The Host Country
Area, Geography, and Climate Last Updated: 6/8/2004 12:47 AM
Guatemala is the most northern and populous of the five Central
American countries. Occupying 42,042 square miles, it is about the
size of Tennessee. It is bordered on the north and west by Mexico,
on the southeast by Honduras and El Salvador, and on the east by
Belize and the Caribbean Sea. Guatemalan coastlines cover about 200
miles on the Pacific Ocean and 70 miles on the Caribbean.
The country is roughly divided into four geographic regions: the
central-western highlands, the low northern plateau which is largely
jungle, the southern volcanic belt, and tropical coastal lowlands.
The temperate mountain regions are the most densely populated.
Guatemala City’s rainy season is May through October, and its dry
season November through April. Temperatures are generally moderate
during both seasons, ranging from an average low of 53°F in January
to 60°F–85°F in April. Frost and snow are unknown, and flowers bloom
Rainfall is heaviest from June through October, and the annual
average is about 52 inches. Wet months can cause mildew damage to
clothing, shoes, luggage, and upholstered furniture. Frequent airing
and the use of heating units in closets help to prevent mildew.
Personnel should consider bringing portable dehumidifiers in their
household effects (HHE) shipments. During the dry season, days are
clear and the sun is hot at midday with chilly to cold mornings and
evenings. During these months it is dusty, foliage turns brown,
grass and shrubs wither, and gardens must be watered.
Guatemala has 33 volcanoes, 4 within view of the city. Although
most are inactive, Pacaya, about 27 miles south of Guatemala City,
erupts occasionally with lavaflows to nearby localities. Fuego,
about 30 miles from the city, periodically produces displays visible
from Guatemala City.
Earth tremors are common. In 1976, a devastating earthquake
struck Guatemala. Some 27,000 people were killed and over 1 million
left homeless. Damage was greatest in areas with adobe housing. The
modern sections of Guatemala City suffered light-to-moderate damage.
Before 1976, the last major earthquake to cause considerable damage
occurred in 1917. A quake in January 2001 centered in El Salvador
was felt in Guatemala, including the capital. It caused deaths,
injuries, and structural damage.
Population Last Updated: 6/8/2004 12:48 AM
The 2003 estimated population was 11.5 million — some 3 million
of whom live in the capital and its suburbs. The annual population
growth rate is 2.7%. An estimated 44% of the nation’s population is
culturally indigenous. The remainder, which includes people of mixed
or European descent, speak Spanish and wear Western dress. Most of
the small population of African descent, the Garifunas, live in the
Caribbean coastal area.
Spanish is the principal urban language. A basic knowledge of
Spanish is necessary for day-to-day living. At least 4 major Mayan
languages and more than 20 dialects predominate in rural villages,
especially in the central-western highlands.
Public Institutions Last Updated: 6/8/2004 12:49 AM
Guatemala’s 1985 Constitution and 1993 constitutional reforms
provide for a popularly elected President and Vice President, a
unicameral legislature representing the country’s 22 departments,
and an independent 13-member Supreme Court. Municipal officials are
also elected. Executive branch officials and Members of Congress
serve for 4 years and Supreme Court magistrates, for 5 years.
Departmental governors are appointed by the central government.
The four parties and two coalitions represented in the 113-seat
Congress elected in 1999 span a political spectrum from the right to
former leftist insurgents. The executive branch consists of 13
ministries: agriculture, livestock, and food; communications,
infrastructure, and housing; culture and sports; economy; education;
energy and mines; finance; foreign affairs; government; environment;
labor and social assistance; national defense; and public health and
An autonomous Attorney General, appointed for 4 years, heads the
Public Ministry, which houses the prosecutorial function. An
autonomous Human Rights Ombudsman, selected by Congress for 5 years,
oversees compliance with human rights guarantees in the
Constitution. Autonomous or semiautonomous public institutions
include the de Guatemala, S.A. Empreso Electrics (EEGSA) and the
Bank of Guatemala. As in much of Latin America, the national
university, the University of San Carlos, is an institution of
considerable importance and provides Guatemala with many of its
Arts, Science, and Education Last Updated: 6/8/2004 12:53 AM
Textiles and painting are Guatemala’s primary art forms; many
artists have gained international renown. “Artesania” thrives across
the nation, producing colorful pottery, woodcarving, and other
objects. Exhibits by aspiring and established artists are held at
the now autonomous Binational Center, Instituto Guatemalteco-Americano
(IGA), and in other galleries. The Patronato de Bellas Artes
promotes artistic expression and the preservation of Guatemala’s
rich heritage of both Mayan and Spanish colonial art forms. To
further bolster the arts, the government has boosted funding to the
National Theater complex and a corporate entity modeled after the
National Endowment for the Arts. The National Symphony Orchestra and
the National Ballet Company perform as funding permits. The Biannual
Paiz Cultural Festival showcases, every February in odd years, the
performing and visual arts. Theater productions consists mainly of
semiprofessional organizations whose performances follow no regular
season. Productions are held in small theaters, the IGA, or the
city’s modern, attractive National Theater complex.
Guatemala’s national instrument, the marimba, known locally as
“the voice of the trees,” is played singularly or in groups of up to
20 musicians simultaneously playing five instruments resembling huge
xylophones. Though U.S. music, even “rap” with Spanish lyrics, is
increasingly heard, marimba presentations still figure prominently
in formal shows and at restaurants and theaters.
Perhaps the most interesting aspect of Guatemalan art and Mayan
culture is the profusion of native textiles. Guatemala’s 23
ethnolinguistic groupings exhibit their different roots by
distinctive costumes. The intricately hand-woven or embroidered
women’s “huipiles,” or blouses, are famous among textile
connoisseurs throughout the world. Many are trying to protect both
family/community weaving enterprises and this dying art itself from
machines churning out lesser quality tourist wares. The modern
Ixchel Museum, on the campus of Francisco Marroquin University, not
only engages in this endeavor, it houses permanent and changing
exhibits of indigenous textiles, and conducts educational programs.
Although most village men have adopted Western dress, interesting
men’s costumes can still be seen in the Lake Atitlan Region,
Chichicastenango, and in the department of Huehuetenango.
The Guatemalan scientific community is based in the universities,
the National Meteorological (INSIVUMEH), and the Academia de
Geografia e Historia. Several research centers formed under the
auspices of the Central American Common Market, including the
Central American Nutritional Research Center, are also headquartered
in Guatemala City. Most scientific effort is directed toward
San Carlos University, the national campus that enrolls upward of
90,000 students for minimal fees, was founded in 1676. The Faculty
of Humanities corresponds to a school of liberal arts in the U.S.,
offering courses in philosophy, education, and literature. Courses
in the sciences, engineering, medicine, and law are also available.
Beginning in the 1960s, four smaller private universities, Rafael
Landivar, Mariano Galvez, Francisco Marroquin, and Del Valle, opened
their doors to students and have continued to grow: the four
universities sponsor 20-odd “extension” campuses across Guatemala’s
departments. In addition, four very small private universities have
opened in the past 2 or 3 years.
For decades, scholars, researchers, students, and culturally
oriented tourists have been lured to Guatemala for its rich
anthropological and archeological attractions. Epigraphers (those
who study hieroglyphics) stand awed before the secrets of Tikal, now
a national park; historians delightedly burrow through the treasures
of the Archivo General de Centro America and the Centro de
Investigaciones de Mesoamerica (CIR-MA) in Antigua.
Commerce and Industry Last Updated: 6/8/2004 12:55 AM
More than 50% of Guatemala’s labor force is engaged in
agricultural work. Principal exports are coffee, sugar, meat,
cardamom, and bananas. Since 1986, nontraditional exports (e.g.,
textiles and apparel, fruits, winter vegetables, and flowers) have
risen dramatically and account for over one-third of all exports.
Corn, rice, and beans are the traditional Guatemalan staples.
The U.S., Guatemala’s most important trading partner, accounts
for over 40% of foreign trade. Germany, Japan, and Mexico are other
important partners. Guatemala, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Honduras,
and Nicaragua formed the Central American Common Market (CACM) in
1961 and Guatemala’s intra-Central American trade grew dramatically
during the 1960s. A series of institutional and political crises,
however, curtailed CACM progress. As external tariffs have been
lowered recently, intraregional trade has grown even more.
Guatemala’s industrial base of textiles, pharmaceuticals, and
agroindustry has grown steadily in recent years. Products are aimed
at the growing internal market, the CACM countries, other Caribbean
countries, and the U.S.
Guatemalans are generally committed to an open, free enterprise
economy, and foreign consumer products, especially U.S., are widely
available. Their private sector accounts for some 88% of GDP, one of
the highest ratios in the world. The Guatemalan Constitution
guarantees the right of private property, and government development
programs seek to promote private enterprise. No distinction is drawn
between domestic and foreign capital. The latter is welcomed for its
contribution to the country’s economic growth. Foreign retirees are
also welcomed and allowed certain tax benefits.
Since 1947, labor-management relations in Guatemala have been
governed by an extensive Labor Code (modeled on the Chilean Labor
Code) designed to protect the interests of both workers and
employers. Enforced by the Ministries of Labor and the Judiciary,
the code provides for collective bargaining between workers and
employers to set labor conditions above legal minimums. The code was
revised in May 2001 to comply with Guatemala’s International Labor
Organization and Peace Accord commitments. Unions have developed
unevenly since the code’s enactment and currently represent some 5%
of the workforce. Most unions are concentrated in the public sector,
in industry, and in commerce, but there are a few in agriculture and
in mining as well.
Although Guatemala is the largest Central American country in
terms of population and economic activity, its largely rural, Mayan
population lives in extremely difficult conditions: an estimated 75%
of Guatemalans live in poverty, adult literacy is estimated at 65%
(only 30% for Mayan women), less than half of rural Guatemalans have
access to running water, only 25% have access to electricity, and
less than 10% have access to modern sanitary facilities. Infant,
child, and maternal mortality rates are among the highest in Latin
America. In the hemisphere, only Haiti has a lower standard of
Automobiles Last Updated: 1/20/2005 8:51 AM
Guatemala is a country brimming with natural beauty and color,
and travel into the countryside is a welcome respite from city
living. Traveling around the country by private or rented
automobile, however, requires certain security precautions. All U.S.
Mission personnel should submit a Travel Notification Card to the
Regional Security Office before traveling outside the city. When
possible, travel in groups of two or more vehicles. Thieves posing
as military or police officers occasionally set up roadblocks or
force single vehicles off the road at gunpoint and rob the
occupants. Such incidents sometimes turn violent -- see the public
annoucement at the following State Department web page: http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/pa/pa_1769.html.
Travel after sunset anywhere in Guatemala can be extremely
dangerous, not only for security reasons but for safety reasons. All
travelers should acquaint themselves with the latest Consular
Information Sheet (CIS) on Guatemala, available on the Internet, the
Embassy’s Web page, or from the Consular Section.
All-weather paved highways traverse the country between Mexico,
El Salvador, and both seacoasts. Other roads, which are gradually
being improved, vary from two-lane, gravel-topped hard bed to
single-lane dirt. During the dry season, most unpaved roads are
passable, though often dusty and rough. In the rainy season mountain
roads are treacherous because of poor markings, frequent landslides,
and washouts. Driving to Mexico City takes about 3 days via the
coastal route entering Mexico at Tapachula. San Salvador is about 4½
hours by car from Guatemala City. Armed attacks in 2000 and 2001 on
the Pan-American Highway (CA-1) underline the risks to long-distance
travel in Guatemala.
Drivers in Guatemala take more risks than those in the U.S.; one
must drive defensively whether within the city encountering cars
charging up a one-way street the wrong way or along the highways
swerving to avoid large semitrailers passing on a blind curve at top
speed. Guatemalan law is strict with all parties in an accident, and
cars are often impounded. On the other hand, moving violations are
Although carpools and van shuttle service ease transportation
demands somewhat, a car is a necessity in Guatemala; residential
districts are located several miles from offices, and public
transportation is not recommended. As in any large city, shopping
and social obligations are greatly simplified with a car, but
limited parking areas and security remain an issue. Vehicles left
unattended in commercial or residential areas throughout the city
are vulnerable to theft and vandalism, and it is recommended that
personal vehicles be equipped with an alarm, fuel cutoff or other
security device, such as a steering wheel lock.
The Mission places no restrictions on the make or model of
imported cars, except that they should be inconspicuous. Auto theft
rings are a very serious problem in Guatemala, and U.S. Mission
personnel have been victims. Late model sports/luxury sedans and
4-wheel-drive vehicles have been targets of auto theft. Expensive
sport utility vehicles have been targets on open roads, while
Japanese sedans and pickups appear to be more at risk in the cities.
Most popular makes of cars may be purchased locally, but at
prices much higher than in the U.S. Small U.S. compacts offer many
advantages over larger models because of serviceability and
maneuverability in narrow, congested streets and limited parking
areas. Repair facilities are considered fair to good. Spare parts
for most popular U.S. and foreign makes are generally available at
prices higher than in the U.S., but many must be ordered by the
employee from suppliers in the U.S. and sent via APO. Write or call
the Embassy General Services Office or the USAID Executive Office
for further guidance and information.
