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09/02/2010

One year ago: Christian Poveda

September 2, 2010 |  6:00 am

Filmmaker and photojournalist Christian Poveda spent years in El Salvador chronicling the lives of the brutal street gangs, which arose from the ashes of the country's civil war. He ultimately paid for the work with his life, dying one year ago, after being ambushed and shot to death on his way home from work.

Poveda, who came to El Salvador in the 1980s as a photographer covering the civil war, had spent 16 months with members of Mara 18, establishing a relationship, gaining their trust and filming a documentary, which won cinematographic awards internationally. His death came a day after he spoke to The Times about his film.

"My proposal was at least one year of filming, and I explained my plan to them, which essentially was to show the human aspect of the gangs, to show who they are, these youngsters. And that really interested them," Poveda said. "And I was present for everything that might happen, the good things and the bad, and that established a relationship of trust."

That trust was betrayed, however, when new, less politically minded leadership took over the gangs. Shortly before his death, he expressed worry about the gang's growing violence and savagery.

Police said they believed Poveda was killed by Mara 18 gangsters who were part of the new generation he had alluded to, young thugs who either did not know him or, if they did, resented his work.

Read more about Christian Poveda's life and work in The Times.

-- Michael Farr

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