Report   DETAILS


Guatemala 2018 Crime & Safety Report

Western Hemisphere > Guatemala

 

According to the current U.S. Department of State Travel Advisory at the date of this report’s publication, Guatemala has been assessed as Level 3: reconsider travel.

Overall Crime and Safety Situation

U.S. Embassy Guatemala City does not assume responsibility for the professional ability or integrity of the persons or firms appearing in this report. The American Citizens’ Services unit (ACS) cannot recommend a particular individual or location, and assumes no responsibility for the quality of service provided.

The U.S. Department of State has assessed Guatemala City as being a CRITICAL-threat location for crime directed at or affecting official U.S. government interests.

Please review OSAC’s Guatemala-specific page for original OSAC reporting, consular messages, and contact information, some of which may be available only to private-sector representatives with an OSAC password.

Crime Threats

Guatemala suffers from a severe impunity problem exacerbating the wide range of crime. Public institutions are unable to target large-scale criminal enterprises or curb petty crime. The issue of impunity, coupled with the availability of firearms, allows for an environment primed for crime. American citizens fall victim to incidents from pick-pocketing to violent assaults anywhere. No area is immune to crime.

Theft and armed robbery are the most common problems encountered by American citizens. The Guatemalan National Police (PNC) received over 12,000 reports of property crime, including approximately 1,200 reports of “theft and assault,” in 2017. Although these numbers are elevated in comparison to other countries in Central America, they are lower than for 2016.

While Americans and tourists are not specifically targeted, they can be easily victimized due to a perceived display of affluence or presenting an easy target. Longer-term residents and dual nationals are more likely to become victims of serious crimes, as they tend to be integrated into local society and may not reside in the safest areas. Tourists seem to be largely shielded from the worst of the violence, instead succumbing principally to pickpockets and purse snatchers. U.S. tourists, however, have not immune to rape, physical assault, and murder.

A common trend in the commission of armed robberies is the use of motorcycles by assailants. Typically, two men on a motorcycle accost the driver of a car or pedestrian and demand valuables and cell phones. Often, the assailants are accompanied by a second pair of individuals that act as lookouts and are also armed. If the assailants encounter any resistance, they escalate the situation through extreme violence (stabbings, shootings). Using motorcycles allows the assailants to flee quickly, and they are rarely apprehended. Additionally, pickpockets and purse snatchers are active in all cities and tourist sites. High-traffic tourist areas are targeted frequently for petty crime. Markets, national parks, crowded venues, and shopping areas are all major areas of operation for criminals. 

U.S. citizens have reported information to the Embassy about armed robberies in Antigua, mostly at night but with some occurring in daylight, targeting pedestrians on less frequented roads. The Embassy advises tourists and residents to be very vigilant of their surroundings and report any crime incidents promptly to the police.

Violent crime and homicides continue to plague Guatemala. In 2017, the PNC reported approximately 4,400 homicides, 5,200 aggravated assaults, and over 2,900 missing persons. These numbers are on a downward trend in comparison to 2016. However, Guatemala remains consistently ranked by commercial security sources as one of the top 10-25 most dangerous countries in the world. Violent crime is attributed to endemic poverty, an abundance of weapons, a legacy of societal violence, and the presence of organized criminal gangs Mara Salvatrucha (MS13) and the Mara Barrio 18 (18th Street). Guatemala’s murder rate appears driven by:

narco-trafficking activity,

gang-related violence,

a heavily-armed population, and

a police/judicial system that remains unable to hold many criminals accountable.

Well-armed criminals know there is little chance they will be caught or punished, and, in many cases, criminal gangs employee juveniles as young as 12 years old to commit targeted assassinations. While the vast majority of murders do not involve foreigners, the sheer volume means that local officials, who are often inexperienced and underpaid, are unable to cope. 

The number of violent crimes reported by U.S. citizens and other foreigners has remained high, and incidents have included assault, theft, armed robbery, carjacking, rape, kidnapping, and murder. Even the most upscale residential and commercial areas of Zones 10, 14, 15, and 16 have witnessed violent crimes in broad daylight.

Furthermore, the number of missing persons cases reported to the government has increased in recent years. While migration could account for some of that increase, it is unlikely that family and friends would undergo the cumbersome process of filing a complaint if they knew or suspected the persons had disappeared voluntarily. The U.S. Embassy is aware of the disappearances of several U.S. citizens, the cases for all of whom remain unsolved.

