Tuesday, May 5, 2009

La Limonada, Guatemala: The Precarious Life

Next week we go to Guatemala to shoot.

Why there and not a favela in Rio, or on the outskirts of Mexico City? Why do the Latin America shoot in Guatemala?

As we looked at the various slums in Latin America (unfortunately, there were plenty to choose from) we decided to focus on a slum that hasn't received much attention from the world. Not that most slums have, but some are more famous than others. Rio, for example, has been featured in several movies and the favelas are almost romanticised in some quarters. Funny how media can make a location famous (i.e., just think about the baseball fields here in my home state of Iowa.)

Guatemala is a small country right next to Yucatan, Mexico. We don't hear much about it in the news, it gets very little attention, and yet, 70% of the population lives on less than US$2 per day. In the countryside, 30% live on less than $1 per day. In the city, 8% does.

Guatemala City has about 2.5 million people and estimates show that at least 60% of them are poor. Those with the lowest incomes live in very precarious situations.

Our goal is to spend a week with two women who live these precarious lives; Tanya and Selma.

Tanya and Selma have stories that border on the unbelievable. We hope to make their stories real and believeable with our lenses and microphones. They live in a slum community called La Limonada, which had its beginnings in 1959.

When the government put an end to the agrarian reform program in the '50s, that, plus socio-economic problems accelerated the migratory process from rural to urban. About 600 families invaded the sides of the gullies in front of the Olympic Stadium and thus was born La Limondada, one of the largest slums in Central America today.

We don't know Tanya and Selma's history or complete story yet, but we hope to find out. As the author Chaim Potok said, "in the particular is contained the universal." Through the particular stories of Tanya and Sara, we may gain clear insight into the more universal story of the plights of tens of thousands more who live the precarious life in Guatamala City and in cities around the world.

I'll post more here about Tanya and Selma, the good people who are making this possible in Guatemala City, our experiences as we shoot, and what we learn. Thanks for checking in.

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