Guatemala: A Violin in Silence After Murder of Youth

The latest victims to violence in a situation that Amnesty International describes as “Millions of Guatemalans are now living under the threat of violence and poverty,” are a young violinist, Hans Castro and his two companions Andrea Robledo and Edwin Urrea. The murders took place in the outskirts of Guatemala City and their bodies were found in an area called La Quebradita of the village of Valle de la Cruz [es].

Photo by Midiman and used under a Creative Commons license

Bloggers are mourning the loss of Castro, who was a member of the Symphonic Orchestra Conservatory, had been playing the violin for the 11 of his 18 years. The news hit Sakis González of Una Hoja de Papel [es] especially close to home because Castro was his sister's best friend as he writes in his post “The Orchestra Mourns a Violin, My Sister Mourns a Friend”:

La casa de estudios musicales de Hans se llenó de familiares, conocidos, amigos y compañeros de Orquesta tras el funeral. Interprentando una melancólica pieza, prorrumpieron en llanto aquellos que con un rostro cansado de tan gran sollozo, frotaron sus arcos y soplaron con el alma una hermosa melodía proveniente más que de sus instrumentos, del corazón, dedicada a quien en vida fue un joven ejemplar.

The Music School which Hans used to attend was crowded with family members, friends and their orchestra mates following the funeral. They played a melancholic piece, and people started to weep with their faces reflecting their tearful suffering, they placed their fingers on the strings and played a beautiful melody, which did not come from the musical instruments, but from their hearts dedicated to an exemplary young man.

Letras de Mariomarch [es] confesed that it was difficult to write about the topic, but it was also an obligation to say something for the memory of Hans Castro in the post “A Murdered Violin”:

Escribo éstas lineas, que seguramente no leerán sus familiares, para expresar y lamentar que lo que ha sucedido. ¿qué esperanza podemos tener en un pais en donde se asesina a jovenes artistas? ¿que podemos hacer para consolar a la patria, a nuestra sociedad, a la orquesta del conservatorio? ¿acaso hay algo que podamos decir a su padre el Maestro Castro, a su madre, a sus amigos y familia? Es vergonzoso, un joven que se dedica a tratar de ser diferente -todo artista lo es- ve truncada su vida por un asesino, mientras la mayoria lee la noticia y lamentablemente como es normal y usual, es simplemente una nota roja mas; y no es que la vida del joven Castro sea mas valiosa que la de otro joven, ni mucho menos; pero sin duda su muerte debe ser el ejemplo mas claro de la estupidez humana en éste país en los últimos tiempos. El violín asesinado debe estar interpretando una sonata de dolor y de decepción, esa que todos escuchamos todos los días en este ingrato pais.

I am writing this lines, which probably none of his family members will ever read, but I want to express and regret the situation. Is there still any hope for a country where young artists are murdered? What can we do to express our condolences to a nation, our society, to our National Orchestra? Is there any possible word to say to his father, to his mother, to friends and family? It is a real shame, a teenager that tries to be special – all artists are special – and their life is shattered by a murder, while the people read the news, and regrettably, it is the normal attitude of people, for them is just another violent piece of news. I am not saying that Castro's life is more valuable than the life of other young people, but I have no doubt that his murder is the clearest example of human stupidity of our country in our times. The murdered violin must now be playing a sonata of pain and dissapointment, the sonata we Guatemalans listen to every day in this ungrateful country.

In the midst of the ongoing violence, which ended the lives of Robledo, Tobar and Castro, the Guatemalan Congress is debating a new gun bill, and the United Nations’ International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG for its initials in Spanish) is currently underway to help the country investigate and dismantle, “violent criminal organizations believed to be responsible for widespread crime and the paralysis in the country's justice system.”

However, the country lost a very promising young musician. As the philosopher Victor Hugo said, “Music expresses that which cannot be said and on which it is impossible to be silent.”

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