When the Killers Come Calling

A Guatemalan journalist and his family are terrorized by a gang of thugs

| November-December 2009

This has to be recorded for your children, one of my captors says. You’re going to die, you son of a bitch. They throw me in the room with my family. Ramón is 11 years old. The rest of my family have their eyes taped, but not him. He’s watching. I tell him: Be cool, don’t worry. I even smile. And I think deep down: Here the shit ends. Ramón is dripping snot.

Why are you making trouble? they say. Stop fucking with the higher-ups.

Every so often they say they are going to kill us. There are 12 or 14 guys, and they can’t stop moving. Shouts, threats, guns. One of them closes the curtains and climbs on the bed. He starts jumping around with a shotgun.

Rodrigo cries silently. The raiders tear the house apart. In my son’s closet they find a collection of guns. That’s when they go crazy. They drag me out of the room, say they’re going to kill me. I’ve now lost my bathrobe, I’m naked. Look, guys, I’m not making trouble, I tell them. Whatever you say, we’ll do. Just fucking kill me in the garage, so the kids aren’t brought into it.

They keep me outside for 15 minutes with a shotgun in my chest. Twice they pretend they’re going to shoot me. I’ve accepted my fate. But I lose it when they drag me back in the room, naked, and tie me up with neckties. Tell your children to watch, they say. And to them: You’re going to witness your father’s death. Ramón is in a green pool. I have no idea where so much snot came from. Everyone is crying.

They fire.

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