Currently, diplomatic license plates (designated “CD”) for two
automobiles are obtained free of charge for all accredited Mission
personnel, but only one such vehicle may be imported duty free.
The Guatemalan Government includes drivers licenses for official
U.S. Government personnel in their carnet or identification card.
International licenses are not recognized in Guatemala. Operation of
motor vehicles (excluding motorbikes) by minors is restricted to
those 18 years old or over. The minimum age of the legal operation
of motorbikes is 16. The Guatemalan Government does not issue
drivers licenses to dependents who become of age. U.S. or other
country licenses must be obtained outside of Guatemala.
Guatemalan law requires that vehicles operated by Mission
personnel be covered for third-party liability. Mission regulations
require U.S. personnel to provide adequate personal liability
insurance for their private motor vehicles. Current regulations
require local 3rd party liability coverage for all personal
vehicles. Liability policies cost about $250 per year. Insurance
rates for collision and comprehensive coverage are much higher than
those offered by U.S. overseas insurance companies. Most employees
obtain collision and comprehensive coverage from U.S. firms.
Personnel assigned to the U.S. Mission have no special privileges
and must comply with, and are subject to, all Guatemalan laws and
regulations if they own and operate a personal vehicle. This
includes minor offenses such as parking and traffic violations.
Immobilizing “boots” (locally called “cepos”) are used to enforce
routine parking laws. Even first-time offenders are booted to ensure
that they pay the fine.
Local Transportation Last Updated: 6/8/2004 1:01 PM
Although private and independent bus transportation is readily
available throughout most of Guatemala City, their use is strongly
discouraged. Such buses are generally in very poor working
condition, overcrowded, and driven by poorly trained drivers. Due to
the overcrowding, they also present an ideal environment for
pickpockets and robbers. In the capital, service is frequent, but
with few buses scheduled after 9 p.m.; “ruleteros” (minibuses) pick
up and discharge passengers along major streets until midnight.
Taxis are available on a 24-hour basis, but can be expensive and
must be called by telephone or picked up at one of the several
stations throughout the city. Local taxi service in Guatemala City
has improved over the years. At least one company has renewed its
fleet and is equipped with radios and meters. Only taxis from
reputable companies such as this or those associated with the major
hotels should be used. In taxis that are not metered, the cost
should be agreed upon before any trip begins. Tipping, though not
expected, is always appreciated.
Regional Transportation Last Updated: 7/23/2003 3:21 PM
Interurban bus lines connect most towns and villages within the
country. Although serviceable, these buses are often crowded and
uncomfortable and are rarely used by American personnel. Numerous
tour agencies are available that offer comfortable transportation
and guides at a reasonable cost; however, large-capacity rented
vehicles and travel agency vans have been targeted by armed highway
The many interesting places in Guatemala can be visited safely as
long as the following recommendations are followed. Personnel are
encouraged to register their travel with the Regional Security
Office (RSO). The purpose of this system is to ensure that someone
knows where you are going, the route that will be taken, date and
time of your expected return, and how to get in touch with you. This
will facilitate quickly locating travelers who do not return and may
need assistance. In case of an earthquake or other natural disaster,
this will assist the RSO staff in locating all official Americans as
quickly as possible. Resisting criminal attacks usually results in
injury or worse.
Infrastructure problems common to many countries are present in
Guatemala. Main roads to the larger towns and cities are paved and
generally fair though plagued by deep potholes, washed-out bridges,
and during the long rainy season, sometimes impassable because of
mudslides and large fallen boulders. The major road to El Salvador,
along which is located one of the schools attended by Mission
children, suffers from erosion and undergoes periodic construction
Bus service is available twice daily between Guatemala and El
Salvador. Bus companies offer service from Guatemala to Mexico and
Honduras but may require a bus transfer at the borders. When
planning any in-country or international travel, Mission personnel
are urged to check with the RSO about criminal activity in the areas
through which they intend to drive. When traveling from El Salvador,
the border crossing at Las Chinanas, El Salvador/Valle Nuevo,
Guatemala, is preferred. When entering Guatemala from Honduras, the
border crossings are at either El Florido or Aguas Caliente. With
all crossborder travel, travelers need plenty of time to complete
border crossing formalities, which can be lengthy, in order to
travel to a major town before dark. For group trips, chartered buses
are available and border crossings are expedited.
Major car rental agencies, in convenient locations, offer car
rental options, but rates are high, between $55–$65 a day for
subcompact models. Both collision and liability insurance are
There are many daily flights in and out of Guatemala City, which
has its airport conveniently located right inside the city itself.
American Airlines provides three daily flights to and from Miami.
United offers daily service to and from Los Angeles and Continental
has two flights per day to and from Houston. Delta offers one daily
flight to and from Atlanta. The national airline, Grupo Taca, offers
daily service to Flores, Tikal, as well as daily flights to
Washington, D.C., New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Miami as
well as connections to other Central American capitals. Iberia, and
several other Latin American carriers, also provide international
Telephones and Telecommunications Last Updated: 6/8/2004 1:04 PM
The formerly state-owned telephone company, Telgua, was
privatized in 1998, and its interconnection agreements with
competing international long distance carriers came into effect in
mid-1999. As a result, with five different carriers competing (each
with a three digit access code) the cost of a daytime call to the
U.S. fell to less than 40¢ a minute, cheaper than Sprint/MCI/AT&T
phone card calls. There are also competing wireless telephone
companies and their services are relatively inexpensive. Digital
cellar phone networks are available throughout most of the country
and are widely used by Mission personnel. Although the cost of phone
line installation has come down, telephones normally remain when
tenants depart, and account names are not updated. The demand for
new telephone lines and installations throughout the city is heavy
and may involve a delay in hookup. Although Telgua is modernizing
its telephone network, most telephone lines into homes still support
rotary rather than “touch tone” telephones.
Internet Last Updated: 6/8/2004 1:04 PM
Dial-up Internet access is available from several companies
(often for no monthly charge), although Telgua charges 35 centavos
(about U.S.¢ 4.5) a minute for the call. Highspeed cable Internet
access is also available for $75–$85 per month including 50-60
channel TV reception. There is no per minute charge and both
services include email.
Mail and Pouch Last Updated: 6/8/2004 1:05 PM
Airmail letters to the U.S., via international postal facilities,
take 3–5 days; less reliable surface mail, 2–4 weeks or more. There
is daily airmail service in and out of Guatemala City and weekly
service for surface mail.
The APO facility operates as part of the Army Postal Service
under the jurisdiction of the USMILGP. Use of this facility is
extended to official U.S. Government personnel (excluding Peace
Corps volunteers, contractors, and others without duty-free entry
privileges) for all personal mail and packages. Address APO mail as
State, Agriculture, Animal Health Inspection Service (APHIS),
Health and Human Services (HHS), National Imagery and Mapping Agency
(NIMA), Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Foreign Commercial
Service (FCS), Peace Corps (PC/G), Marine Security personnel:
Full Name (Agency) American Embassy Unit Number APO AA 34024
Full Name USAID/Office Symbol Unit Number 3323 APO AA 34024
Full Name USMILGP Unit Number 3301 APO AA 34024
Full Name USDAO, American Embassy Unit Number 3310 APO AA 34024
All agencies have been issued Unit numbers that must be included
in the address; check with your agency for its assigned Unit number.
APO mail is received daily by air from the U.S.; mail goes out by
air to the U.S. five times weekly. Letter mail and packages sent
through APO at surface postage rates go by Air Space-Available Mail
(SAM). Packages sent through the APO may not exceed 108 inches in
length and girth combined and 70 pounds in weight. Parcel Air Lift
(PAL) packages may not exceed 60 inches in length and girth combined
and 30 pounds in weight. All packages and letter packages must bear
a proper customs label. Content restrictions are the same as for
regular U.S. mail; i.e., flammable materials, intoxicating liquors,
firearms, ammunition, poisonous matter, sharp knives or tools,
explosives, and perishable foods are prohibited.
Because of access to APO service, personnel are not authorized
use of Department of State pouch facilities for personal mail or
packages, except to receive reasonable quantities of prescription
medicines and to send and receive prescription eyeglasses,
orthopedic supplies, or other medical items. Maximum weight for
pouch mail is two pounds.
Radio and TV Last Updated: 6/8/2004 1:06 PM
Guatemala City has more than 75 Spanish-language radio stations.
Twenty-five AM and 50 FM stations feature U.S.-style music, mostly
of the pop hit parade variety, with some classical and jazz music
programs also available. News broadcasts can be heard three times
daily on about 10 stations. Shortwave reception of VOA is good
during the early morning or late evening hours (transmission is 6
a.m.–6 p.m.). BBC programs (in English or Spanish) are also heard.
Six TV channels, two government-owned, broadcast a daily menu of
mixed programs, including Spanish-dubbed U.S. series shows, feature
films, Mexican soaps (telenovelas), and music revues. Two channels
provide regular news programs in Spanish four times daily, at 12
p.m., 1 p.m., 6 p.m., and 10 p.m., and one channel offers an early
morning news broadcast from 6 a.m. to 8 a.m. More than two dozen
cable TV operators serve Guatemala City and offer a full range of
U.S. programming in English. Many U.S. cable channels are available
Newspapers, Magazines, and Technical Journals Last Updated:
6/8/2004 1:07 PM
Five morning and two afternoon papers are published daily in
Spanish, including one official gazette. The two largest circulating
dailies are Prensa Libre and Siglo XXI, both with ample
international wire service news coverage. A weekly news magazine,
Cronica, covers Guatemalan economic, political, and cultural news.
English-language air express editions of the Miami Herald, the New
York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and USA Today circulate at
major hotels. Latin American editions of Newsweek and Time appear
promptly, and many popular English-language magazines and books are
available throughout the city, although costs are double the U.S.
price. Subscription magazines may be received via APO. Three
locally-published English-language news weeklies, The Guatemala
Post, Central American Report, and This Week contain regional
political analysis. They are usually available by subscription. The
Guatemala News and Guatemala Weekly, provide additional current
event coverage for the English-speaking community.
Health and Medicine
Medical Facilities Last Updated: 6/8/2004 1:07 PM
Good, reliable medical services are available in Guatemala City.
Competent and reputable doctors, dentists, ophthalmologists, and
veterinarians are available. Most have studied or been trained in
the U.S. or Europe and speak English. Specialization is common in
most major fields and one or more physicians are available in each.
The major hospitals, clinics, and diagnostic laboratories used by
Mission personnel are adequately equipped. The local supply of
medicines, which can usually be bought without prescription, is
adequate although expensive and some may be difficult to obtain. If
you take prescription drugs, bring a supply with you and arrange to
have them sent to you as needed. If special medication is needed,
bring a supply and a copy of the prescription to post.
The Embassy’s Health Unit is open 5 days a week. Two American
registered nurses provide inoculations and clinical care to Mission
Community Health Last Updated: 6/8/2004 1:08 PM
Guatemala City is about 5,000 feet above sea level. Healthy
individuals rarely suffer ill effects from the altitude, though
precautions must necessarily be taken to guard against overexposure
to the sun’s harmful rays. Guatemala’s standards of sanitation are
fair. Sanitation facilities in houses and apartments rented by U.S.
employees are satisfactory and quite modern. Generally, health
conditions in Guatemala City are good.
Diarrhea and amebic and bacillary dysentery are not uncommon.
These illnesses, as well as paratyphoid and typhoid fever, can be
contracted from unpurified water and uncleaned vegetables. Hepatitis
A is endemic to the region, and Mission personnel have contracted
this disease in the past. Mission personnel and their families are
encouraged to be immunized against Hepatitis A. Respiratory
allergies are very common among Mission families due to high pollen
counts from flowers and plants, as well as humidity conducive to
mildew and mold. Safe drinking water remains a problem, but many
Guatemalan communities are developing adequate supply and
purification systems. Tuberculosis is the most serious contagious
endemic disease and is prevalent in a large percentage of the
indigenous population. Although sanitariums exist, control of those
infected with tuberculosis is inadequate, and the annual death rate
from the disease is high.
Malaria is prevalent in the coastal and other lowland areas of
Guatemala. Although a malaria eradication program is in operation,
the incidence of the disease has increased significantly in the past
decade. When traveling to these areas, appropriate prophylactic
medication should be taken. An effective anti-malarial medication,
Aralen, may be purchased locally.
It is important to have window screens in residences to keep out
disease-carrying mosquitoes and houseflies, and to eliminate or
minimize breeding places in the immediate vicinity. The use of
insect repellant is also recommended during times of the year when
mosquitoes are more prevalent, and when traveling to lowlands and
Preventive Measures Last Updated: 6/8/2004 1:09 PM
Guatemala City’s water supply is sporadic. During the dry season,
water pressure occasionally drops so low that there is little or no
water in homes; in rare instances, city water is turned off
completely. Processed drinking water can be delivered to the door
and may be purchased in 5-gallon bottles for Q10. Most Americans use
this or boil tap water to make it safe for drinking.