The two primary gangs, MS13 and 18th St., have a stranglehold on businesses and private citizens due to an increasing number of extortion rackets. The larger day-to-day security concern is the extortion rackets created by MS13, 18th Street, and a number of other amateurish gangs. Extortions are incredibly common and target all sectors of society. Bus lines, markets, and small businesses are common targets of extortions. However, these gangs have also targeted school children, street vendors, and private citizens. A few years ago, not responding to extortion threats could resolve the matter. In recent years, the number of extortions has risen dramatically. However, in 2017, there has been a spike in violence by extortionists toward non-compliant victims. Certain neighborhoods of Guatemala City are controlled by the gangs. The PNC cannot enter many of these neighborhoods as they are physically walled off and controlled by the gangs. In spite of regional initiatives to combat drug trafficking and gang activity, gangs continue to operate freely and extortions continue to be a serious concern.

Vehicle thefts continue to be a serious problem. Cargo and transportation theft is a major problem. Particularly attractive are trucks carrying shipments of electronics or gasoline. Theft of items from occupied vehicles is becoming more common.

Narco-trafficking and transnational organized crime groups and gangs pose a real, dangerous threat to local, regional, and international interests.

RSO has uses the PNC-provided crime data for this report. However, the PNC does not count homicides if the victim left the crime scene alive but subsequently died from injuries elsewhere. INACIF (Instituto Nacional de Ciencias Forenses de Guatemala), the government agency responsible for tracking all deaths in country, shows homicide rates 8-16% higher than PNC homicide rates.

Home invasions by armed groups occur in upscale neighborhoods. Thieves gain access by enticing a resident to open the door for a delivery or rushing in when family or staff open the door. Another commonly held belief is that household staff could be complicit in home invasions. There were 969 reported residential robberies in 2016 compared to 628 in 2017, a 35% reduction.

According to government crime statistics, sexual assault numbers decreased from 613 in 2015, to 571 in 2016, and 551 in 2017. In most known cases, women traveling/driving alone are more at risk, and the majority of assaults are interfamilial. The Embassy believes that the numbers of sexual assaults are far greater, but due to cultural stigmas and sporadic police presence in rural areas causes significant underreporting.

A particularly serious concern is incidents of vigilantism, including stoning, lynching, and immolation, especially in isolated rural areas. The lack of police response to serious crimes can result in villages taking justice into their own hands, resulting brutal attacks and deaths. Police in remote areas are often understaffed and ill-equipped and will not typically interfere in deterring vigilantism. Guatemala has many different and firmly-held local beliefs and customs. Particularly in small villages, residents are often wary and suspicious of outsiders and, therefore, take justice into their own hands.

In January 2012, a group of National Geographic explorers, including U.S. citizens, were detained and assaulted in Quiché department by local residents when they jumped into a pond considered sacred in the Mayan tradition. The incident served as a warning to be mindful of local traditional practices when visiting indigenous Mayan communities. 

In 2015, the PNC took approximately 30 reports of lynching per month. 

In 2016, reports indicated that 23 people were killed in lynching cases.

There was a slight increase in 2017 with 29 reported lynching deaths.  

Other Areas of Concern

Widespread narcotics and alien-smuggling activities make remote areas especially dangerous. Due to uncontrolled drug and alien smuggling, the border with Mexico (and in particular the northwestern corner of Petén and San Marcos) is a high-risk area. The border areas, including the Sierra de Lacandon and Laguna del Tigre National Parks, are among the most dangerous areas in Guatemala due to drug trafficking activity.

Attacks have occurred in the Mayan ruins in Petén, including in the Cerro Cahui Conservation Park, Yaxhá, the road to and inside Tikal Park, and in the Tikal ruins, particularly during sunrise tours. However, tourist police (DISETUR) patrols have significantly reduced the incidence of violent crime inside the park, and there have been no reports of armed assaults on tourists there in recent years. Travelers should remain in groups, stay on the principal trails leading to the Central Plaza and the Temple IV complex, and avoid remote areas of the park.

Transportation-Safety Situation

For more information, please review OSAC’s Report, “Security in Transit: Airplanes, Public Transport, and Overnights.”

