recording their protest with cell phones.If you have 50 people in this room you have 50 different opinions. We are not trained or teached to work together. And I don't think that is by chance. I think it's a project to keep people fighting at each other.

Because the guys who move the string pull the strings, they are very articulate and always have been. And the new president we have is a good representative of that kind of people you know.

I don't know if you knew that British, I don't know, if the BBC or another chain did a reportage on the coffee that is exported from Guatemala for Starbucks and Nespresso. And the report was about that there were many children small children picking up the coffee. Harvesting the coffee to be in order to be sent to Starbucks.

And according to Starbucks it is forbidden. It's not part of their policy to accept that children would be put like in a forced labor to harvest the coffee they are going to sell.

So this reportage was very well done - secretly, and denounced this. Even this guy the actor - he wrote he worked as Batman once, I don't remember his name, who is like ambassador of Starbucks. Even him denounced this.

What was the reaction of our new president? He was worried about the bad image of Guatemala in front of the world. And that this was going to be bad for the coffee exporters and bad for our tourism. But he didn't care about the children.


Slide 26: A street scene, with a fire burning in the center. The Angel is in the background. And so the model still keeps you know. So we have to work hard to make people aware of all this. And within this like pessimistic scenario we have to keep our memory and we have to keep memory alive. And never forget what happened and why it happened. Because if not it's gonna repeat you know.

We have to pass the real historic memory to the new generations. And we have to fight against this oblivion official policies that are imposed on us.

And with this I finished my talk. if you have any questions and afterwards I would like to give you just a short explanation of my, of these pictures.

By the way the wings of the angel are scapula bones. The shoulder blade bones of an actual victim exhumed from a clandestine grave under the military base of El Chal in Peten department in the north were next to Tikal for example.

So thank you.


Slide 27: The fourth Angel. A shirtless young man poses with hands cupped around his mouth as if he is shouting. His image is imposed over the image of large scapula bones that extend over his shoulders like wings.Questioner: Over the years how have you seen journalism change?

Daniel: If journalism has changed? Well I think now, work by journalists - by some journalists - is more is better you know. It really tries to to go to the truth even if there are risks.

Because the main newspapers they depend on advertisement. So those papers are never going to publish anything that puts at risk the revenues. But now with the internet there are a couple of electronic journals like Nomada, Plaza Publica who don't care. Because they they get money from other countries or from the Landivar University, in the case of Plaza Publica.

So they really go and investigate so that's that's very good. That's very good. So in that way I think it is it's better but only this kind of media you know.

But the official ones like El Periodico, Prensa Libre, La Hora - they don't really go into the real facts.

By the way many journalists were killed during the war.

Questioner: With these photos, how do you get them to the audience you want to see them?

Daniel: how do I present this to?.. Well in talks like this, making exhibitions, in a book. I don't know if you've saw this book. It was published by University of Texas Press.

I also did a very good show in this museum in Belgium. This is the catalog of the museum. Where they the director of the museum decided to include at the end. It's a Holocaust and Human Rights Museum. But at the end of the the museum he decided to include the Angels because the director told me that for him, these angels represent Belgium for him.

Because during the war Belgium had to cooperate with the Nazi regime. capturing Jews, Gypsies, gays you know. Put them in a special prison called Kazerne Dossin. And send them to actions.

And so when they finished, how do you say recorrido, the path of the museum. Which it has three stories, at the end next to the Auschwitz exhibit, there there are the Angels.

So every guide when they finished the visit they tell them that these angels that come from Guatemala. And there is you say that caption - placard explaining that these angels represent Guatemala, the war the genocide.

The first three angels that covered their mouths their eyes and their ears representing the Belgium attitude during the Second World War. And the fourth angel - it's a call to have a different reaction and now speak out about what happened in Belgium. Or here.

And for me it's great because that's what I always wanted, besides making people aware in Guatemala of what happened to us.

It's also for me, so important, for other countries to know about us and what happened to us and because of whom. And also that people from Guatemala compare and realize of the magnitude of the tragedy that happened to us. That the way we behave now it's a consequence in a huge part from that trauma you know. And unless we recognize that we are not going to heal as a society.

So for me to have these angels in that museum is very significant.

Those are the ways and also I do postcards.

Questioner: Could you describe your relationship with the Archdiocese?

Daniel: Well, the people from here knew me before the historic memory recovery project finished. So when they finished they have to publish the report. And they knew me because I was working for the press and well I think they had an idea of my the way I thought and the respect I had for certain things. So they called me and asked me for pictures for the covers of the reports.