Although several dairies deliver pasteurized milk to homes, for
consistency in quality and freshness, powdered or long-life shelf
milk is recommended. Locally purchased fresh fruits and vegetables
should not be eaten raw, unless they can be peeled. Cooking is the
only sure way to disinfect fresh fruits and vegetables. Another
effective method is to immerse them in actively boiling water for 1
minute. Leafy vegetables treated in this manner will show only
slight wilting on the outermost leaves, and the palatability of
other sturdier vegetables and fruits will not be affected. The
Health Unit provides iodine tablets that are used for soaking fresh
produce. A liquid disinfectant, sold in most supermarkets, works
well. Clorox bleach solution can be used also, but affects the taste
of the vegetables.
Employment for Spouses and Dependents Last Updated: 11/28/2005
The Embassy's Community Liaison Office (CLO) Coordinator advises
family members interested in working and represents their interests
on the Post Employment Committee. Occasionally clerical,
administrative, and other professional level jobs become available
within the Mission. Some of these positions require U.S. citizenship
and the ability to obtain an appropriate security clearance in a
reasonable period of time. Spouses interested in working inside the
mission should watch the internet web site for job opportunities and
hand-carry employment records to post. Spanish language ability and
computer experience are helpful in seeking employment both inside or
outside the Mission.
Employment opportunities for spouses and eligible family members
outside the mission are limited due to high local unemployment
levels, Spanish language requirements, the lack of a bilateral work
agreement and payscales that are significantly below those in the
U.S. The Department of State is currently negotiating with the
government of Guatemala for a bilateral work agreement, one that
would allow outside employment for Guatemalan family members in
Washington and for American family members in Guatemala. Some
spouses have been able to obtain jobs at the international schools
or have worked on a contract basis with USAID, non-governmental
organizations or other international donors.
The US mission in Guatemala is part of the regional Strategic
Networking Assistance Program (SNAP), which currently operates out
of El Salvador and covers the Embassies in San Salvador, Guatemala
City, Managua and Tegucigalpa. SNAP is a pilot initiative of the
State Department designed to support family members in their search
for employment in the host country economy and assist interested
spouses in finding opportunities within the local economy or
developing home-based businesses. At the current time, funding for
this program is available only through FY-2006. For more information
regarding the SNAP program, please contact Gail Emrick, Regional
Employment Advisor, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In addition, the State Department's Family Liaison Office (M/DGHR/FLO)
is piloting a new spousal employment initiative, the Global
Employment Strategy (GES), aimed at creating a network of
career-enhancing employment opportunities with U.S. corporations and
non-governmental organizations. GES works at the headquarters level
with multinational organizations to develop relationships and
identify employment leads for embassy spouses. Spouses interested in
participating in the GES should send their resumes directly to
email@example.com or to firstname.lastname@example.org.
American Embassy - Guatemala City
Post City Last Updated: 11/18/2004 2:39 PM
Mission personnel are encouraged to check with the Regional
Security Office before making any specific tourism plans -- see
security section below. In all areas of the city, visitors are safer
when traveling in groups, remaining alert and exercising other
standard security precautions.
Older buildings are Spanish style, but starkly modern structures
are rising rapidly. Residential districts are spreading beyond the
outskirts of the city. Newer homes are either modern or Spanish
colonial in design. Downtown streets are narrow and congested.
Despite one-way traffic control, parking is difficult. Several
neighborhood shopping centers away from the city center are popular
with residents, as are the modern shopping malls. Streets in the
newer residential and business sections are wider and less
The city has a number of interesting old churches. Large daily
markets, the main source of fresh fruits and vegetables, are also
centers for a variety of native textiles, blankets, and pottery. A
large block-sized relief map of Guatemala, the Archeological Museum,
the Popol Vuh Museum, the Museo Ixchel, the National Palace, and
National Theater are sightseeing attractions. The few parks are
always full, especially on Sundays and holidays. Aurora Zoo is
small, but worth seeing. Guatemala’s mild temperatures permit much
outdoor activity, and sporting opportunities are readily available.
Dining out is a pleasant pastime in the variety of new
restaurants in the city. The “Zona Viva,” in which the major hotels
are located, offers many elegant restaurants, attractive shopping
boutiques, and lively entertainment. Nightlife is active with new
bars and discotheques opening every few months.
The cost of living for American employees in Guatemala City is
equal to or slightly higher than Washington, D.C. The American
community, comprising some 10,000 persons in the country, with the
majority living in the capital, is one of the largest expat
Security Last Updated: 2/28/2005 3:13 PM
The Department of state rates Guatemala's crime threat as
critical. Violent criminal activity has been a problem in all parts
of Guatemala for years, including a high number of murders, rapes
and armed assaults. Well-armed gangs that sometimes use massive
force and emboldened armed robbers have attacked vehicles on main
roads in broad daylight. Travel on rural roads increases the risk of
a criminal roadblock or ambush. Travelers must be alert for
car-jacking, road robbery and street robbery. Traveling in groups
and with multiple vehicles during daylight hours, carrying few
valuables and using well-traveled routes are advisable. If
confronted by criminals, resistance may provoke a more violent
response. Police response is slow, and their capabilities are
Roadblocks and demonstrations frequently appear in Guatemala with
little or no notice. Most demonstrations have been peaceful, but
some have turned violent. Avoid agitated crowds. Petty crimes are
common, particularly within cities and tourist sites. Buses are
often the scene of thefts, intimidation and robberies. Taxis should
be used with caution; preference should be given to hotel-based cabs
and known dispatch services. Mission policy is that any overland
travel, except within the Guatemala City metro area or day travel to
Antigua, must be coordinated with the RSO in advance.
Prospective travelers should consult the Guatemala Consular
Information Sheet at the State Department web site, http://travel.state.gov.
In October 2004, the State Department issued a public
announcement citing increased risk of violent crime on Guatemalan
highways. The annoucement is posted on the Department's consular web
site at the following address:
All American personnel planning to remain in Guatemala for 30
days or longer must first receive personal security training, either
through the State Department's Foreign Service Institute (FSI) or
through an equivalent training program offered by the parent U.S.
government agency. Employees who received the training more than
five years prior to arrival must take FSI's one-day refresher course
before traveling to post.
The Post and Its Administration Last Updated: 11/18/2004 2:45 PM
The Ambassador serves as the authority on foreign policy and such
policy direction to all representatives of U.S. Government agencies
in the country. As Chief of Mission, the Ambassador coordinates the
activities and programs conducted in Guatemala under U.S. Government
auspices. The Ambassador is assisted by the Deputy Chief of Mission
(DCM), who has the diplomatic title of Minister Counselor.
The Embassy’s State Department contingent is divided into
Political, Economic, Consular, Public Affairs, Administrative,
Security, and Narcotics Affairs Sections. A U.S. Marine detachment
of five, plus a detachment commander, provides 24-hour security. The
Chancery is located at Avenida la Reforma 7-01, Zone 10, telephone
The Mission office hours are 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through
Thursday and 7:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Friday. A Marine Security Guard
is on duty at all times in the Chancery, and a Duty Officer is on
call during nonbusiness hours.
New staff members arriving by air will be met by a member of
their respective section or agency if advance notice has been
received. Staff should arrange in advance to be met if at all
possible. The embassy recommends against taking the taxis available
at the airport unless it has been prearranged through a reputable
company. La Aurora Airport is a 10-minute drive to the Chancery and
the major hotels.
The Chancery, occupied in August 1974, is a three-story structure
built to withstand Guatemala’s periodic earth tremors (it survived
the 1976 earthquake). Located on a main thoroughfare, it
accommodates many elements of the Mission, including the Consular
Section, Public Affairs, Defense, Agricultural, and Commercial
Attaché Offices, Drug Enforcement Administration, Department of
Justice, Health Unit, and APO facility.
The Agricultural Affairs Office (FAS) is staffed by a U.S.
Department of Agriculture officer, who has reporting, advisory, food
aid, and market promotion responsibilities for Guatemala, Honduras,
Belize, and El Salvador.
The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is the chief drug law
enforcement agency stationed at the Embassy. The DEA is tasked to
provide liaison and training to their Guatemalan counterparts, and
to fully assist in the investigation of drug traffickers.
The Narcotics Affairs Section (NAS) is responsible for the
administration of State Department/International Narcotics and Law
Enforcement Affairs (INL) programs. NAS works with a variety of
primarily governmental entities within Guatemala to promote
counternarcotics, criminal justice, and judicial efforts. In doing
so, it coordinates and works in conjunction with DEA, USAID, USMILGP,
and PAO on a myriad of projects related to counternarcotics and
organized crime. NAS counternarcotics assistance is geared toward
five primary objectives: deterring narcotics trafficking through
Guatemala to the United States; discouraging cultivators from
renewing opium poppy production through eradication; developing an
effective civilian law enforcement agency; improving judicial
handling of narcotics cases; and increasing public awareness of the
dangers of drug production, trafficking and abuse. In addition, NAS
supports INL initiatives involving illegal arms trafficking, illegal
migration, and transborder crime. NAS offices are located at 1
Avenida 7-59, Zone 10, telephone 361–1427/361–1437.
The Foreign Commercial Service (FCS) represents U.S. business in
Guatemala by providing counseling, market research and advocacy
support. FCS also actively works with Guatemalan buyers to identify
and introduce them to U.S. suppliers. FCS has a Regional Senior
Commercial Officer, resident in Guatemala City, with responsibility
for Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador. There are FCS staff in
Guatemala and Honduras and there is a partnership post arrangement
with El Salvador. Particular attention is paid to regional programs
including International Buyer Delegations and market research.
The Department of Homeland Security-Immigration (DHS) adjudicates
I-130 petitions for American citizens living in Guatemala who marry
Guatemalan citizens and decide to return to the U.S. It also
processes over 1,500 adoption cases a year and assists resident
aliens who have lost their immigration documents to return to the
United States. The office also adjudicates I-601 waivers for persons
applying for reentry into the U.S. The DHS office trains host
government immigration service personnel in various immigration
techniques, to include detection of fraudulent documents and law
The Public Affairs Office of the State Department handles
information and cultural programs. The public affairs officer (PAO)
is the principal public affairs adviser to the Ambassador. The
office seeks to foster understanding of U.S. culture, history, and
policies through programs such as book and pamphlet distribution;
cultural and technical exhibits; presentation of American speakers,
artists, and entertainers; film loans; and distribution of
information to the press, radio, and TV. The IGA offers language and
secretarial training, a library, bookstore, and 400-seat auditorium.
Cultural and educational exchange programs are also the
responsibility of the Public Affairs Office, formally known as the
U.S. Information Service.
The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) implements
America’s foreign economic and humanitarian assistance programs.
USAID works in six main areas crucial to achieving both sustainable
development and advancing U.S. foreign policy objectives: 1)
economic growth and agricultural development; 2) population, health
and nutrition; 3) environment; 4) democracy and governance; 5)
education and training; and 6) humanitarian assistance.
In support of the Peace Accords, USAID/Guatemala is focusing on
four broad categories adopted by the Government of Guatemala and
other donors. These are: 1) national reconciliation; 2) education
reforms; 3) land title reforms; and 4) modernizing and strengthening
the legal system.
In 1998, Hurricane Mitch caused human and property damage on a
scale never before experienced in the recorded history of the
Western Hemisphere, causing vast economic and social damage, and
diverting resources away from the implementation of the Peace
Accords and development priorities. It is estimated that 1999
exports dropped $365 million, which translates into the loss of jobs
for 35,000 people. USAID/Guatemala plays a key role in Mitch
rehabilitation and reconstruction efforts along with other donors
and U.S. agencies. In 1999, USAID/Guatemala began a project to help
recover agricultural productivity, improve disease control and
community sanitation, and support national and community level
Another USAID/Guatemala program is the reduction of severe
poverty, particularly in indigenous communities. Objectives of this
program are: 1) to increase incomes of the rural poor through access
to credit, training and markets; 2) to improve quality and access to
intercultural bilingual education; and 3) to improve the health of
indigenous persons and women.
USAID’s regional Central American Program is managed out of
Guatemala. Providing $15 million in annual assistance, the program
supports four key objectives; 1) promotion of free trade; 2)
expansion of Central American natural resources management and
conservation; 3) advancement of regional HIV/AIDS services and
information; and 4) assistance to Central America to prepare for
future weather-related disasters.
USAID/Guatemala is located in the Plaza Uno Building on 1a Calle
7-66, Zone 9. The telephone number is 011–502–332–0202, and the fax
is 011–502–331–1151. The Mission Director and two Deputy Directors
(one for the Guatemala program and another for the Central America
Program) oversee the offices of Democratic Initiatives, Health and
Education, Income and Natural Resources, Trade and Economic
Analysis, Central American Regional Environ-mental Program, Rural
Housing and Urban Development, and the support offices of Program
Development and Management, Regional Legal Adviser, Financial
Management, Regional Contracting, and the Executive Office.
