We have received word from Jean-Marie Simon that her book Guatemala: Eternal Spring – Eternal Tyranny
will be republished in Guatemala this year. Originally published in 1988 by WW
Norton, the new version will be in Spanish – Guatemala: Eterna Primavera, Eterna Tiranía.
I first came across this book, in hard copy, while at the Mountain
School, several years ago. It had the look and feel of a coffee table book
until you took a closer look. The clue perhaps lies in ‘Eternal Tyranny’.
It contains pictures of stunning quality and bravery, especially considering
the subject matter and the context within which the story was told. The photos
relate to the author’s time in Guatemala in the 1980s and are placed within a
narrative context. The photographs present a people visited by State brutality
and have the quality and ability to show the terrible sadness, helplessness, and
fear of the Guatemalan people confronted by this power. The book’s cover notes state that the ’text
and pictures tell the story of a people imprisoned, particularly the Mayan
Indians, whose lives have been torn apart by political strife’. The book also
takes us to the capital and features scenes from the struggle in the city. The photographs
are accompanied by text and this sometimes adds another layer of horror.
There are many distressing images and they will elicit different responses.
For me, there is a photograph of a young boy titled, Eleven year old mascot, military barracks, Acul, Quiché. His parents
were killed by the army. He is dressed in army fatigues and has the saddest
look. Looking at this photograph I often wonder what became of that child –
what did they turn him into? In 1985, it was estimated that there were
100,000-200,000 of highland orphans (out of a population of 8.5 million).
This is a book I cannot recommend highly enough.
Follow Jean-Marie Simon’s
blog as Guatemala: Eterna Primavera,
Eterna Tiranía gets published in