Road Safety and Road Conditions

Overall Road Safety Assessment: Fair

Urban road conditions/maintenance: Fair

Rural road conditions/maintenance: Fair to poor

Availability of roadside/ambulance assistance: Fair

U.S. citizens will encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the U.S. Many city streets are illuminated, although poorly, but secondary and rural roads have little/no illumination. Passing blindly on winding and/or steep mountain roads, poorly designed surfaces, and unmarked hazards, including landslides and precarious temporary highway repairs, present risks to motorists.

Driving demands one's full attention, requiring that drivers be defensive, as traffic rules are only casually observed. Speed limits, lane markings, and stop signs are frequently ignored. Many drivers do not use their turn signals. Instead, a common custom is for an occupant to stick a hand out the window and wave it to indicate that they will be taking an unspecified action. Drivers often drive at the maximum speed their vehicle can handle. These drivers share the road with slow vehicles, some barely able to manage 20 miles per hour, creating a hazardous mix of velocities.

Further, cars and trucks are often stalled or parked in the middle of the road. Tree branches are often placed in the road 100 meters or so before the stalled vehicle to warn approaching traffic of a hazard. Drivers are supposed to use the right side of the road, and speed limits are posted depending on the condition of the road. Turning right on red is not permitted unless otherwise posted, and drivers must yield when entering a traffic circle. Seat belts must be worn. It is against the law for drivers to operate cellular phones while driving, although this is not enforced. People found driving under the influence of alcohol/drugs are arrested and may serve jail time.

Pedestrians can create complications for drivers. Due to a lack of proper sidewalks and crosswalks, pedestrians often walk on the roadway or attempt to cross roads even in heavy traffic. Guatemala City continues its explosive growth of vehicles in the city and commuting into the city during the work week. As a result, traffic congestion is widespread. Traffic congestion has two significant security-related consequences:

  • Criminals on motorcycles use traffic as a means to rob motorists. These robberies occur in all sections of the city, to include major thoroughfares patrolled by police. A May 2009 law mandates that the motorcycle license plate number must be printed on a sticker on the back of the motorcycle driver's helmet. However, criminals have adapted tactics to include two men on two or more motorcycles. In 2013, the government modified the law requiring motorcycle riders to wear orange vests and display the license plate numbers on those vests. The modified law also requires motorcycle riders to drive on the right side of the road only. However, there is little enforcement of these laws.

  • Road rage caused by heavy traffic and poor driving habits is common. Cases of road rage have resulted in violent assaults and shootings.

Minor traffic incidents can escalate quickly to violence when one or both parties are carrying firearms. All drivers involved in accidents resulting in injury may be detained and held in protective custody pending investigation. In several instances, police officers have been posted outside hospital rooms of drivers who were injured, and they were not allowed to depart the country without judicial intervention. Such cases require the assistance of private local attorneys.

Lethal collisions are common. The Observatorio de Transito de Guatemala reported 6,000 accidents, 1,500 deaths, and 7,300 injuries in 2017, which are all down approximately 25% when compared to 2016 levels, but still above 2015 levels.

Emboldened armed robbers have attacked vehicles on main roads in broad daylight. Travel on rural roads increases the risk of being stopped by a criminal roadblock or ambush. Driving outside of urban areas at night is dangerous and not recommended. Intercity travel after dark is extremely dangerous and should be avoided altogether. It is highly recommended to caravan with at least two cars when traveling outside of Guatemala City. The Inter-American Highway (CA-1) and the road from Guatemala City to the Caribbean coast (CA-9) are especially dangerous due to heavy traffic, including large trucks and trailers, and poorly maintained vehicles that oftentimes lack properly functioning lights. The main road to Lake Atitlán via the Inter-American Highway (CA-1) and Sololá is safer than the alternative secondary roads near the lake. Specifically, the main road is preferable to the alternative road through Las Trampas and Godinez to Panajachel (RN-11). Armed attacks have occurred on roads between Guatemala City and Petén and between Tikal and the Belize border. Many commercial GPSs and GPS applications work in Guatemala, but roads and routes identified on a GPS may be nothing more than a poorly built dirt road accessible only by 4x4 vehicles. GPS applications can also route drivers through gang-infested neighborhoods.

