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Remembering the Dead: Guatemala

Local cemeteries come to life when families decorate the graves of their loved ones with candles, fresh cut grass, and flowers. For two days they pray, eat, and remember their ancestors in honor of Day of the Dead. Image by Kristian Hernandez. Guatemala, 2018.

Local cemeteries come to life when families decorate the graves of their loved ones with candles, fresh cut grass, and flowers. For two days they pray, eat, and remember their ancestors in honor of Day of the Dead. Image by Kristian Hernandez. Guatemala, 2018.

Local singer Roberto Cepeda, 65, has been playing his acoustic guitar since the age of 13. On Nov. 2, 2018, he dressed up in a traditional black Mexican mariachi suit to serenade the living and the dead during the annual Dia de los Muertos, also known as Dia de los Difuntos in Quetzaltenango (Xelaju), Guatemala's municipal cemetery.  Image by Kristian Hernandez. Guatemala, 2018.

Local singer Roberto Cepeda, 65, has been playing his acoustic guitar since the age of 13. On Nov. 2, 2018, he dressed up in a traditional black Mexican mariachi suit to serenade the living and the dead during the annual Dia de los Muertos, also known as Dia de los Difuntos in Quetzaltenango (Xelaju), Guatemala's municipal cemetery. Image by Kristian Hernandez. Guatemala, 2018.

Every year on the morning of Nov. 2, a service is held on La Lomita, the highest point of the cemetery, hosted by El Calvario Catholic Church. Image by Kristian Hernandez. Guatemala, 2018.

Every year on the morning of Nov. 2, a service is held on La Lomita, the highest point of the cemetery, hosted by El Calvario Catholic Church. Image by Kristian Hernandez. Guatemala, 2018.

It is tradition for children to fly barriletes or kites atop the gravesites on Day of the Dead. Locals believe it helps the souls of those trapped in purgatory to ascend to the heavens. Image by Kristian Hernandez. Guatemala, 2018.

It is tradition for children to fly barriletes or kites atop the gravesites on Day of the Dead. Locals believe it helps the souls of those trapped in purgatory to ascend to the heavens. Image by Kristian Hernandez. Guatemala, 2018.

A sign at the exit to El Calvario Cemetery reads “The memory of the living makes the life of the dead.” Image by Kristian Hernandez. Guatemala, 2018.

A sign at the exit to El Calvario Cemetery that reads “The memory of the living makes the life of the dead.” Image by Kristian Hernandez. Guatemala, 2018.

Vendors pack the streets outside El Calvario Cemetery. Image by Kristian Hernandez. Guatemala, 2018.

Vendors pack the streets outside El Calvario Cemetery. Image by Kristian Hernandez. Guatemala, 2018.

A vendor sells tacos outside El Calvario Cemetery. Image by Kristian Hernandez. Guatemala, 2018.

A vendor sells tacos outside El Calvario Cemetery. Image by Kristian Hernandez. Guatemala, 2018.

A vendor sells flowers outside El Calvario Cemetery. Image by Kristian Hernandez. Guatemala, 2018.

A vendor sells flowers outside El Calvario Cemetery. Image by Kristian Hernandez. Guatemala, 2018.

At home, families prepare their own variation of fiambre, a classic Day of the Dead dish made of cold cut meats, dry fish, peppers, boiled eggs, vegetables, and beets. Image by Kristian Hernandez. Guatemala, 2018.

At home, families prepare their own variation of fiambre, a classic Day of the Dead dish made of cold cut meats, dry fish, peppers, boiled eggs, vegetables, and beets. Image by Kristian Hernandez. Guatemala, 2018.

Hundreds of migrants die every year trying to immigrate into the United States illegally, and thousands have yet to be returned to their families in Central America where they can be laid to rest in cemeteries like El Calvario in Quetzaltenango. Image by Kristian Hernandez. Guatemala, 2018.

Hundreds of migrants die every year trying to immigrate into the United States illegally, and thousands have yet to be returned to their families in Central America where they can be laid to rest in cemeteries like El Calvario in Quetzaltenango. Image by Kristian Hernandez. Guatemala, 2018.

Lidia Carreto, 40, holds a framed photo of her 16-year-old son Darvin, who died trying to immigrate illegally into the United States in June 2018 near Laredo, Texas. His body was repatriated to his home in the valley of Agua Blanca in San Juan, Ostuncalco. Image by Kristian Hernandez. Guatemala, 2018.

Lidia Carreto, 40, holds a framed photo of her 16-year-old son Darvin, who died trying to immigrate illegally into the United States in June 2018 near Laredo, Texas. His body was repatriated to his home in the valley of Agua Blanca in San Juan, Ostuncalco. Image by Kristian Hernandez. Guatemala, 2018.

Gilberto Gonzalez visits his daughter's grave every day. Claudia Gomez-Gonzales, 21, was shot in the head by a U.S. Border Patrol agent in May 2018 near Rio Grande, Texas. Authorities say she crossed into the country illegally and was trying to evade arrest—witnesses say she was hiding in a bush. Her body was repatriated in June and is buried at the edge of a cliff in her hometown of San Juan, Ostuncalco. Image by Kristian Hernandez. Guatemala, 2018.

Gilberto Gonzalez visits his daughter's grave every day. Claudia Gomez-Gonzales, 21, was shot in the head by a U.S. Border Patrol agent in May 2018 near Rio Grande, Texas. Authorities say she crossed into the country illegally and was trying to evade arrest—witnesses say she was hiding in a bush. Her body was repatriated in June and is buried at the edge of a cliff in her hometown of San Juan, Ostuncalco. Image by Kristian Hernandez. Guatemala, 2018.

Cemeteries in Central America, such as El Calvario in Quetzaltenanago, Guatemala, come to life when families decorate the graves of their loved ones with candles, fresh cut grass and flowers. For two days they pray, eat, and remember their ancestors in honor of Day of the Dead. Yet thousands of migrants who have died as they try to immigrate to the U.S. have not been laid to rest. They have yet to be returned to their families.

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