The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) maintains
cooperative animal and plant health programs with each agricultural
ministry of Central America to prevent the introduction of exotic
animal and plant diseases into Central America, a natural corridor
to the U.S. Two of their more visible programs are the screwworm
eradication program and the medfly program. Through its fruit and
vegetable preclearance and export certification programs, APHIS
encourages industry to take the responsibility for working closely
with their local governments to build plant health infrastructures,
train inspectors, and pass regulations in harmony with those of
their major trading partners. APHIS Regional Medfly Offices are
located at 4 Ave., 12-62, Zone 10, telephone 332–2037, 331–2036,
332–2153, 331–2156, 332–6459. Their Methods Development Science and
Technology Laboratory is also located at the same facility.
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), through the
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, supports tropical
disease research and training at the Medical Entomology Research and
Training Unit — Guatemala (MERTU/G), which are located at
Universidad del Valle de Guatemala City. MERTU/G conducts basic and
applied research on important tropical diseases in the region (e.g.,
malaria, onchocerciasis, leishmaniasis, geohelminths, and chagas),
provides technical assistance to the ministries of health for
Mexico, Central American countries, and Panama, and offers both
academic and applied technical training courses on topics related to
tropical diseases. The MERTU/G is located at 19 Ave., 11-65, Zone
15, telephone 369–0791–5, 364–0336–40, ext. 313–315.
Peace Corps/Guatemala, (P-C/G) began its program in 1963,
providing skilled manpower and technical assistance in a variety of
public and private sector development activities. Since then, more
than 3,700 PCVs have served, providing assistance almost exclusively
to rural communities in the largest Peace Corps program in the
Each Peace Corps volunteer works directly with a public or
private host institution on a specific project for 24 months. PC/G
devotes its efforts to four major development sectors: agriculture
(46% of PCVs) focuses on the small farm family, carrying out
integrated projects involving animals, improved grain production and
storage, diversified fruit/vegetable production coupled with
marketing; environment (19% of PCVs) is directed at the conservation
of natural resources, agroforestry/reforestation, soil conservation,
and water; health (15% of PCVs) addresses problems of malnutrition,
debilitation diarrhea, and sanitation; and small business/municipal
development (20% of PCVs) focuses on cooperatives and small
enterprises to increase rural income and employment and technical
assistance to municipalities.
Activities are tied to defined needs as identified by PC/G in
close coordination with different Guatemalan host institutions. The
PC/G Office, located at 8 Calle, 6055, Zone 9, telephone 334–8263–9,
is staffed by 2 direct-hire Americans, 8 direct-hire Guatemalans, 17
Guatemalan contractors, and 2 American contractor nurses/medical
officers. Currently, some 200 PCVs work throughout most of the
The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) is a Department
of Defense combat support agency and a member of the National
Foreign Intelligence Board. NGA provides assistance to foreign
governments in the development of their national mapping programs in
return for geospatial data acquisition and collection. The mission
of the Central America and Caribbean Regional Office in Guatemala is
to coordinate, implement and manage NGA’s portions for the
Department of Defense (DOD) global geospatial information and
services (GGIS) requirements, specifically, nine major coproduction
mapping programs in its area of responsibility. The NGA Regional
Office is located in the Instituto Geografico National (2nd. Floor),
Avenida Las Américas, 5-76, Zona 13, telephone 332–1102/332-2770;
fax: 362–7985; e-mail: email@example.com.
The U.S Military Group (USMILGP) represents the Commander in
Chief, U.S. Southern Command, and the Department of Defense. Its
primary function is to support U.S. goals and objectives on defense
issues through U.S. military engagement with the Guatemalan Armed
Forces. The Commander of the USMILGP is also the U.S. Defense
Representative in country for administrative, force protection, and
security matters for all DOD personnel. The group consists of the
Army and Air Force Sections, which comprise an Operations Officer,
NCO, and administrative support staff. Each section is responsible
for working with their respective service counterparts with a number
of additional responsibilities, such as training, humanitarian
assistance, counterdrug, and associated Traditional CINC Activities
(TCA) programs. In addition to the permanent staff of the USMILGP, a
Tactical Analysis Team (TAT), and a Joint Planning Assistance Team (JPAT)
element is assigned to the organization. These teams assist in the
planning and coordination of all counterdrug related activities with
the Embassy and host nation.
Additionally, the USMILGP provides support to the Embassy through
the Army Post Office (APO), for mail service. The offices are
adjacent to the Chancery at Avenida La Reforma, 7-45, Zona 10,
telephone 331–1542, ext 4212/3/4.
The U.S. Defense Attaché Office (DAO) is an element of the
worldwide Defense Attaché System. The Director, Defense Intelligence
Agency, is responsible for the overall management of the Defense
Attaché System. The DAO's mission is to diplomatically represent the
Secretary of Defense, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and
Services Chiefs of the Armed Forces; serve as the Ambassador’s
military adviser; serve as a member of the Country Team; and report
on in-country and regional political-military activities. The DAO,
Guatemala City is an eight-person station consisting of: a
Defense/Army Attaché; a Naval/Marine Corps Attaché; an Assistant
Army Attaché; an Operations Coordinator; a Non-Commissioned Officer
Operations Coordinator; and one part-time U.S. secretary. All
military personnel are diplomatically accredited to the host
country. The DAO, Guatemala City, is not assigned duties for
security assistance issues in Guatemala.
Temporary Quarters Last Updated: 6/8/2004 1:37 PM
Arriving personnel assigned to any of the Mission’s agencies may
be temporarily housed in one of the five government-leased,
-furnished transient apartments. Preference is given to employees of
agencies that have subscribed to this ICASS service. Pets are
permitted in the transient apartments at an additional cost of $45 a
month to cover fumigation. If an apartment is not available,
reservations will be made at a nearby hotel. The hotels most used by
the Mission in Guatemala City are the Camino Real, Marriott,
Intercontinental, Princess Reforma, Casa Serena, and Clarion Suites,
all located within ten minutes of the Chancery. Rates at these
hotels are within the temporary lodging allowance. A small, less
expensive hotel, La Casa Grande, is located one block from the
Chancery. All of these hotels offer restaurant dining and have a
number of recommended restaurants within walking distance.
Comfortable apartment/hotels are also available, some allowing pets.
The transient apartments are comfortable accommodations located
in a residential area five blocks from the Chancery. Each apartment
has two baths, three bedrooms (plus maid quarters, including
bathroom), and a fireplace. They are equipped with all furnishings,
linens, towels, kitchenware, a TV, and a telephone. While
reservation preference is given on the basis of family size, an
employee without family may be given the option of moving to a hotel
so that an employee with family can be accommodated. Only a firm
arrival date, flight, and/or time received in writing, by cable,
e-mail, or letter, will be used in making assignments on a
first-come-first-served basis. If an apartment is not available upon
arrival, employees will be placed on a waiting list.
Permanent Housing Last Updated: 11/12/2004 2:27 PM
The only U.S. Government-owned residences are the Ambassador’s
and the DCM’s. The Ambassador’s residence, located about 7 minutes
by car from the Chancery, is a two-story stucco house in modern
Spanish colonial style with a landscaped garden in front and
spacious grounds behind. The house includes a large entrance
reception hall, powder rooms, living rooms, library, family dining
room, and a sunroom opening into a large enclosed terrace. The
kitchen, pantry, laundry rooms, storage rooms, and servants’
quarters complete the first floor. The second floor has four
bedrooms (one with a fireplace), a study with fireplace and three
baths. At the rear of the garden is a heated swimming pool, a cabana
with dressing rooms, and a lighted tennis court, which is available
for use by American personnel.
The DCM’s home is located in the mountainside neighborhood of San
Rafael just above the Vista Hermosa area of Zone 15, about 15
minutes by car from the Chancery. The first floor has entertaining
areas with additional patio/balcony space off the living and dining
rooms. The first floor also has kitchen and pantry areas and a
library/guest room with a full bath. The living quarters on the
lower level consists of four bedrooms, a large family room, a
separate sitting room, and three baths, with patios and access to
the large backyard.
The Marine Security Guard detachment and the detachment commander
are provided government-leased quarters. Government-leased housing
is also provided to the USAID director. Some government-leased
houses are provided to the heads of other agencies represented at
post. All other Mission personnel locate and lease their own housing
under the Living Quarters Allowances (LQA) program. Most employees
are able to locate suitable quarters within 1–3 months of arrival.
Airgram A-171, dated June 5, 1991, contains the standards that
govern the size of quarters that an employee may lease. The U.S.
Mission housing policy follows those standards. For security
reasons, American officers are restricted to four specified
residential zones. Employees may lease single-family homes,
apartments, or townhouses in these areas. Although apartments are
considered more secure, it remains the employee's individual choice
what kind of housing to lease and occupy. Major appliances
(refrigerator, freezer, stove, washer, and dryer) are provided to
all employees whose agencies have subscribed to this ICASS service.
Rental contracts are required by all lessors and normally run for
1 year with renewal rights. Sample contracts are available from the
General Services Office (GSO). Employees are advised to incorporate
the “diplomatic clause” (30-day transfer notice) in their leases:
this clause is accepted by most lessors. Contract fees and real
estate agent’s commissions are generally absorbed by the lessor;
however, any question should be settled before signing the contract.
Housing must be measured by the GSO, and surveyed and approved by
the RSO before a lease can be signed.
Furnishings Last Updated: 6/8/2004 1:40 PM
All Mission personnel, unless otherwise advised by their agency,
should bring all their household furniture and furnishings, since
the choice of unfurnished quarters is far greater than that of fully
or partially furnished quarters and rental cost is significantly
less. Loaner furniture is available for use pending the arrival of
Light fixtures are provided in most houses, as are curtain rods.
If not installed, you should discuss the installation with the
lessor when negotiating the lease and defer curtain purchases until
a home has been found, as window shapes and sizes vary. Many
attractive materials are available locally or can be ordered from
Locally manufactured furniture is satisfactory. Tropical
hardwoods are available, but are usually unseasoned and may warp.
Occasional pieces such as end tables, chairs, or record cabinets are
sold, with craftsmanship fair to excellent. Secondhand furniture
suited to American tastes is primarily available from departing
personnel. Many persons enjoy purchasing antique furniture and
collectibles that are available on the street and in shops. Local
climate has little adverse effect on furniture or furnishings,
except for leather items that mildew during the rainy season. Good
reupholstery service and custom carpentry are available at
Guatemalan stores carry a good line of U.S.-manufactured
housewares, but import duties make prices considerably higher than
in the U.S. Bring rugs, china, silverware, glassware, bed and table
linens, kitchen utensils and cutlery, an iron, and other small
appliances. Locally made blankets and wool rugs of good quality and
interesting design are available at reasonable prices.
USAID/Guatemala provides residential furniture and equipment for
all direct-hire and PASA employees. A drapery allowance of $1,400 is
also authorized. Materials for draperies can be purchased locally.
The following items are normally provided:
Living Room: 1 sofa, 1 loveseat, 2 armchairs, 1 occasional chair,
1 corner table, 1 coffee table, 2 side tables, 2 bookcases, 1 hall
table with mirror, 3 lamps, and a rug.
Dining Room: dining table with 8 chairs, china cabinet, buffet,
and a rug.
Master Bedroom: 1 queen-size bed, 2 night tables, 1 dresser, 1
mirror, 1 chest of drawers, 1 bedroom chair, 2 lamps, and a rug.
Children’s Bedrooms: 2 twin-size beds, 1 night table, 1 dresser,
1 mirror, 1 desk with a chair, a bookcase, 2 lamps, and a rug.
Guest Room: 2 twin-size beds, 1 night table, 1 dresser, 1 mirror,
1 lamp, and a rug.
Family Room: 1 sofa or loveseat, 2 armchairs, 1 occasional chair,
1 coffee table, 2 side tables, 1 desk with chair, 2 bookcases, 2
lamps, and a rug.
Appliances: refrigerator, freezer, electric stove, washer, dryer,
vacuum cleaner, heater, and a dehumidifier.
Other items include: 1 porch set (table and 4 chairs), 1
kitchenette set (table and 4 chairs) or a card table set, 1 ironing
board and cover, 1 clothes hamper, 1 fire extinguisher, 1 ladder, 1
trashcan, 1 rake, 1 spade, 1 sprinkler, 1 hose, 1 lawnmower, 1
emergency lamp, and 1 gas stove with cylinder. When needed, cribs
with mattresses and baby changing tables are also provided.
