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Lianne Milton | Guatemala

Organization: PANOS PICTURES

A woman looks out the window at passerbys in Guatemala City, on Saturday, April 14, 2012. 695 women were killed in Guatemala in 2010, compared to 213 in 2000, and often by people they know. The 36-years of civil war left a brutal legacy of violence against women on the social fabric of this indigenous country. While today there is no official war, Guatemalan women live in a culture of violence that includes gangs, drug trafficking, machismo and domestic abuse.

 There's a common phrase Guatemalans say about violence in their country: ‘La vida no vale nada.'
Life is worth nothing.

In 2011, the country elected Otto Perez Molina, a former army general to presidency. He emerged out of retirement with a 'mano dura, cabeza y corazon' ('a firm hand, head and heart') in an attempt to counter rising crime. He stands accused of widespread human rights abuses in the army during the Guatemalan conflict.

During the country’s 36-year civil war (1960-1996), about 200,000 people were killed and another 50,000 “disappeared” and buried in mass graves. It left a brutal legacy of violence on the social fabric of this indigenous country.

The murder rate is caused by four main issues; rising drug trafficking, increase gang violence, a heavily armed population (nearly 60% of people possess guns), and high impunity. While today there is no official war, this country of 15 million has a homicide rate of 40 murders per 100,000 inhabitants, one of the most dangerous places to live. Critics say Guatemala is on the verge of becoming a failed state.

Lianne Milton is an editorial and documentary photographer, and a member of Panos Pictures.

After graduating from San Francisco State University in 2004, Lianne worked for newspapers until she was laid off in 2009 due to challenging economic times in the industry. However, the layoff was a blessing in disguise, enabling her to pursue stories and personal work that she deeply cares about. Lianne began her freelance career with a project documenting the rise of Sharia law in Banda Aceh, Indonesia, a consequence from the 2004 tsunami. From 2009-2012, she focused her personal work in Southeast Asia and Latin America, exploring subjects such as food insecurity and the history of violence in Guatemala, as well as drug addiction and the impact of river dams on ethnic minorities living downstream in Cambodia.

In January 2013 she packed up her life in San Francisco and moved to Brazil, with cameras and surfboards in tow, to work on a collection of stories about changes in the country’s social and environmental landscapes.

Besides editorial publications, Lianne also works with international non-profit organizations which have brought her to Haiti, Guyana, Brazil, Ghana, Tanzania and Argentina photographing issues on poverty, malnutrition, education, women's empowerment, and corrective surgery for children with cleft lip and palate.

Lianne lives in Rio de Janeiro, where the City meets the Ocean. When she is not photographing, she's out there surfing. 


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