Guatemala: Indigenous Teacher and Artist Kidnapped and Murdered

This post is part of our special coverage Indigenous Rights.

An increasing spiral of violence has impacted different communities in rural Guatemala. This time, the victim was a respected rural teacher, spiritual guide, dancer and artist from Sololá: Lisandro Guarcax.

Lisandro was kidnapped on his way to the rural school were he taught, in Chuacruz, Sololá. His deceased body was found with signs of torture as reported by an official statement from Cultural Center Sotz´il Jay [es], where Lisandro worked as the director. The blogs Colectivo El Papel [es], Red Maya (Mayan Network) [es], ComunicArte [es], The Pavarotti Center [es] and Quahutemallan [es] also reported the incident. Artists and indigenous groups are mourning the torture and murder of Lisandro.

Indigenous poet Rosa Chávez dedicated a farewell and a poem [es] to her friend and mentor on her blog, Santa Tirana:

Gracias por tus palabras sabias, por ser amigo, guia y hermano, tu fortaleza y tus sueños siguen con nosotros, en mi corazón estan los recuerdos que vivimos como semillas, es difícil entender la mala muerte, esa que deviene del desequilibrio y la maldad, da rabia y da coraje, el dolor corre por mi sangre, por nuestra sangre, pero tambien la luz que deviene de tu espiritu, que ya es latido de viento, sonido infinito, estrella, neblina, susurro de tiempo…

I thank you for your words full of wisdom, for your friendship, guidance, strength, your dreams are still with us, in my heart are the memories of the time we shared as seeds, it is hard to understand this tragic death coming from the disequilibrium and evil, it causes anger and it frustrates me, the pain that runs in my blood, for our blood, but also the light coming from your spirit, that is a heart beat from the wind, infinite sound, star, mist, whisper of time…

As the Director of Cultural Center Sotz´il Jay, Lisandro worked in Sololá with a network of indigenous Kaqchikel youth, rescuing pre-hispanic dance and oral traditions, as shown in this video.

A member of Cultural Center Sotz´il Jay performing indigenous dance. Image from Flickr user Grupo Sotz'il used under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic License.

Open spaces for art and expression like the cultural center Lisandro directed are an opportunity for teenagers in extremely poor and marginalized areas to reinvent their identity and revitalize their individual and collective self esteem. It works like a magic solution to discourage youth from getting involved with gangs and drug lords. But as this incident indicates, the spiral of violence is seemingly unstoppable, and it is killing the magic solution by killing the artists.

This post is part of our special coverage Indigenous Rights.

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