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Running-up 2010

Javier Arcenillas

Contract killing in Sión. The story of violence and death in Latin America


Contract killing is one of the most in demand and respected professions in Latin America. In El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico hit men recruit countless youths, including minors, who are seduced by the ease with which they can earn money (by murdering someone, a hit man can earn from 15 Euros to tens of thousands of Euros)in addition to respect and fear.

During the assassin training process, the youths, which come from the less fortunate sectors of society, start by killing dogs and pets in order tocalm the nerves.

To graduate, the hit men have to murder a person in a situation which involves a risk. Once their target has been pronounced dead, the assassin must attend the victim’s funeral to demonstrate that nobody saw him committing the crime. Once this test has been passed, the subject becomes a professional hit man.

In 2009 almost 21,000 assassinations were carried out at the hands of hit men in Latin America. The settling of scores, drug trafficking and the trafficking of immigrants are all areas to which specialised terror services offer their guns, nerves and lives. On average age hit men do not tend to be older than 27 year of age.


Humanist. Freelance photographer, member of Gea Photowords. He develops humanitarian essays where the main characters are integrated in societies that borders and sets upon any reason or (human) right in a world that becomes increasingly more and more indifferent.

He is a psychologist at the Complutense University of Madrid. He has won several international prizes, including The Arts Press Award, Kodak Young Photographer, European Social Fund Grant, Euro Press of Fujifilm, INJUVE, Foto Press Third Prize, Luis Valtueña of Médicos del Mundo, Journalism Doñana´s prize, Luis Ksado, Make History, UNICEF, World Photography of the Year, Fotoevidence, Finalist of the Leica Prize 2009 and Antropography 2010.

In recent years he has fulfilled photographic essays about Latin America outstanding "Territories"; in Jamaica he realized "Marihuana Traffic"; "Gladiators" from the Olympic School of Boxing in Havana and "Weapon Social Club" and love to arms in the USA society.

For his work with Médicos del Mundo about the Rubbish Cities in Central America, he has been a finalist for the Ojo de Pez Prize and his book "City Hope" summarizes his five years working on it. He has published in magazines a society portrait book "REVOLUZION" in which he sums up his daily activity alongside a photographic essay about charity in India titled "Kingdom Charity".

He is a regular photographer for Fronterad, (Global Group) and in Alcobendas´ Town Hall. His reports abroad can be found in some outstanding publications such as Time, Der Spiegel, Stern, Guatemala´s newspaper, or Miami Herald Magazine. Recently he has published "WELCOME" a book about the camp of refugees in Myanmar´s Rohingya in Kutupalong, aided Médicos sin Fronteras and worked on an article about shipbreakers in Asia, "ShipBreakers". Since the end of 2010 he´s been working on "SICARIOS". A violence and death story in Latin America shown in Photo España 2011.

Currently he is carrying out new ideas in parallel with traditional journalism to spread his projects and he is making up Audiovisual Projects with diplomatic work.