A roadside assistance force (PROVIAL) patrols most of the major highways. PROVIAL can be contacted by calling 1520 from a local phone. Their vehicles are equipped with basic tools and first aid supplies, and their services are free. Police patrol the major roadways and may assist travelers, but the patrols are sporadic and may be suspended due to budget constraints or staffing issues. For roadside assistance, travelers may call the police at 110 or 120 or the fire department at 122 or 123. Cellular telephone service covers most areas frequented by tourists. Some reports of highway robberies include accusations that police, or assailants dressed as police, have been involved.

If a driver has to pull over on the highway, they should do it in a well-illuminated area with high visibility or a public place (preferably within view of a police officer). It is also highly recommended that if individuals are driving, that they use a car with slightly tinted windows and not talk on their cell phones. Furthermore, criminals often look for drivers using cell phones at night and easily identify their targets due to the illumination of smartphones or tablets.

For more information on self-driving, please review OSAC’s Report “Driving Overseas: Best Practices.”

Travelers must also be aware of the high frequency of demonstrations/protests. A number of highly-organized groups are capable of drawing thousands of people to support their cause. One of the most common demonstration tactics is the blocking of major routes. The most successful groups have blocked up to 30 major routes – bringing the countries road network to a standstill. A resource for updated to traffic concerns is https://twitter.com/provial?lang=es. PROVIAL routinely tweets significant issues related to accidents, traffic conditions, and road blockades.   

Public Transportation Conditions

Safety of public transportation: Poor

The most common resource for public transportation is the network of informal bus lines. These bus routes are serviced by brightly colored, recycled school buses. The buses are poorly maintained, and the drivers are barely qualified, creating an untenable security situation. These bus lines are prime targets for extortions and robberies. Bus drivers are habitually assaulted or murdered while on their routes as a consequence of the extortion problem.

Modern inter-city buses offer some security from highway violence, but armed attacks are increasing, indicating that all buses are vulnerable. Several travelers have been attacked on first-class buses on highway CA-2 near the border areas with both Mexico and El Salvador; on highways CA-1 and CA-9 near the border with El Salvador; and in the highlands between Quetzaltenango and Sololá. Travelers need to exercise caution with personal items while riding buses, as tourists’ possessions are a favorite target of thieves.

On average, taxis are barely safer than buses. A number of gypsy cabs and unprofessional companies serve metropolitan areas. These cabs can be targeted for, or complicit in, criminal activity. American citizens have reported moderate success with the use of Taxi Amarillo and Taxi Seguro. Taxi Amarillo Express is a radio-dispatch taxi service and can be reached at 1766. Taxi Seguro can be reached at 2312-4243 but may not always be available, especially late at night. Hailing taxis on the street in Guatemala City is discouraged. Within 2017, Uber has begun operating in Guatemala City, has been a reliable source of transportation, and is used by US Embassy personnel. RSO highlights that you should be prepared to wait in a secure location for an available Uber as they are new to the market and still growing. For more information on ride-sharing, please review OSAC’s Annual Briefing Report “Safety and Security in the Share Economy.”

Aviation/Airport Conditions

La Aurora International Airport has experienced some service issues. On occasion, the airport has been temporarily shut down due to damages caused by severe weather. Flights on major commercial airlines have faced few issues other than delays and re-routing during the worst weather.

The area surrounding the airport has been known to be targeted for crime. Private vehicles, taxis, and shuttle buses have all been targeted. Typically, assailants steal money, passports, and luggage. In some cases, travelers who flagged a taxi at the airport have been robbed of their possessions by the drivers. It is recommended that travel arrangements be made ahead of time. A pre-screened, vetted taxi service is available at the airport. You can hire them at the kiosk under the “SAFE” sign. Assailants have worn full/partial police uniforms and have used vehicles that resemble police vehicles, indicating that some elements of the police might be involved. This issue appears to have lessened in 2017. 

Small, privately owned aircraft present a number of security concerns. Since 2015, the Civilian Aviation Authority investigated over 35 small aircraft accidents. The occurrence of accidents is evenly split between fixed wing and rotary wing aircraft. Maintenance for these aircraft does not meet reasonable standards. Operators of small aircraft could be poorly trained and inexperienced.

Visitors to the Mayan ruins at Tikal are urged to fly to Flores and then travel by shuttle or tour van.

