Civil war, political repression and internal strife shaped the lives of thousands of Guatemalans in the 1980s and isolated the country from the outside world. Traveling the country from 1980 to 1988, Jean-Marie Simon, an American-born photographer, catalogued the turmoil and created a unique record of a country in conflict. An English-language collection of 150 of Simon’s full-color photographs was published in 1988; but this year a Spanish edition was released for the first time in Guatemala with the support of the Soros Foundation. The release of Guatemala: Eterna Primavera, Eterna Tiranía (Guatemala: Eternal Spring, Eternal Tyranny), is accompanied by a traveling exhibition featuring 40 photographs from Simon’s book.
Sponsored by the Centro Cultural de España, the exhibition, called “Itinerencia,” has already drawn crowds as it makes its way through Guatemala. “I was really surprised by the desire of the people who lived through that era to remember what it was like,” says Simon. “People in their 20s, 30s and 40s at the time really want to look back and remember.” Sales of the limited release of Eterna Primavera will help fund the production of another edition containing 200 photographs and priced to reach a wider Guatemalan audience.