Maras (transnational gangs) are part of the social reality mainly in Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras. However, national and international mainstream media, seeking bloody images and stories, have made them also a stereotype of that social reality. Who are genuinely those youngsters, mainly men with tattoos and scars in their bodies? Why are they able to kill in the cruelest ways? Are they a marginalized obstacle for society or a result of society’s and state’s failure that must be changed structurally? In Mortal Doubt: Transnational Gangs and Social Order in Guatemala City, Anthony W. Fontes reels off this phenomenon in the capital of one of the countries involved.
This book published by University of California Press in 2018 is the result of an almost ten-year in-the-field research. During the 2010s, Fontes interviewed different aged mareros (gang members), previous ones and their relatives, Police and Prosecutor officers, NGO representatives, journalists, activists, researchers, and ordinary people, among others, to understand and explain the nature of these groups and their members.