Life, Death, Resistance in Havana Exhibit

Irina Echarry

Crosses in the church.

HAVANA TIMES – Nicaragua, El Salvador and Guatemala are the three countries that awakened Jonathan “Jonas” Moller’s social consciousness and art. Two passions, activism and photography, which he tells us, have flourished together.

He tells us about his experiences in this tumultuous region of the world in an exhibit titled Our Culture Is Our Resistance, on display until May 28th in the El Reino de Este gallery at Havana’s National Library.

Jonas arrived in Nicaragua shortly after the Sandinistas were defeated in the 1991 elections, when sadness and hope divided the Nicaraguan people. Some lamented the left-wing government’s removal from power while others thought that the US blockade would end, as well as the war with the Contra, which had left so many dead.

After vainly applying for a visa to enter El Salvador, he went there by land by way of the United States as part of a 1993 Pastors for Peace solidarity caravan. He visited various refugee communities while he was there.

That same year, he left for northern Guatemala to accompany the Comunidades de Población en Resistencia (CPR) as a Human Rights observer. The CPR came into existence in the 1980s due to violent repression led by the Guatemalan army against civilians who they accused of being guerrilla fighters.

Daniel holds a photo of his father killed by the army in 1982.

Many people escaped to Mexico while others settled in the forest and mountains where they developed organized and autonomous communities that resisted death and military control until the 1990s.

This exhibit tells us about all the places, and the people that Jonas met, the pain and above all, these people’s relationship with death.

The black and white pictures of serious faces and noble gazes are impressive. Children born hidden in the forest; a church where Jesus isn’t alone on the cross, many other crosses accompany his, bearing the names of some of the murder victims or the disappeared; remains of corpses; exhumations.

To see these photos is to embark on a painful journey, but one that is worthwhile because of the professional and human quality they display.

The gallery is open Monday to Friday from 9am to 5pm.

Click on the thumbnails below to view all the photos in this gallery. On your PC or laptop, you can use the directional arrows on the keyboard to move within the gallery. On cell phones use the keys on the screen.