USAID personnel should bring personal items such as bedspreads,
pillows, bed and table linens, glassware, china, silverware, small
appliances, iron, tools, stereo, and TV equipment, home computers,
A Hospitality Kit is provided for employees until their personal
effects arrive. It includes bed linens, blankets, pillows,
bedspreads, towels, an iron, cooking and eating utensils, and some
cleaning equipment. Residential furnishings are not provided for
servants’ quarters. Simple, inexpensive furniture may be purchased
Utilities and Equipment Last Updated: 3/2/2005 5:06 PM
Hardware stores, including U.S. chains, sell the tools and
equipment necessary to hang curtains and pictures and to make minor
repairs and alterations. Prices of these items, however, are higher
than in the U.S.
Families, other than State, DAO, FAS, APHIS, and USAID may find
it practical to bring a freezer unit. Electricity in Guatemala is
110v, 60-cycle, AC, same as in the United States. If required, 220v
service for heavy-duty appliances can be wired into homes. Many
homes do not have grounded electrical circuits (with three-prong
outlets), so incoming employees should ship a supply of plug
Surge protectors are strongly recommended for any electronic
items (computers, stereos, microwaves, TVs, VCRs), as thunderstorms
are a frequent occurence in the rainy season. Incoming internet
cables should also be protected by surge protectors -- several
newcomers have lost new home computers to power surges that came in
over the internet lines, versus the power lines. Mission personnel
are also urged to purchase rechargeable camping lanterns and
flashlights for use during power outages.
Water heaters are already installed in most dwellings, but
tenants should insist that the lessor provide an auxiliary water
tank and pump because of periodic water supply and pressure problems
during the dry season. Air-conditioners are not needed. Since
central heating is nonexistent, fireplaces and portable electric
heaters are often used during chilly evenings and the prolonged
Surface shipment of effects from the U.S. takes 8–14 days. An
additional 1–2 months are required for transportation within
Guatemala and customs clearance. Employees sometimes locate
permanent housing before the arrival of their HHE. The Embassy has a
small amount of furniture to help employees through the period
between occupying a house and arrival of HHE. Once your shipment has
been delivered to your residence, all loaned furniture and
furnishings must be returned to the Embassy. Include in
unaccompanied airfreight a minimum supply of towels, bed linens,
blankets, and basic cooking and eating utensils. Airfreight usually
takes 10–15 days from the U.S., depending on the shipment origin and
time of year.
Food Last Updated: 6/8/2004 1:43 PM
Dairy products, meat, and fresh vegetables are adequate and
preclude the need to import food. Local supermarkets carry many U.S.
products and a variety of European products as well. Bulk retailer,
PriceSmart has recently opened and many Mission families are
members. Fresh meat is always available on the local market, but
cuts are somewhat different from those in the U.S., and in most
cases are not aged. Good quality fresh fruits and vegetables
available throughout the year include oranges, bananas, melons,
pineapples, mangoes, papayas, and other tropical fruits, string
beans, peas, carrots, corn, beets, several types of squash, black
beans, turnips, potatoes, cucumbers, celery, cabbage, cauliflower,
broccoli, spinach, lettuce, tomatoes, and some tropical vegetables
unknown in U.S. markets. Care must be taken to disinfect, peel, or
cook all fruits or vegetables before consumption. Good bakeries are
Many businesses offer regular delivery service. Fresh bottled
juices, sodas, fruits and vegetables, dairy and bakery products, and
even canned goods can be delivered directly to your door.
Prescription medicines can also be ordered for home delivery. Even
fastfood can be delivered to your home, fast!
The American Embassy Association (AEA) runs a small commissary,
gasoline pump, and a parking lot. There is a staff of three
Guatemalans and a nine-member Board of Directors. Membership in AEA
is limited to those Americans with duty-free privileges. Membership
is $25 for singles and $30 per family and entitles the individual(s)
to shop in the commissary and place special orders for caselots of
The commissary is located in the basement of the Chancery. The
shop carries liquor, some dairy/refrigerated items, snack foods,
hard-to-find American products, and Embassy souvenirs. Prices are
higher than in the U.S. because of transportation costs. Since most
American products are available on the local market, the commissary
concentrates on providing snacks, souvenirs, and those American
items that cannot be found elsewhere. Special orders are placed
about every 6 weeks and merchandise is either shipped (dry goods) or
flown (dairy/refrigerated) to Guatemala from Miami, Florida.
The AEA runs a “vendor” program in which local vendors are
invited to come and sell their goods across the hall from the
commissary every 2 weeks for 1 day only. These vendors sell locally
made clothing, tablecloths, table runners, placemats, suitcases,
purses, fanny packs, ceramics, manmade paper, wooden apples, etc.
The AEA also operates a parking lot, referred to as the “Bamboo
Lot,” that is located on the back street behind the Chancery and has
25 spaces, most of which are rented monthly by government agencies
such as INS, DAO, FCS, etc., and a few spaces are rented by private
individuals. Security is provided around the clock by the local
Embassy guard force.
Clothing Last Updated: 6/8/2004 1:44 PM
Guatemalan society is quite fashion conscious and stays current
with international style trends. The secret to comfortable dressing
in this varied climate is to wear layers of clothing that can be
added or removed during the day as the temperature changes.
Because the climate is moderate to warm, spring/summer clothing
is best for year-round wear. Men find lightweight, synthetic fiber
or light wool suits comfortable; women wear synthetic, cottons, and
silks, and an occasional sweater for most daytime activities. Light,
summer clothing is useful for trips to the tropical coastal and
jungle areas or to neighboring countries, but heavier clothing is
comfortable in the mountain regions. Children use sweaters and
jackets at school and warm pajamas from November through February.
Bring a year’s supply of clothing and an adequate supply of shoes.
American-made clothing, some Italian and American-made shoes, and
Italian, German, and French sweaters can be bought locally, but
supplies and sizes are limited and prices are high. Catalogs are
available for loan from CLO for telephone or Internet orders.
Clothing ordered from the U.S. arrives within 1–3 weeks by APO.
Local tailors and seamstresses do fair work at reasonable prices.
Attractive imported silk, cotton, wool, and synthetic fabrics are
available locally, though prices are relatively high. Locally woven
cottons are popular for both casual and dressy wear and can be
bought by the yard in a variety of patterns.
Men Last Updated: 6/8/2004 1:45 PM
Men generally wear the same type of clothing throughout the year.
For everyday office use, synthetic fiber or lightweight woolen suits
in medium or dark tones are ideal. Lightweight sport jackets,
sweaters, and slacks are useful. Informal sports clothes are
appropriate for off hours. Tweeds are fine from December to
Hat, overcoats, and topcoats are seldom worn, but a lightweight
raincoat is useful and an umbrella is essential.
All officers should have a dinner jacket (black tuxedo) and at
least one dark suit. Midnight blue, oxford grays, blues, or browns
are appropriate for semiformal functions.
Only senior diplomatic officers may rarely have occasion to wear
a black or oxford gray morning coat and striped trousers. A short,
single- or double-breasted black coat and striped trousers are used
infrequently for the less formal state occasions. Currently, a male
wears morning coat and striped trousers when presenting his
credentials. Formal clothing can be rented locally.
Military officers should have at least one service dress uniform,
in addition to the normal complement of duty uniforms. Appropriate
civilian clothing is worn for travel and daily office use.
Certain brands of American-made shoes can be purchased locally at
prices considerably higher than similar brands in the U.S. Although
some find locally made shoes acceptable, bring an adequate supply to
post. Although clothing accessories, such as socks, ties,
handkerchiefs, cuff links, shirts, and underwear are available
locally, prices again are inflated. Cotton underwear and pajamas are
comfortable year round; flannel is comfortable only from November
Women Last Updated: 6/8/2004 1:46 PM
Cottons, polyesters, or other synthetic knits, and lightweight
woolens are appropriate for the mild Guatemala City climate. For
visits to the coastal areas and neighboring tropical countries,
lightweight clothing is desirable; the country’s cool mountain areas
call for warmer wear.
Blouses and skirts, casual dresses, and slacks are recommended. A
wide variety of native fabrics is available for casual clothing.
Tailored dresses, blouses, skirts are suitable office and daytime
wear. Bring at least one tailored black or other dark-colored dress.
Cocktail dresses are most useful for eveningwear. Although many are
available locally, they are generally expensive. Dresses with
sleeves are more comfortable, as evenings can be cool.
Cocktail or formal dinner dresses are required for the infrequent
formal dinner parties. Bring at least one long formal evening dress;
senior officers need more formal eveningwear for formal state and
diplomatic functions. Sweaters are useful during the cooler season
and most mornings. Woolen stoles (available locally) or jackets are
sufficient for evening. Heavy wool coats are rarely worn and are
best placed in storage before coming to Guatemala, where the
dampness and moths are harmful. A lightweight coat and/or raincoat
is useful, and an umbrella is a necessity. Hats are rarely worn and
gloves are a matter of preference.
Shorts are acceptable only for tennis or in swimming areas.
Slacks and swimsuits are useful, and many are available locally.
Since camping, hiking, and climbing are popular diversions, bring
sturdy shoes or boots and a weatherproof jacket.
Bring a full supply and selection of shoes. Although some
American-made and European shoes are sold locally, they are
considerably more expensive than in the U.S. and styles and sizes
are limited. Locally made shoes are plentiful and reasonably priced,
but will not suit everyone’s needs or style preferences. Shoes can
also be made to order at reasonable prices.
Most lingerie is imported and expensive; bring a good supply.
Locally made stockings and panty hose are of fair quality and
Children Last Updated: 6/8/2004 1:47 PM
The same weight factors that apply to men’s and women’s clothing
also apply to children’s apparel. Girls wear cotton, dresses,
skirt-blouse-sweater combinations, and jeans or pants to school;
boys wear khaki or denim jeans, T-shirts or cotton sports shirts,
and sweaters or sweatshirts. It is often cold at the schools located
up on the hillsides, so pack a good selection of sweaters and light
jackets. Light-weight raincoats, boots and sweaters are essential.
Children wear closed or semiclosed shoes most of the year. The
dampness of the rainy season wears out shoes quickly, so bring extra
pairs. Some locally available shoes and inexpensive sneakers are
satisfactory, but the more popular sports shoes cost considerably
Supplies and Services
Supplies Last Updated: 6/8/2004 1:47 PM
Most medicinal needs can be filled at local, modern drugstores.
Quality controls in Guatemala, however, are not equal to those in
the U.S. Many name-brand cosmetics are available locally at
significantly higher prices than in the U.S. African-American hair
care products are not available and should be brought to post.
Bring hangers, shower curtains, special holiday decorative items,
and greeting cards for special occasions. Although available here,
such items are expensive. U.S. brand diapers are available at a
higher price, however, they are of a slightly lower quality. Parents
of school-aged children may wish to bring a supply of toys to be
used as gifts for the frequent birthday parties. Locally made toys
are inferior to American brands. Imported toys are available, but
can be expensive. Most shops (including grocery stores) offer free
gift wrapping. For items bought online, you will need to bring
wrapping paper as wrapping paper for all occasions is hard to find
in larger sizes.
Recreational equipment such as a ping-pong table or basketball
hoop, fishing gear, and sporting goods equipment are always popular.
Electronic equipment and computer software are available, but
considerably more expensive to purchase locally. Many goods can be
purchased through U.S. companies that offer mail-order service.
Basic Services Last Updated: 6/8/2004 1:48 PM
Several good commercial laundries are available, but most
personnel have maids who wash and iron. Dry cleaning facilities are
fair to good, prices are reasonable, and most offer home delivery
service. Shoe repair facilities are generally good, and prices are
reasonable. Dressmakers in the city vary in quality. Suits (for men
and women) may be tailored locally. Selection of cotton and
polyester suit and dress materials is good. Beauty and barbershops
compare favorably with smaller shops in the U.S. in price and in
Domestic Help Last Updated: 6/8/2004 1:50 PM
Most domestic employees speak only Spanish and are uneducated and
untrained. Good cooks can be hard to find. It is preferable to seek
a servant who has worked for other Americans and has references.
Laundresses, nursemaids, and general cleaning maids are available
but inexperienced; full-time, reliable, servants are becoming
increasingly scarce. Trained nannies are rare. The CLO maintains
lists of domestics seeking work.
Wages for a full-time household servant, based on ability and
experience, range from Q800–1,600 a month. Families, as well as
single personnel occupying apartments, should have domestic help to
take care of marketing, cleaning, and errands. Most importantly, it
is unwise to leave a house or an apartment unoccupied for even a
short period of time. Many single employees living in apartments
hire a part-time, all-purpose maid who sleeps out. Most houses have
servants’ quarters, but some apartments do not. Day maids receive
about Q75 per day.
It is customary to provide locally made uniforms, although some
maids prefer to wear their own clothing. A servant is expected to
attend to minor medical problems, but if major medical attention is
required, a local physician should be consulted before using the
state-operated hospital facilities. Servants are entitled to 15 paid
vacation days’ each year. Upon discharge, employees are, by law,
paid 1 months’ salary for each year of service or a pro-ration for
time worked. A Christmas bonus, equal to 1 months’ salary (the
so-called “aguinaldo”) is mandatory. A compulsory, 14th-month bonus
(“bono catorce”), equal to a full month’s salary, is also paid to an
employee on June 30, contingent upon completion of 1 year of
employment by that date. For an employee working less than 1 year on
June 30, the payment is proportional.