And when they came to my office which was like two blocks away from here in those days. I they asked me for pictures and I presented them with the Angels. And he told me the director, Ronalth Ochaeta is his name, and director of the this office and the director of the project was a guy called Gutierrez.

They told me you only have these pictures and I said for this yes. Because I knew these pictures must must had to be in the covers of that book. They said well okay and I gave gave them the picture of the three angels. Because in those days there were only three.

For me was my way to represent how people here don't want to deal with the past. Because they feel complicit or they don't like or they are afraid or whatever reason. In general, Guatemalans don't like to speak about things that bother them.

So they went away and like a week later they came back. and they told me no they phoned me and they told me okay the REHMI- that was the name of the project- the REHMIteam accepted your proposal. so we have to talk again.

So they came back to my office and they told me yes we are going to use your angels. But the problem is the book, I mean the report is going to be published in four books. And I said well, not a problem we have to I have to create a fourth angel.

But not only because of that but because you are more important. You are going to break silence on what happened in Guatemala. So I proposed to create the angel that speaks out. And that's the origin of the fourth angel. And they accepted it.

Over the years after Gerardi's assassination, many years after, I learned that the REHMI team was Gerardi. He was the one who said yes we're we'll use the Angels.

And it is so it's not funny it's not the word is the strange or bizarre or interesting to see how things begin to concatenar. How do you say to come together in a way. Like if there would be a plan or I don't know a destiny.

Because when the books were going to be published, Monsignor was alive. The secretary of the then director asked me to use the fourth angel to for the invitation card of the ceremony. And I said yes of course it's an honor. An honor for me that you want to use it but I want to ask you something for. For that is that I can use the words that Mongisnor Gerardi proposed to be the name for the reports.

Because now it's Guatemala Nunca Mas - Guatemala never again. But the last two names that they were like balancing to choose from were "Guatemala never again" and "so that all shall know." Which were the words of Gerardi.

And those words stayed forgotten because they didn't use them. But I knew so I asked the permission to use those words, to put as title of the fourth angel. And then like four days after, Gerardi is killed.

And then I began with the idea of every year to commemorate him installing the angel in the streets. But the angel has the name that Gerardi wanted you know.

Many other things. It's a long story.

That will be my presentation if I finally I hope go to -yes

Questioner: You talked about how there were other journalists there filming.Were you at all in danger at one point in time?

Daniel: I don't know. I cannot how do you say presumir, assume that. I remember that days after the publication the presentation of the report and after Monsignor Gerardi's assassination, I lived like two blocks away from here. And I got phone calls like at three a.m. of people just laughing and insulting me or ringing my bell also at 2:00 3:00 a.m. in the morning.

Nothing else, but a couple of months after there was a shot in my bedroom from the street. I was looking at the television with my family in the living room. And we heard something. And I heard like if a frame with a picture fell to the ground because it sounds (ba!)like this.

And we went to the room and we didn't see anything. And then when I looked at the floor I saw pieces of glass. And then what happened here? So I raised the shades and I saw the broken glass you know. And when I saw again in the in the ground it was the bullet.

But well we also as a journalist, an artist, well you always have friends you know. I had a good friend who was the public relations officer from the UN Commission for the vigilance of the fulfilment of the Peace Accords. So I immediately called him and for me it was very important to talk it over the phone.

Because you know it is sure that the intelligence from the Army or from the government or whoever could be listening or were listening. So it was good for me. It was protection for me or or I felt it was protection for me to speak it over the phone with a very important UN person or an ambassador.

And he asked me to go immediately to his house and we went with my partner and we stayed there.

And also there was another part of the this commission from the UN in charge of Guatemala in particular because the other one was for the whole country and this one was only for the department of Guatemala. And the director was a Chilean woman and she also helped me support me.

And like six months before, yeah I had an exhibition in El Salvador of this work of bones - the Angels. And when I came back I, I wanted to celebrate the my birthday and my mother's birthday because they they happened during my staying in El Salvador.

And when we were going to celebrate we had a car accident. A guy, a drunken guy, crushed my car and my mother died and I almost died in there.

The same year and before I went to El Salvador this woman from the UN Commission told me, are you going to go alone by land in your car with those pictures? And I said yes. And she said no way and she sent a car from the Commission who was behind us until we got to the Salvadoran border. And then we moved.

