''PRACTICALLY all the boys/students I went to school with have been killed,'' says Garcia.

''One had his head cut off''.

They are doing nothing. But there is a tense nothing filled with something.

Hands in pockets, leaning on a parked truck. eyes left and eyes right, nobody talking, just standing there, on a corner, three men, white vests, sinewy arms, little rat-tail haircuts.

Boys,  -students, really

Our car stops. Shadows from the crude barrio buildings fall across the rain-wet road. Their edges softened in the damp.

''Don't take their photograph,'' Rigo Garcia whispers. ''Don't even look at them. They've killed people.'' He leans forward, whistles and then shouts, ''Ole''.

One of the boys/student looks in. He seems irritated, but nods us through.

*PERONIA, is a red-zone: A concentration of maximum anger within the capital city of an outstandingly violent nation*.   

THE LAST 40 YEARS OF GUATEMALAN HISTORY is snake trail of atrocity, corruption and unmitigated disaster:

It spans purges of left-wingers that resulted in  50,000  deaths; and earthquake that killed  27,000  and made a million homeless-

Government death squads; guerrillas; coups; territorial disputes; assassinated politicians and humans right campaigners; a civil war; an erupting volcano; tropical storms-

And an apology from the US for deliberately infecting hundreds of Guatemalans with gonorrhoea and syphilis during medical studies.

Currently, according to the UN, an estimated 88 per cent of the cocaine that reaches the US is smuggled through Guatemala. It is the drug trade that is often accused of causing the nation's extraordinary volume of killings:

24,021 murders between 2008 and 2012, with  122  massacres in 2011 alone.

The media blames the infiltration of the ultra-violent foreign drug cartels, the Sinaloa and the Zetas. The murder rate here, though, is far higher than it is where those notorious organisations originate:

39 per 100,000 in Guatemala compared with 18  in Mexico.

A 2011  Human Rights Watch report concluded that  ''impunity is the norm'' here, quoting official figures that suggest that  99.75  per cent of violent crime goes unpunished.

The narco-traffickers use savage means to maintain control of their areas. Sprawling youth gangs, such as Mara Salvatrucha  (also known as MS-13) and Mara 18, kill, torture and maim in theirs.

The police and vigilante groups, meanwhile, collude in extra-judicial  ''social cleansing''  against individuals who they suspect of involvement in either of these factions.

In the middle of all of this restless mayhem, there are ordinary people growing up, going to school, falling in love. They can walk around any corner, at any time, and find death.

''I'm here,'' writes the author,'' to meet the residents of Guatemalan barrios. I have come for their stories. I want to gather a sense of what life is like, when every day is spent in the shadow of death trap.''

They kill people for money.

It costs between $70 and $80. You have to kill someone if you want to join them, as an initiation. You saw those memorials outside? It was those boys who killed them.

One of them was sitting on the steps and they shot him in the head. He was 16. The other two were brother and a cousin, 13 and 17.

It was to stop them taking revenge.

In Guatemala, more than half of the population.......live below the poverty line.
Corruption is just so rife and civilian protests are as commonplace,.. like oxygen.
The Honour and Serving of the  ''operational research''  continues. Thank you for reading and maybe, learning.  

With respectful dedication to the Students, Professors and Teachers of Guatemala. See Ya all on !WOW!  -the World Students Society Computers-Internet-Wireless:

''' Recordings '''

'''Good Night and God Bless

SAM Daily Times - the Voice of the Voiceless


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