Most families occupying housing with even a minimal amount of
garden space employ a gardener for lawn maintenance. Gardeners,
generally employed for 1–2 days per week, earn approximately Q70–100
per day for a full day’s work.
Religious Activities Last Updated: 6/8/2004 1:51 PM
Roman Catholicism is the principal religion, although a large and
growing percentage of the population has converted to Protestantism.
Catholic churches are located in residential areas throughout the
city, and masses are celebrated in Spanish. Protestant worship in
English is offered by the Union Church, an interdenominational
church that offers contemporary (at 8:15 a.m.) and traditional
worship (at 11:00 a.m.). Sunday school classes are held for children
and adults, and there are midweek bible studies and meeting
opportunities for men, women, youth, and preteens. Nursery care is
provided at all services and events. Union Church traces its origins
back to 1882 when English services began. The congregation worships
in a beautiful neocolonial renaissance sanctuary near the Plaza
España in Zone 9, 6 blocks from the Embassy. An Episcopal parish
also offers English services and Sunday school. German and Spanish
services are offered by the Mormon Church. The Seventh-day
Adventists and a Christian Science group offer services in Spanish.
Three Jewish congregations (Sephardic, Orthodox, and Reform) hold
At Post Last Updated: 1/19/2005 4:48 PM Many private elementary
and secondary schools operate here, and the private educational
system in Guatemala City is considered good. The Guatemalan school
term begins in mid-January and ends the latter part of October.
Schools attended by US government dependents normally follow a
US-style schedule, with classes beginning in mid-August and ending
in early June. Most schools require a birth certificate, health
records, vaccination records, and previous school transcripts. Some
require pre-admission placement tests. Most U.S. Government
dependent children attend the Mayan School (Colegio Maya), the
Equity American School, or the American School (Colegio Americano).
All three are private schools, so enrollment is not necessarily
assured -- parents must apply well in advance and plan to undergo
admissions interviews or other screening procedures after their
arrival at post. Plan to arrive several business days before the
beginning of the school year so that all admissions requirements can
be met before the first day of school.
The Colegio Maya offers American-style instruction for nursery
(age 3) through grade 12 and operates on the U.S. school calendar
(mid-August to early June). It is a cooperative school sponsored by
parents, administered by an elected board of directors, and fully
accredited under the U.S. Southern Association of Colleges and
Schools (SACS). The director and most teaching staff are U.S.
citizens with U.S. teaching certificates. The enrollment in
2002–2003 was 355, with 40% of the students American citizens and
the rest of mixed nationalities. Courses are taught in English with
one class per day in Spanish. The curriculum focuses on academic
preparation for college entrance and offers a range of enrichment
and advanced placement courses. Athletic activities include
basketball, volleyball, baseball, soccer, and other team sports. A
gymnasium and tennis courts were recently completed, and a fine arts
center is under construction. Playground equipment is available for
smaller children. The school provides bus transportation.
The American School (Colegio Americano) offers kindergarten
through secondary school instruction. Despite its name, it is mostly
attended by Guatemalan students, with American administrators and
some American teachers (about 18%). Enrollment in 2002–2003 was
1,460, of which about 12% were American citizens. Classes are
conducted in both English and Spanish, and students may elect to be
taught in either language. The quality of instruction at all grade
levels is considered adequate by U.S. standards, and the secondary
school is accredited by SACS. Athletic activities include baseball,
softball, soccer, volleyball, basketball, water polo, and swimming.
An active intramural and playground recreational program is offered.
Bus transportation to and from school is provided.
The Equity American School (EAS) is a small privately-owned
school located in a residential neighborhood. The EAS offers very
small classes (maximum 12 students per class) for preschool through
grade 12, and encourages motivated children to move at an
accelerated pace. Classes are taught in English, with one class per
day in Spanish or French. Its elementary school is located in a
separate facility, and both campuses are converted residences. Total
enrollment for 2002–2003 was about 132, with about 38% American
citizens. The school has an American director and mostly American
faculty, and runs on the U.S. school calendar.
Colegio Maya is the current reference school for allowance
purposes -- education allowances are tied to the fees charged by
this school. The allowances normally cover most (if not all) costs
for other private schools. Additional information on these and other
schools may be obtained through the school web pages as follows:
Colegio Maya www.colegiomaya.edu.gt; Colegio Americano
www.cag.edu.gt; and Equity American www.equity.edu.gt.
Away From Post Last Updated: 6/8/2004 1:54 PM Most families find
the local primary and secondary schools adequate; however, some have
chosen to send their children to boarding schools in the U.S.,
absorbing the additional expense themselves. The Mission’s CLO has
useful information that can be of assistance in choosing education
alternatives away from post.
Higher Education Opportunities Last Updated: 6/8/2004 1:54 PM
Spanish classes are provided by the Embassy, using FSI methods,
textbooks, and course materials. Instruction is provided by
Guatemalan tutors. Low-cost courses are also offered at IGA. Four
universities in Guatemala offer Spanish courses, as do a number of
private language schools. Intensive weekly courses in Spanish are
offered in Antigua, about a 40-minute drive from the city. Most of
the language schools offer programs with one-on-one instruction, in
addition to classroom and home-stay options.
Recreation and Social Life
Sports Last Updated: 7/23/2003 5:08 PM
Frequent national and international soccer matches dominate
spectator events, but less standard sports such as bicycle and car
races are available. Baseball and softball are increasing in
popularity and are played year round. Joggers and competitive
runners are seen often in the city, and several organizations
sponsor races throughout the year.
Although the city has only two commercial facilities, bowling is
quite popular. Several city leagues are available, and frequent
national and Central American tournaments are held. U.S. Mission
members have formed basketball, soccer, and softball teams that play
each other, other embassies, and Guatemalan teams. The Marines have
a volleyball court on the grounds of their residence and arrange
games among Mission personnel. Mission members can sometimes join
local basketball, volleyball, and soccer teams, which play in
organized Guatemalan leagues. Private clubs sponsor tennis
tournaments in competition with other clubs, and the Embassy has
organized tournaments among Mission personnel and other embassies.
Private clubs include Club Americano, which has two lighted
tennis courts, one squash court, swimming and diving pools,
playgrounds, and snackbar. Inscription fees are $1,500, plus Q575
per month; Club Von Humboldt (German Club) has a swimming pool, six
tennis courts, and a football field. Annual fees are $520 with a
refundable deposit of Q8,000 and Q610 monthly dues. The Camino Real
and Marriott Hotels offer club memberships for full or partial use
of their facilities, which include heated swimming pools, tennis
courts, exercise and equipment rooms, and saunas. Classes in
aerobics, swimming, and tennis are also offered. There are many less
costly specialized clubs around town for weightlifting, aerobics,
swimming, tennis, squash, dance, gymnastics, soccer, and volleyball.
Golf is an expensive hobby to maintain in Guatemala. Although there
are two private golf clubs, both offering scenic courses, swimming
pools, tennis courts, and clubhouse facilities, membership in 2003
is $2,000, with a several hundred-dollar refundable deposit.
Surf and deep-sea fishing may be enjoyed on either coast where
tarpon, barracuda, shark, sailfish, red snapper, bonito, blue
marlin, and tuna are common. Puerto Ixtapa, on the Guatemala's south
coast, has one of the most famous catch-and-release sailfish
fisheries in the world. Lakes and rivers provide freshwater fishing.
Sailing and windsurfing are available on lakes and at the Atlantic
coast. Whitewater river rafting expeditions from Class I to IV, day
trips, and extended weekend trips, are possible from Guatemala City
through a local tour agency. Open-water scuba diving courses and
excursions are offered through PADI certified instructors.
Near Guatemala City, the volcanoes Pacaya (8,345 ft.), Fuego
(12,851 ft.), and Agua (12,307 ft.) attract climbers and provide
rewarding views on clear days. Pacaya, which is active much of the
year, provides the unique opportunity for climbers to stand on one
peak and view close at hand volcanic activity. Organized climbing
and hiking parties have been suspended at times because of the
increased occurrence of violent criminal activity on the volcanoes.
The Embassy's Security Office should be consulted prior to climbing
or hiking around the volcanoes.
Wild game is generally scarce. Hunting is prohibited in most of
Guatemala, and hunters should obtain permission to hunt on private
Touring and Outdoor Activities Last Updated: 1/20/2005 8:55 AM
Guatemala is a physically beautiful, culturally rich country.
Mayan ruins, dramatic mountain ranges, and picturesque indigenous
villages offer great attractions to the tourist or casual visitor.
Travelers should routinely notify the Regional Security Office (RSO)
before leaving Guatemala City. When traveling to any of these
destinations, mission members should travel in groups, stay on the
main roads, avoid driving after dark and take other security
precautions recommended by the RSO -- see transportation section
Antigua, “"Ciudad de Santiago de los Caballeros de Guatemala,” is
less than an hour by car from Guatemala City over a four-lane
highway. It is a picturesque city of ruins and old, restored homes.
The capital was moved to Guatemala City in 1773 when an earthquake
damaged Antigua. The city has good, attractive hotels and
restaurants well suited to the tourist market. Shopping in Antigua
is delightful and leisurely. During “Semana Santa,” the week
preceding Easter, townspeople and tourists flock to the streets to
view the colorful carpets, intricately created from sawdust and
flowers, that pave the way for the processions carrying religious
images from the churches.
Lake Amatitlan, 25 minutes from Guatemala City over a fair road,
is about 40 square miles in size. Public picnic grounds are
available, and a scenic cable lift to the United Nations Park is
operable. Sailing and boating are popular; the lake is badly
polluted, however, and swimming is no longer safe. Native skin
divers have found well-preserved relics of Mayan religious
ceremonies that took place at the natural hot springs that empty
into the lake. Many Guatemalans own second homes in the lake area.
Lake Atitlan is 2½ hours from Guatemala City by car over a good
but winding road. Atitlan is considered the most beautiful lake in
the country. It can be visited as part of the “must” excursion to
Chichicastenango. Three large volcanoes are nearby. Encircling the
shores of the lake, 5,500 feet above sea level, are 12 indigenous
villages named after the Twelve Apostles. These villages can be
reached by launch from the hotel area; however, strong winds and
choppy water across the lake in the afternoons, as well as security
concerns, limit access. Several good tourist hotels with panoramic
views are located on the lakeshore in the town of Panajachel.
Swimming and boating are pleasant pastimes.
The town of Chichicastenango is the center of the Quich‚ Mayan
culture and a principal sightseeing attraction. It is 7,000 feet
above sea level and about 3 hours from Guatemala City. The road to
Chichicastenango is good, but steep in some places. Two first-class
hotels and several good, inexpensive pensions are available. On
market days, Thursdays and Sundays, the town is crowded with Mayans
dressed in their colorful clothing. On Sundays, they practice their
traditional religious rites in the two Catholic churches on the main
For birdwatchers and naturalists, the Biotopo of the Quetzal is a
2,900-acre sanctuary founded to protect the Resplendent Quetzal,
national symbol of Guatemala, and its cloud forest habitat. Located
approximately 2½ hours from Guatemala City, the park has well-kept
trails for hiking and campsites. Comfortable hotel lodging is
nearby. While the forest is beautiful, finding a quetzal is a
Approximately 4½ hours by car from Guatemala City, Lake Izabal is
the largest body of freshwater in the country and is a popular
weekend getaway for fishing, boating, water skiing and all other
types of water sports. The Rio Dulce, offers comfortable hotels
along its shores and islands. Tourist attractions along the river’s
lush jungle shores include bird watching and photography; Aguas
Calientes hot springs, a beautiful hot waterfall flowing into a cool
jungle pool; the Castle of San Felipe, a national historical
monument built by the Spaniards in the 17th century to protect their
possessions from frequent pirate attack; and Livingston, a seaside
town situated where the Rio Dulce empties into the Caribbean.
Puerto Quetzal, a commercial port on the Pacific Coast, is 2
hours from Guatemala City over a four-lane paved road. The nearby
beaches of Chulamar, Likin, and lztapa offer limited surfing and
swimming because of a strong undertow and occasional sharks. The
beaches are black volcanic sand, which is extremely hot when the sun
is shining. Hotels at Chulamar and Likin have filtered fresh and
saltwater pools. Boating and fishing are possible on the canal and
river that empty into the Pacific near lztapa. Deepsea fishing
excursions can be arranged.
Quetzaltenango, the second largest city in the country, can be
reached in about 4½ hours by the highland route over the Pan
American Highway, which is paved all the way and generally good. The
city, at about 7,600 feet, has a cool, invigorating climate and
clear air. On the first Sunday of each month, the central square
offers a festive market of goods from surrounding villages. The
city, a textile center, is also noted for its nearby hot sulfur
baths and mineral springs.
