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By Javier Bauluz

Photos: Rodrigo Abd / AP Photo

  • In Guatemala, dozens of people try to make a living in one of the worst jobs in the world. These people look for valuable objects in the foul waters that flow from the bottom of a 300 m deep cliff, located just a few blocks away from the Presidential Palace.

Dozens of people look for heavy metals in the foul waters at the bottom of Guatemala City’s biggest dumpster, known as “the mine”. Hundreds of informal workers dig every day through the filth looking for valuable objects to sell. The group is known as “the miners” and they expose themselves to the extreme risk of landslides. But many of them make about 150 Quetzals ($20) a day, almost double the country’s minimum wage.

At the bottom of this cliff sits the junction of unique circumstances: on one side there is the boundary of the city’s general dumpster, with mountains of waste that never stop to grow, overflow, tumble down and advance gaining space.

On the other, a tunnel exit that spews out a great flow of water from the city’s sewer system.

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By Patricia Simón and Javier Bauluz · Traslation: Blanca G. Bertolaza
  • Organizations and international experts ask the Spanish National High Court to investigate the sexual violence that was exercised against Mayan women as part of the genocide
  • On Monday we open a special feature about the different types of violence Guatemalan women suffer

Máxima García, victim of the gang rapings during the Guatemalan civil war (Javier Bauluz/Piraván)

Guatemala. A country with a population of around 13 million, with child malnutrition rates unknown in Latin America, with a failed State that has admitted to being incapable of taking control over the north of the country, where drug-trafficking cartels do, and murder, as they wish. A territory where street violence already made clear a decade ago that a life is worth nothing and machismo that gender violence can, besides murder – almost 600 women just in the past year– reach frightening levels of brutality and cruelty. All of this data portrays the international image of one of the countries with the least political influence, and therefore, attention, of the Latin American continent. A lack of interest that is not new and that remained during the 30 years in which a civil war massacred its population, especially those of Mayan origin. A conflict in which the figures, who are people with names, fathers, mothers, children and dreams, as we sometimes have to remind ourselves so we don’t get lost in the enormity, are proportionally much bigger than those of the dictatorships in Chile, Argentina or Uruguay: more than 200.000 people were tortured, murdered and disappeared in more than 600 massacres, more than 440 Mayan communities wiped out and more than half a million displaced to save their lives.

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