But there was always this threat like floating. They investigated, they said they investigated that the accident in case it was not an accident. But they didn't find any clue or anything. You never know.

Yes if you ask me a question?

Questioner: What have been the reactions to your work?

Daniel: What have been the reactions of my work? Well for example for the suite installations I think you've heard of. I installed the angel in certain points of the city. As I said the angels represent what Guatemala is you know. People don't speak.

So only people from my family because we did it in a clandestine way. We didn't say to anyone "We work in this room, within this table, putting up the posters" before we went to the street to put them in certain spaces. But besides us nobody knew about it. Because for us it was a kind of protection to do this in a clandestine way.

And the reaction was almost almost nothing, you know. But afterwards you learned that people say those are the pictures that Daniel did and those are Gerardi's pictures.

And relatives from me call me and they told me have you seen your angel in the streets? Because even my closest relatives didn't knew that it was us that were doing that.

But besides that? No. But there were important reactions because three of the places where I decided to put the angel was next to the U.S. embassy, some military had headquarters. And the ones that were next to the military bases lasted like four days and then they disappeared.

But the project was of course putting up the posters, but then the project was taking pictures of the posters with people in front with the ambience. Because you begin to like create a new text with the image in within the environment.

But also to keep a record of the destruction or disappearance of the angels. And then I felt like the angels were the disappeared because they began to disappear. Because they were destroyed.

The first one to be destroyed was next to the Industrial Bank, the Banco Industrial, which is owned by the richest people in Guatemala. It is interesting to see that it was the first angel to be destroyed. But then the military didn't do anything until four days after.

So I have the picture with the angel in the base. And then without. But you see the mark. You see the absence of the angel.

And for me that's the piece. It's better than if they wouldn't do anything.

I was waiting for something to happen to the angels because that was a reaction from which I could learn something, you know.

And then well of course there were some articles in the paper. But since I didn't we sent a press release the night we did the installation to the papers. But I think since we sent that to the press room, I think they didn't get it. We should have sent it to the cultural section. because the other guys are too I'll say I don't know, too direct to everyday news you know.

No not something elaborated like an installation because they with the Angels there were no words. It was just a picture. because for me the picture told everything. It didn't need any any text, any explanation. It was Gerardi. It was the memory. It was the truth commission. It was enough.


Questioner: What change do you think is needed to create a space for open dialog and what role do your pieces play in that?

Daniel: Well to say that my pieces play a role it would be.. I think it's not to me to say it.

But for your first question I think it's it's a change of will, a change of mind in society. And mainly from the more most powerful people. That they can permit you know allow the this dialogue because they know they  don't want any dialogue. But because they know every dialogue will go against their interests. Because they have so much they have so much control of everything.

For example, again this new president, who is like I don't know if a servant or a representative of the oligarchy, authorized that the government will pay for the pesticides for the coffee and the sugarcane plantations. Which are private private privately owned.

Why do we as people have to pay for that if they they get millions of dollars out of benefits out out of the exportations and in selling sugar?

So unless these people how do you say softened a little bit that tightness of the control they have on Society, and permit, and don't corrupt politicians. Also because there is a lot of corruption of which they are also victims. But they have created it.

Unless they permit and support a dialog, nothing nothing will happen. If the powerful people don't allow that to happen, there has to be something violent.

For me, the problem is that our revolution, that's why I always make jokes about it, it didn't finished. It was to soft. This problem Guatemalans always want to be nice and to be how do you say estar bien siempre con todo el mundo, to be liked. But everyone don't do anything that will bother or get angry anyone.

Be nice, always be nice. And with that you do nothing. Because I think you you have not to be nice in order to achieve certain things.

It's like the Mexican Revolution. Some blood had to to how you say - to flow. the French Revolution don't speak about it. The Soviet revolution the U.S. Revolution. You have to fight for it.

And here it was like half ways you know. Perhaps we we still have that revolution pending and we have to fulfill it and go through this traumatic huge conflict in order to reorder the society.

El Salvador is a little bit better than us because there the guerrillas almost won the war. Almost. So that gave them more power. Now, the problem is that they became corrupt. But at least El Salvador works better I think. People work more together and they have a more common view of their future.

Here is so difficult. Because here it's also a combination of unwillingness from the powerful people, but also that we are like two worlds: the rich world and the
poor world. The Ladino world and the indigenous world. And also the indigenous world is atomized.

We- I come back again to the what I said before is we are kept separated. Any kind of organization here is not good.