Several restored sites of Mayan settlements lie within a day’s
drive of Guatemala City. Iximche, the ancient capital of the
Maya-Cakchiquel kingdom, and where the first capital of the Kingdom
of Guatemala was founded, and Mixco Viejo, a fortress city of the
Maya-Cakchiquel empire, are located within the Department of
Chimaltenango, approximately 2 hours’ drive from Guatemala City.
Quirigua, within an hour’s drive of Rio Dulce a short distance from
Puerto Barrios, is the site of some of the tallest stelae of the
Maya civilization. K’umarcaaj, an archeological site also known as
Utatlan, is approximately an hour’s drive from Chichicastenango (3
hours from Guatemala City). It was the capital of the Quiche Kingdom
and has a visitor’s center and small museum.
Tikal, the largest and one of the oldest of the ancient Mayan
cities, is located in the midst of a dense tropical rain forest in
the Department of Peten in the northeastern section of Guatemala.
There are several daily flights and occasional special tourist or
charter flights to these magnificent ruins within short flying time
of Guatemala City. Overnight accommodations with meals are available
at either of two adequate, but non-luxury, hotels near the ruins, or
more comfortable lodgings with lakeside recreation facilities
located farther from the park.
During their various patron saint festivals, indigenous
communities throughout the country offer unique opportunities to
experience the flavor of the Guatemalan heartland and its hospitable
people. These fiestas, which usually begin a few days before the
actual saint’s day, are characterized by dances, processions, and a
profusion of decorations, as well as firecrackers, native marimba or
other instrumental music, and often a lively market. Information
about fiesta days and descriptions of the more interesting festivals
can be found in New World Guide to Latin American Republics, Volume
1, Central America and Mexico, Duel Soal and Piece, 1950.
Although there are very few restrictions on taking photos apart
from common sense, special care must be taken around children.
Foreigners have been killed by paying too much attention to babies
in small towns. Only photograph children with the clear approval of
the parents and/or other adults present.
For those who want to become acquainted with Guatemala, the
country, and its customs, the Trekkers Club offers frequent weekend
group trips at minimum cost. The club is international in
membership. Annual fees are Q50. Meetings feature speakers, movies,
and/or slide presentations on such subjects as Maya archeology, folk
customs, myths and legends, or simple travelogues on places of
interest. Members share the responsibilities of organizing and
leading excursions, as well as serving on the board of directors.
Entertainment Last Updated: 6/14/2004 11:05 AM
Recent U.S. films are shown at a number of movie theaters in
Guatemala City, usually with Spanish subtitles. Mexican, Italian,
French, and Argentine films are also offered, though less
frequently. Admission to the best movie theaters is Q10-25. The IGA,
and occasionally local art galleries, screen films of a less current
vintage. Children’s films, both in theaters and on tape, are usually
dubbed in Spanish. A good assortment of videotapes and DVDs are
available from local video clubs at reasonable rates.
Guatemala City boasts a 2,000-seat National Theater that hosts
plays, dance performances, and concerts. In recent years,
world-class cultural attractions such as the Moscow Ballet, National
Ballet of Spain, and Berlin Philharmonic have included Guatemala in
their itinerary. The National Symphony Orchestra and the National
Ballet each have a wide repertoire that is expanding each year.
Several small city theater groups perform everything from musical
comedy to serious drama. Guest artists and performers, often
traveling under U.S. Government sponsorship, are well received and
add further dimension to the performing arts in Guatemala.
Guatemala’s art world is quite lively, especially painting and
sculpting. The IGA has at least a monthly exhibit and frequent
exhibits are held in the National Bank Building, the Museo lxchel
and other smaller museums, and numerous city galleries. The National
Palace is decorated with vivid murals depicting the area’s
precolonial and Hispanic history. Several newer government buildings
are decorated with facades of attractive modern sculpture.
One of the best sources of reading material is the IGA library,
which has a collection of over 12,000 volumes in English and Spanish
and a bookstore offering current material. The Union Church also
maintains a library. Books are also available in commercial
bookstores at import prices. Located on the lower level of the
Chancery near the cafeteria is a lending library of paperback books
open during Embassy operating hours. CLO also has a very good
resource library, both print and videocassette, on topics specific
to Guatemala and to today’s lifestyles and concerns in general.
Restaurant dining is a pleasant pastime in Guatemala City,
particularly in one of the many restaurants in the “Zona Viva,” an
area close to hotels that is the leading center of entertainment. In
addition to the dining rooms of the major hotels, many good
restaurants offer specialties ranging from typical Guatemalan dishes
to French cuisine and Middle Eastern food, and are generally
moderate in price. Several popular restaurants specialize in
“Argentine-style” and, more recently, “Southwestern U.S.-style”
beef. The American food chains, such as McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Burger
King, Domino’s, Taco Bell, TGI Fridays, Chili’s, etc., as well as
Pollo Campero (Guatemala’s version of Kentucky Fried Chicken) and
other local fastfood restaurants, successfully compete for the
Among Americans Last Updated: 6/14/2004 11:12 AM The American
Society is an organization of U.S. citizens living in Guatemala.
Membership includes official personnel, members of the business
community, and others. The society endeavors to improve
Guatemalan-American relations at the local level and performs
important welfare functions. The group also sponsors several social
events each year.
In recent years, the Colegio Maya has staged an annual musical
production for their students, parents, and faculty and has invited
the participation of other members of the American community. An
English-speaking amateur theater group in Antigua also performs
throughout the year.
International Contacts Last Updated: 6/14/2004 11:13 AM Guatemala
is a very friendly country, and Americans establish lasting
friendships with Guatemalans. Many speak excellent English, having
been educated in the U.S., and many others study English at IGA and
other institutions. Newcomers have ample opportunity for social
contacts, both private and official. Social contacts between the
American community and other foreign groups can also be interesting
and rewarding. Guatemala City has an active Rotary Club and Lion’s
Club, and an English-speaking Masonic Lodge.
Although the primary aims of the American Chamber of Commerce of
Guatemala are business and investment oriented, the group has a
large and active membership of firms and individuals who maintain a
high community visibility. Their frequent luncheon meetings are open
to the public, and their programs and service activities promote
excellent, broad based relationships. Membership fees are
Nature of Functions Last Updated: 6/14/2004 11:13 AM
Diplomatic staff members receive occasional invitations to
official and private receptions and cocktail parties. Dances are
infrequent, with the exception of those at private clubs on special
Diplomatic officers should bring a minimum of 200 calling cards,
their spouses 100, for exchange with other diplomatic corps members
and for use in making calls. Fold-over cards (informals) are used
for extending invitations to large nonofficial functions.
Invitations to small dinners, luncheons, and cocktail parties are
usually verbal. Invitations to receptions and official dinners are
by formal cards, which may be printed locally.
Standards of Social Conduct Last Updated: 6/14/2004 11:16 AM
All U.S. Government employees and their family members are, of
course, expected to observe appropriate standards of behavior and
courteous conduct in their official and personal lives. They should
conduct themselves in accordance with the American values of justice
and democracy, obey local laws and regulations, avoid any action
that could be interpreted as taking advantage of any special status
they enjoy, and assist in maintaining and strengthening the good
relations that now exist between the U.S. and Guatemala. Mission
personnel should remember that they are guests in a foreign country
and official U.S. representatives.
Protocol requirements vary in the different Mission agencies and
between offices in the same agencies. Junior officers and staff
employees have far fewer protocol requirements than heads of
sections. Courtesy calls on the Ambassador and DCM should be
scheduled by all employees shortly after arrival. Newcomers’
receptions are held to acquaint families with the Ambassador and
spouse at their residence.
Importance is attached to certain special occasions such as
baptisms, first communions, Quince Años (15th birthday for girls),
weddings, and funerals. Except for funerals, these occasions are
usually celebrated by a family party. An invitation extended to
anyone outside the family should be considered a compliment. A gift
and/or flowers are customarily sent by anyone invited to such
events. Birthdays may be celebrated on the actual date or,
occasionally, on the Saint’s Day. Children will receive many
invitations to birthday parties. The “piñata” is an established
custom, and children invited are expected to bring an inexpensive
gift. As funerals are arranged on short notice, because of local
laws that require burial within 24 hours of death, it is not always
possible to attend. Attendance is expected when possible. A call at
the house of the deceased and flowers sent to the home or the
funeral parlor are appreciated by the family.
In Guatemala, social events often begin later than the time
indicated on the invitation. Formal receptions normally begin on
time, but guests sometimes arrive at dinner parties half an hour to
an hour after the appointed time. When invited to the Embassy
residence, however, Mission members are expected to be punctual and
to arrive 10–15 minutes early to assist the Ambassador in receiving
the other guests.
It is customary to shake hands when greeting or taking leave of
an individual or group. When entering a room, both men and women are
expected to greet every guest, shaking hands with each one when the
group is small. Except for the most formal occasions, Guatemalan men
usually kiss one (and only one) cheek of women they meet, even
Guatemalan businessmen prefer dark suits and women prefer
somewhat formal dresses or suits during the working day. The same
attire is customary for most evening social affairs; more casual
clothes are worn to weekend and daytime social events. (See also
Special Information Last Updated: 6/14/2004 11:20 AM
The Government of Guatemala requires that all adults residing in
the country, including official personnel of foreign diplomatic
missions, carry official identification at all times. The
appropriate “carnets” or “tarjetas” will be requested for new
arrivals by the Mission personnel offices. The Mission also issues
ID cards to its official personnel and all dependents over age 14.
Photographs can be taken at Post.
Discussion of post conditions would be incomplete without
discussion of the current crime conditions. Guatemala has a serious
crime problem. Violent crime has grown in the past few years
throughout the country. The incidence of armed assaults and
carjackings continue to pose a threat to Mission personnel, and
heightens the need for security awareness. The primary security
threat in Guatemala is general street crime – both violent and
petty. Special care of passports, identification papers, and credit
cards is essential. Clever pickpockets and muggers haunt the market
areas and are also busy among crowds at holiday festivities,
parades, and sports events. One should avoid carrying wallets and
large hanging purses, and it is not recommended to be out on the
street alone after dark anywhere in the city. Daytime travel in some
areas is also unwise. Children and servants should be alerted to
security procedures at home and in the street. Security briefings
are given by the RSO to all newly arrived employees and their
families, and periodic briefings and updates are held throughout the
Conditions in Guatemala necessitate travelers being aware of the
current security situation in outlying areas. Key political events
and an increase in criminal activity raise the need for security
precautions. Large demonstrations occur throughout Guatemala, where
they can cause serious traffic disruptions. While most
demonstrations are peaceful, violence is increasing, and travelers
should avoid areas where demonstrations are taking place. New
arrivals should pay strict attention to the instructions contained
in briefing materials or provided orally and consult the Regional
Security Officer if in doubt.
The Mission adheres to a strict housing policy requiring RSO
inspection and approval of all prospective housing. Employees are
not permitted to move into housing until all security upgrades are
complete and it has been certified for occupancy. Most prospective
housing will require grills, reinforced doors (both exterior and
safe haven) and the installation of lock hardware, door viewers, and
razor wire on the top of exterior perimeter walls. The employee must
negotiate most necessary upgrades with the landlord, with the
landlord absorbing the cost.
Notes For Travelers
Getting to the Post Last Updated: 10/19/2004 11:43 AM
Most personnel assigned to Guatemala arrive by air, although a
few have driven their own vehicles from the U.S. It is essential
that anyone contemplating driving to Guatemala from the U.S. call
the RSO for a security update and briefing on travel conditions.
Overland travelers should also review the Consular Information Sheet
(CIS) for both Mexico and Guatemala, located at the State Department
web site www.travel.state.gov. In addition to the possible criminal
threat en route, drivers are cautioned that during the rainy months
(May–October) the roads in Guatemala can be treacherous because of
washouts, landslides, and earth tremors that create temporary
impasses. An alternative is to drive to Miami, arrange for shipment
of the car via the US Despatch Agent and fly to post.
Incoming personnel should inform the post well in advance of
their arrival so that adequate temporary housing arrangements can be
made. Department of State employees should arrange through HR/CDA to
send a formal arrival notice telegram
All unaccompanied air baggage (UAB) and household effects (HHE)
of Mission personnel, other than USAID, should be consigned to the
Embassy followed by the name of the owner in parentheses, as
Avenida la Reforma, 7-01, Zone 10
Guatemala City, Guatemala
(name of employee)
Airfreight and HHE shipments of USAID personnel assigned to
Guatemala should be marked as follows:
USAID/Guatemala, c/o Executive Office
1a. Calle 7-66, Zone 9
Guatemala City, Guatemala
UAB should be banded. Surface shipment boxes, lift vans, and
packing cases should be waterproofed and sufficiently strong to
withstand rough handling. If effects are likely to arrive in
Guatemala during the rainy season, request tin roofing and soldering
of seams of cases and vans for additional protection.
