On the 18th of April, 1996, my father and I were abducted from our home and held captive for thirty-three days by an organized crime group known as ‘Los Pasaco’. In the early 90s, ‘Los Pasaco’ were known as the most feared and notorious group of criminals. During this captivity, my father was physically tortured and eventually had his left ring finger amputated and sent to my grandfather to pressure him into sending more money for ransom.
Eventually, my father was released on the 30th day and told to gather more ransom money in order to have me released. Three days later, I was released in the small town of Monjas, Jalapa.
In the year 1998, the members of ‘Los Pasaco’ were captured, arrested and sent to trial. In this year, the death penalty was no longer in effect in Guatemala, but due to the magnitude of their crimes, five of the members were sentenced to death by lethal injection. As a person who firmly stands against the death penalty, I now face discomfort and confusion that something that I took part in resulted in five deaths. It is a common debate in Guatemala, whether the death penalty be reinstated or not.
This project will contain recuperated documents/ media of the time, but also include new documentation of locations, people, and objects that took part in the act. This abduction story will be used as a blueprint and allow it to branch out and shift into similar stories related to this violent condition. The project will serve as a way to shed light on the quotidian struggles of people living in Guatemala and surrounding countries. I believe that this is a perfect time to speak of this subject due to the current political status of the U.S. and the way that these neighboring third-world countries are seen. I am certain that this project will help further understand why so many are in constant fear of danger and are forced to take refuge in the U.S.
I initially conceived the project in the year 2012 and have worked on it on and off since. The initial task was to collect as much material as possible. I was able to find some images, online articles and audio recordings of phone conversations with the abductors as well as my father’s first call to my family once he was released. I then have been to Guatemala a couple of times and have photographed some of the locations, objects and characters that were important to the story. I have also located a box of archived newspaper cutouts and VHS tapes of news reports.
I will travel to Guatemala in the beginning of 2019 for thirty days to conclude the project. During this time, I will collect and photograph objects; interview and photograph characters; as well as travel to and photograph various important locations in and around Guatemala.
Risks and challenges
There are a few potential risks and challenges that I could face while creating this project. First of all is safety. I will be traveling to various known dangerous locations and will require to have police escort. The other risk is that of accessibility. I will do much research and preparation before I depart to Guatemala but I cannot be 100% sure that I will be able to obtain all of the access that I am interested in getting.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)