For the past two years, writer Abraham Marquez and I have been working on two stories that span two very different moments in recent Latin American and United States history. One moment is tainted by the shadow of a U.S.-backed dictatorship in Guatemala whose security forces authored violent destruction and left collective grief and open wounds for generations of families of people who died or disappeared. The other moment is now – as U.S. immigration detention continues to serve as a heavy tool behind an asylum process that has become a dehumanizing nightmare for applicants, many from countries like Guatemala.

For families and friends of the disappeared in Guatemala this story will inevitably be triggering. We shadow the plight of one woman to stop the deportation of her husband accused of a violent crime, and we meet another coming to peace with the past as those involved in the disappearance of her husband are held accountable.

In the U.S. we focus on Leonor Gomez who wasn’t prepared to become an activist fighting two battles at the same time. One was aimed at stopping her husband’s deportation, the other was to prove his innocence for alleged crimes he committed decades ago in Guatemala. Her husband, Hugo Gomez, is caught in the crosshairs of two countries.

In Guatemala City, we center on Nineth Montenegro whose husband, Edgar Fernando Garcia, was one of the thousands who disappeared during Guatemala’s bloody civil war. A woman who after seeking justice for decades has now come to peace with the loss of her first love.

It is a complex story of a time in history when US involvement and dictatorship played a large role in the outcome of people's lives in Guatemala. We highlight the families who were personally impacted. It is also what I believe to be a love story, of two women fighting with all their strength for the men they love.

A Clash of Two Lives was published on August 2022 for palabra.

Words by Abraham Marquez and Zaydee Sanchez
Images by Zaydee Sanchez