Standard-size lift vans can be accommodated at either of two
Guatemalan ports — Puerto Santo Tomas de Castilla on the Caribbean
coast or Puerto Quetzal on the Pacific coast — from where they are
trucked to post. The Embassy recommends the use of Santo Tomas de
Castilla, a recently constructed port with modern facilities and
warehousing. If shipments must come via Puerto Quetzal, it is
preferable to use small liftvans since large cargo must be unloaded
offshore onto lighters. When shipping an automobile, easily
removable items, such as cigarette lighters, mirrors, floor mats,
radio antenna, and hubcaps, should be packed and shipped separately
to prevent pilferage.
Frequent cargo service is available from Miami to Puerto Santo
Tomas de Castilla. Normally, all shipments are routed through the
Miami Despatch Agent. Ships bound for Puerto Quetzal leave San
Francisco about every 25 days. Service is even less frequent from
the South. Once shipments have arrived at the port, lengthy and
complicated customs procedures can delay final delivery for 4 - 6
weeks. HHE documentation must include a complete packing list.
Vehicle documentation must include an original bill of sale or title
HHE and UAB that arrive in advance of their owners will be stored
in a commercial warehouse, as the Mission has no storage facilities.
Personnel should attempt to coordinate the arrival of their HHE and
UAB shipments to coincide with their own arrival at post, since the
clearance process cannot begin until the employee's arrival.
Insurance of personal effects while in transit and while at post is
strongly recommended. A transit policy should cover theft and water
Most housing in Guatemala is privately leased, with costs
reimbursed under the Living Quarters Allowance (LQA) program.
Individuals subject to the LQA program are allowed the full HHE
shipment of 18,000 pounds. Some agencies provide
government-furnished quarters for their personnel; they are
authorized only the limited shipment allowance (7,200 lbs.).
Employees should check carefully with their transportation,
personnel, or executive offices to determine their exact
shipping/storage allowances. The employee, not the packing company,
is responsible for ensuring that the authorized net weight of
effects shipped and/or stored does not exceed the authorized weight
Customs, Duties, and Passage
Customs and Duties Last Updated: 10/19/2004 11:09 AM
American personnel of all U.S. Government agencies assigned to
Guatemala for a standard tour of duty are entitled to duty-free
importation of household and personal effects, including one
automobile. Personnel without diplomatic status have this
importation privilege at “first arrival” only, interpreted by
Guatemalan officials to mean within 6 months of an employee’s
arrival in the country.
Each accredited employee, both diplomatic and non-diplomatic, may
import one duty-free vehicle. Motorcycles and mopeds are classified
as vehicles for duty-free importation purposes. Any additional duty
and registration fees connected with the importation of additional
vehicles are chargeable to the employee. All personnel importing a
vehicle (including a motorcycle) must present an original bill of
sale or title certificate and an original bill of lading in order to
obtain license plates. Employees driving to Guatemala must also
carry proof of ownership of the vehicle. Officials at the border
will issue a 30-day entry permit, which must promptly be presented
to the General Services Office upon arrival. Personnel importing
boats, airplanes, campers, trailers, or other special purpose
vehicles must pay full duties and have written authorization from
the administrative officer.
Passage Last Updated: 10/19/2004 11:09 AM
Entry visas are not needed for U.S. Government personnel entering
Guatemala. Employees and family members may enter the country upon
presentation of valid U.S. passports, one per person. After arrival,
all passports should be presented to the Human Resources Office, who
will request a multiple-entry visa for the duration of the
employee's tour of duty. The visa application should be submitted to
the Foreign Ministry within 30 days of arrival.
Pets Last Updated: 11/28/2005 5:05 PM
U.S. airlines have instituted restrictions on carrying pets
during the summer months. Regardless of the time of year, travelers
should check and re-check with the airlines to be sure they will be
allowed to board with their pets. This is especially important
during the summer embargo months.
All incoming pets must have a proof of rabies inoculation and a
health certificate issued by a veterinarian within 15 days of
travel. The health certificate should be prepared by a licensed
veterinarian and if possible, certified by the Department of
Agriculture or equivalent agency in the country of origin. This
process can take several days, so the certificate should be issued
no later than one week prior to departure.
There are no quarantine requirements for dogs or cats in
Guatemala. It is preferential to bring your pet with you on the same
flight, as customs formalities are easier to complete when pets are
If unable to travel on the same flight, you may ship your pet as
air cargo using a licensed pet shipping company. In this instance,
send a fax at least 5 days in advance of the pet's arrival to the
Embassy’s Customs and Shipping Section explaining your plan for
shipping your pet to Post. Include in your fax a copy of the Airway
Bill (AWB), Health Certificate and Pet Owner’s Passport. The fax
number is (502) 331–3186 or (502)333–0052. These documents are
required in order to prepare the customs clearance in advance of the
pet’s arrival. Without advance clearance, there is a possibility
that it could take 2–3 days to get an unaccompanied pet out of the
local customs office.
Pets are permitted in the temporary apartments for an additional
fee of $45 per month. Some local hotels and apartment hotels will
allow small pets. Pets can be boarded at reputable kennels for a
daily fee of about $15.
Firearms and Ammunition Last Updated: 6/14/2004 11:26 AM
It is the intent of the Ambassador to strictly control the number
of weapons imported into Guatemala by Mission employees as well as
to limit the number of persons receiving Ambassadorial approval to
possess and/or to carry a weapon. Importation of firearms is
restricted by Guatemalan law to the following types of nonautomatic
Types of Arms Caliber Pistols 22,25,32,38,380 Revolvers 22, 32,
357, 38 Rifles 22,32,222 Shotguns All gauges
Firearms may be imported with HHE, not as part of unaccompanied
baggage shipments. Inform shipping companies so that these items may
be listed in the shipping documents. Employees must obtain COM
authority to import a firearm prior to arrival at post. This can be
done by contacting the RSO office directly at 502–331–3243 or FAX
502–334–8472. For detailed information on the post firearms policy,
consult the RSO before importing a weapon.
Importation by individuals of ammunition or cartridges of any
type and caliber is strictly forbidden; ammunition is imported only
through facilities of the Government of Guatemala. Ammunition for
the firearms listed above is available locally from commercial
sources at prices 30% to 70% higher than in the U.S. Shipment of
firearms and ammunition by diplomatic pouch or APO/FPO facilities is
strictly forbidden. Importation or carrying of the following items
is prohibited: daggers, blackjacks, brass knuckles, swords,
pocketknives with blades exceeding three inches in length, and
Currency, Banking, and Weights and Measures Last Updated:
6/8/2004 12:45 AM
The Guatemalan unit of currency is the Quetzal (Q). The Quetzal
is printed in paper form in denominations of Q5, QIO, Q20, Q50, and
QIOO. Coins are made in denominations of Q1 and 1, 5, 10, 25 and 50
centavos. In July 2003, the exchange rate was about 8 Quetzals to
one U.S. Dollar.
Various systems of weights and measures are used in Guatemala.
Pounds and kilograms (2.2 pounds) are the most common weight units,
but more exotic units, such as the “quintal” (100 pounds), are also
used. Gasoline is sold by the liter (slightly more than a quart).
Common units of distance include centimeter, inch, foot, yard,
“vara,” meter, kilometer, mile, and “legua.”
Taxes, Exchange, and Sale of Property Last Updated: 6/14/2004
All personal property, including vehicles imported duty free into
Guatemala by U.S. personnel and commissary articles, must be for the
personal use or consumption of employees and their dependents and
may not be imported with the intent to transfer or sell.
On arrival at post, request a copy of the regulations pertaining
to importation and disposal of personal property applicable to and
binding on all U.S. Government personnel, including USAlD
contractors. Disposal of property other than automobiles will
normally be approved only in connection with an employee’s permanent
departure from Guatemala.
U.S. Mission employees assigned to Guatemala are authorized to
import one vehicle duty-free. A vehicle may not be sold partially or
fully exempt from duty earlier than two years from the issue date of
the exemption document, which is usually several weeks later than
the date the vehicle entered the country. An exception to this
two-year rule may be made in the event a vehicle is destroyed and is
being sold for scrap, or upon permanent departure of the employee
Arrive at post with an adequate supply of currency and personal
or travelers checks to cover the usual heavy initial expenses.
Employees are paid bi-weekly; salary and prorated allowances are
included. Most civilian agency personnel are paid from the
Department’s finance center at Charleston, S.C. under a centralized
payroll system. Most employees find it convenient to have their
salary deposited directly to a U.S. bank. Many use the allotment
system for regular direct payments to designated payees. A dollar
checking account with a U.S. bank is recommended to facilitate
financial transactions, particularly those involving firms and
individuals outside of Guatemala. Dollars, travelers checks, and
personal dollar checks may be cashed for Quetzals at Mission
facilities, where U.S. dollars can also be obtained.
Local banking facilities are good. Citibank and the Banco Uno
have branches in the Chancery. Many employees find it convenient to
maintain a local Quetzal checking account.
Major credit cards are recognized and accepted at hotels, most of
the better restaurants, gas stations, and many local business
establishments. Cards most commonly honored are American Express,
Visa, Diner’s Club, Mastercard, and Carte Blanche. Gasoline credit
cards, however, are not accepted.
Recommended Reading Last Updated: 6/14/2004 11:30 AM
These titles are provided as a general indication of the material
published in this country. The Department of State does not endorse
Adams, Richard N. Crucifixion by Power.
Aguirre, Lilly. The Land of Eternal Spring.
Aguirre, Lilly. Guatemala, My Beautiful Country.
Area Handbook for Guatemala. American University. U.S. Government
Printing Office: Washington, D.C., 1984.
Arevalo, Juan Jose. The Shark and the Sardines.
Asturias, Miguel. El Señor Presidente.
Bricker, Victoria Reifler. The Indian Christ, The Indian King.
Brigham,William. Guatemala, Land of the Quetzal.
Burgos-Debray, Elizabeth. I, Rigoberta Menchu.
Carmack, Robert. Harvest of Violence: The Mayan Indians and the
Coe, Michael P. The Maya.
Daniels, Anthony. Sweet Waist of America: Journeys Around
Department of State (1954). Intervention of International
Communism in Guatemala.
Dodge, David. How Lost Was My Weekend.
Dosal, Paul J. The Rise of Guatemala's Industrial Oligarchy,
Gleijeses, Piero. Shattered Hope.
Goldman, Francisco. The Long Night of the White Chickens.
Handy, Jim. Gift of the Devil: A History of Guatemala.
Henderson, John S. The World of the Ancient Maya.
Huxley, Aldous. Beyond the Mexican Bay.
Immerman, Richard H. The CIA in Guatemala.
Kidder and Samayoa. The Art of the Ancient Maya.
Latin America: Hemispheric Partner. U.S. Department of the Army,
Lorange, Mary. Footloose Scientist in Mayan America.
Manger-Cats, Sebald Godfried. Land Tenure and Economic
Development in Guatemala.
Moreley, Sylvanus. The Ancient Maya.
Nash, Manning. Machine Age Maya.
Osborne, Lily de John. Indian Crafts of Guatemala and El
Perera, Victor. Unfinished Conquest.
Poponoe, Dorothy. Santiago de los Caballeros de Guatemala.
Rodman, Selden. The Road to Panama.
Schele, Linda and Freidel, David. A Forest of Kings: The Untold
Story of the Ancient Maya.
Schirmer, Jennifer. The Guatemlan Military Project; A Violence
Schneider, Ronald M. Communism in Guatemala: 1944–1954.
Sexton, James. Ignacio: The Diary of a Maya Indian of Guatemala.
Simon, Jean-Marie. Guatemala, Eternal Spring, Eternal Tyranny.
Stephens, John L. Incidents of Travel in Central America.
Stoll, David. Between Two Armies in the Ixil Towns of Guatemala.
Stoll, David. Rigoberta Menchu and the Story of All Poor
Tedlock, Dennis. Translation of the Popul Vuh.
Thompson, John E. The Civilization of the Mayas.
Thompson, J. Eric S. Thomas Gage’s Travels in the New World.
Vargas Llosa, Alvaro. Riding the Tiger.
Von Hagen,Victor M. Mayan Explorers.
Warren, Kay B. Indigenous Movements and Their Critics: Pan-Maya
Activism in Guatemala.
Whetten, Nathan L. Guatemala: The Land and the People.
Woodward, Ralph Lee, Jr. Central America: A Nation Divided.
Wright, Ronald. Time Among the Maya: Travels in Belize, Guatemala
Local Holidays Last Updated: 11/3/2004 10:46 AM
U.S. Mission offices in Guatemala observe both American and
Guatemalan legal holidays by closing to the public. Following are
the Guatemalan holidays:
New Year’s Day Jan. 1
Holy Thursday variable Good Friday variable
Labor Day May 1
Army Day June 30
Feast of the Assumption Aug. 15
Independence Day Sept. 15
Revolution Day Oct. 20 All Saints’ Day Nov. 1
Christmas Eve (Half Day) Dec. 24 Christmas Day Dec. 25 New Year’s
Eve (Half Day) Dec. 31
Personnel should avoid arriving at post on a holiday because of
the unpredictability of transportation and other services.