World

Funeral services get competitive in Guatemala

At a park near the historic center of Guatemala City, a bus driver was recently shot and killed, one of dozens this year. Denis Enamorado waited beyond the crowd gathered around the marked off crime scene. Soon, a colleague brought him the funeral contract he'd drawn up to offer to the owner of the bus, standing nearby.

Enamorado walked discreetly over to the bus owner, handed him the contract and retreated to the back of the crime scene to wait for a response.

Enamorado is what Guatemalans have gruesomely nicknamed a calaquero, someone who looks for calacas, or skeletons. His job is to find business that sustains his family funeral parlor.

The rising body count in Guatemala City, fueled by gang violence and rampant crime, has been great for the funeral business. But Enamorado said increased competition has forced him and others to battle for clients at crime scenes, hospitals and the morgue.

"Before, people [clients] used to come to the funeral parlor," he said. "You didn't walk the streets like now."

Enamorado and his wife, Emma Solares, seem to have a big advantage – location. Their business, Funerales Solares, sits right across the street from the morgue, where all the city's violent crime victims end up.

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