It's funny how the words that start with a "C" they don't like: like comunitario, comunidad. It goes to communism you know. Sounds like communista compañero - No! Never!

This is it's like in the States there are people who still see communists everywhere you know. Bernie Sanders is a red guy. It's funny how this mentality is still still present.

I mean here it's worse because we are less educated.

Silvia Tandeciarz: It seems like there's a whole what you call art activism...

Daniel: Artivism yeah

Tandeciarz: Artivism that can extend beyond national borders. And that perhaps thinking trans-nationally is important also for change in Guatemala.

Hernandez: A difference now is that the international community is present again here. That's why the NGOs new law has been approved by this president. Because this law what it wants is to put more control on the money that the NGOs received from the outside.

Because this government, the oligarchy, the establishment, see the NGOs as insurgents you know. As people against the system because they they have new ways of thinking. Inclusion of LGBT communities. Helping people to develop and to get the education. And they want to control that you know

Tandeciarz: Also, you mentioned at one point issues that seem to
affect indigenous rights also affect the environment. Extractivism, pesticides it seems
very much connected.

Hernandez: Oh yeah. To me it's incredible. Us to pay for pesticides for the sugar cane
owners. They make a lot of money. For us - they contaminate our air because they burn the sugar cane foundations to make it easier to cut the sugar cane.

Instead of using the right machinery and investing in this machinery to make this procedure more sound for the environment. They burned that. So when they are burning the sugar cane in the coast here...

[The talk is interrupted, and the group goes to the area where hang the four Angel pictures]

So this is like the official site for the angels. I will explain to you a bit of the photographic technique.

This is not a digital photo, this is an analog photo. so this was printed in my darkroom by me, myself. The pictures were taken by a Pentax camera, 6 by 7 centimeters.

The image was constructed with two images: the photograph of the bones, which I took in the at the Anthropology Foundation, and as I said come from a clandestine grave under the military base of Goban; combined with the pictures of this guy who is a model. Is a friend of a friend.

I chose him because he looks very like average Guatemalan. For me, not 100 percent Mayan, neither 100 percent Ladino. He's a good mix. more representative of the Guatemalan people.

After I took his picture - the last one - because the first three, I took them in June 97. And the fourth one I took in December 97 or January 98.

After I took the one, he went illegally to the U.S.. And he lives in Los Angeles, which
for me is symbolic because the angel is in Los Angeles.

I don't know his whereabouts anymore Which is sad because I -
there's a pending project I have to do work on his life because his image became so important for Guatemalans.

So I combined the two negatives in an enlarger. And I projected that onto the silver plate. Then I developed the photograph.

I did it in pieces for two reasons. First, because I cannot develop such a large piece of paper. So, doing it in parts is it's easier. But also, to have it broken is also good to represent the suffering and the breaking of the social tissue and the trauma of the war.

And then I wanted to represent the nails to install the photo. And what else.. Yeah I explained the name.

For me it's very important that the pictures are here because of the symbolism of the place. But also because of it's a semi-public space so more people can see the pictures.

There is also another copy - an original copy of these angels at the Rafael Landivar University.

And also the last one which is important for me is in the Antwerp University in Belgium now. Because the director of the museum afterwards was elected as rector of Antwerp University. And he liked so much the Angels that made from me another copy of this size.
And it's in his bureau, so every time he meets for a conference, or has a very important meeting, the meeting happens in front of the angels.

Questioner: Is there a reason why you used that scapula in particular?

Hernandez: Well, this comes out from a talk - I had a conversation with a friend from the Forensic Anthropology Foundation. He was thinking about bones and he told me "Look at the shoulder blades. They look like wings. Wings of birds."

And in those days I had this idea of creating an angel. Because it was like a vogue in the art world to create angels. So I wanted to do this angel, but I think I didn't want to do an angel like the other ones.

So I had this idea. And when I spoke with this guy about the wings of birds, I thought they could be also wings of angels. And in that moment I decided to create the angels with the scapulas.

[door opening, traffic noise] the roots, the reasons for the conflict are still there. Almost the same as before.
Injustice, unfairness, lack of education. So, and now we are more. So the services and the land - the resources are not enough for the people.

Plus, you have an unfair system. People have to go out. If we had a better system...

That's something Trump should understand. Instead of building walls, he should
use that money to help people here to be successful you know to educate.

Why would I like to go out if I have enough to eat and be happy here?

Is there not another reason we can not leave. Me yes, but others no.

[traffic noise, door slam]

Thank you so very much