Celebrated as a triumphant collaboration between the American and Mexican governments, the damming of the Rio Grande in the early 1950s was expected to prove highly beneficial to the valley inhabitants of both countries. The success of this project, however, necessitated the gradual submersion of the colonial city of Guerrero beneath the water of the man-made reservoir. The inhabitants were uprooted and displaced, robbed of their land, their sense of community, their places of worship, study, and play—even their graves. Guerrero Viejo—simultaneously in Spanish and English text—is a haunting tale of power and priorities, of a place sentenced to die.
Weaving oral interviews and personal investigation, Elena Poniatowska chronicles the historical and social development of Guerrero from its founding to its abandonment by all but a few residents. Their narratives and memories offer a vibrant vision of this historic colonial town which is juxtaposed to Guerrero's current state as captured in Richard Payne's photography. Through sensitive prose and eloquent black and white photographs, this book reclaims the city of Guerrero and offers a valuable lesson for the world today.