It’s so easy to obtain a gun in the United States, there’s even a bill floating around Congress called the “Stop Online Ammunition Sales Act.” Although if you plan to kill someone you aren’t always inclined to get a permit—so it’s pretty fucking easy to get a gun illegally too. In fact, it’s so easy that the police offer rewards for people turning in illegal weapons.
You know where else it’s easy to get a gun? I’ll give you a hint, it’s the murder capital of the world: Honduras. You can have MEGA guns there, and even carry up to five at once. Despite what some NRA dudes will tell you, crime is through the roof there based on a simple concept: If you have a gun, I’ll get two. Shit is so fucked that even their airports aren’t safe.
In between reading about the latest insane shooting in the United States—which seems to change daily—and trying to tune out everyone’s opinion on “why” it was happening, I heard about a street artist in Honduras who uses the moniker Urban Maeztro whose art is directly commenting on the gun situation there.
The former graphic designer quit his job and is now devoted to his craft, which is wheat-pasting the provocative images he creates, commenting on the horrific gun violence in his homeland. Unlike Banksy, Urban Maeztro has no punch line or underlying joke, he’s just real. He plasters his artwork, which often contrasts iconic paintings with vivid pop art rendered firearms, in dangerous public spaces, hoping to start a dialog about the dire situation in Honduras.
Urban Maeztro faces real danger when he’s out pasting up his artwork, not just hoping that a rival crew won’t beef with him. In addition to dodging bullets, he’s been shot at while putting up posters, and he also fears the police. “The dangeris always the same,” he says, “and it is ironic that our fear is not the criminals who operate in our cities, our fear is the police. They are the ones cracking down on those who speak against the government, and it can start with a beating, all the way to killing someone.”
When asked about the significance of the imagery in his work he replied, “Thefamous paintings juxtaposed with weapons represent my beautiful country, with its vast natural resources, historical sites, and lovely people. But the arms and the drug trade violate all that, hiding what’s beautiful. The impact of violence in our society is almost impossible to heal. People live in collective hysteria, and there’s no social interaction among citizens.”
Photographer Javier Arcenillas recently photographed Urban Maeztro as he pasted his protest art in the streets of Tegucigalpa.