Terrorism Threat

The U.S. Department of State has assessed Guatemala City as being a LOW-threat location for terrorist activity directed at or affecting official U.S. government interests.

Political, Economic, Religious, and Ethnic Violence

The U.S. Department of State has assessed Guatemala City as being a MEDIUM-threat location for political violence directed at or affecting official U.S. government interests.

Civil Unrest

Large demonstrations occur, often with little/no notice, and can cause serious traffic disruptions. Although most demonstrations are peaceful, they can turn violent. The use of roadblocks and/or blocking of public facilities, including the international airport, may delay or prevent tourists from reaching their destination. The Embassy recommends that you avoid demonstrations if/when encountered.   

Post-specific Concerns

Environmental Hazards

Guatemala is a geologically and climatologically active and dynamic country. Guatemala is prone to (but not limited to) seismic activity, volcanic eruptions, severe and unpredictable weather, and unstable terrain. General information about natural disaster preparedness is available locally from the National Disaster Reduction Coordination Office (CONRED) and from the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

Guatemala lies on a major fault line known as the Motagua/Chixoy-Polochic fault complex: the convergence of the Caribbean and North American plates. For March 2017-March 2018, Guatemala registered 66 seismic movements at 3.5 (Richter) or higher. Guatemala has been affected by a number of earthquakes above 7.0.

Guatemala has three very active volcanoes: Pacaya, Santiaguito, and Fuego.

In early February 2015, increased activity at Fuego caused avalanches and shock waves that rattled nearby structures. On February 7, 2015, a Strombolian eruption occurred, causing plumes with water vapor and ash to rise 1.3km in the sky. Ash fell in Guatemala City (about 35km from Fuego), and flights to the international airport had to be diverted to El Salvador.

During 2017, Fuego, Pacaya, and Santiaguito volcanos periodically displayed volcanic activity that included lava flow and ash dispersions.

Tourists planning to climb Pacaya and Agua volcanoes during the rainy season should plan their climb for the morning when thunderstorms are less likely to occur. Climbers should monitor the weather and return to the base of the volcano as quickly and safely as possible if thunderstorms gather. INGUAT has organized an active community-based tourism program in San Vicente Pacaya to minimize the risk of armed robbery or mishap on Pacaya. Climbing volcanoes in groups and with a guide is still highly advisable to reduce the risk of assault and to mitigate the dangers of volcanic and weather conditions. Visiting Guatemala’s picturesque volcanoes can be dangerous for even experienced climbers.

On January 7, 2017, a group of experienced climbers ascended the Acatenango volcano for an overnight excursion. Accompanied by qualified guides, experienced in climbing, and properly equipped, the group was overwhelmed by rapidly changing and severe weather. The temperature dropped below freezing, heavy wind and rain bore down on them, and they were unable to effectively protect themselves. Hypothermia set in, killing six of the climbers.

Guatemala has been called the “land of eternal spring.” However, hurricanes and tropical storms threaten that moniker. During the rainy season, the entire country can feel the effects of severe rainfall. Flooding, mudslides, and landslides all pose a major risk to urban and rural areas alike. The poor road infrastructure can be easily overcome by mudslides. Drivers must exercise extreme caution and patience during these periods. Landslides and flooding have destroyed entire communities.

On October 1, 2015, heavy rains triggered a massive landslide on the outskirts of Guatemala City. The make-shift community of El Cambray Dos was engulfed, leaving hundreds dead. 

Beware of strong currents, riptides, and undertow along the Pacific coast beaches. They pose a serious threat to even the strongest swimmers. Signs warning of treacherous surf are rare and confined mostly to private beaches. Lifeguards are rarely present. For specific information regarding current conditions, visit Guatemala's national weather and geographical authority at: http://www.insivumeh.gob.gt/.

Additional References:

FEMA Earthquake page: http://www.fema.gov/earthquake

Drop Cover Hold On: http://www.dropcoverholdon.org/

Terremotos: A California-specific site containing useful guidance in Spanish for earthquake preparedness: http://www.terremotos.org/

Red Cross – Earthquake Preparedness: http://www.redcross.org/prepare/disaster/earthquake

Red Cross – Earthquake Preparedness (Spanish): http://www.redcross.org/cruz-roja/preparate/terremotos

Critical Infrastructure

Guatemala has a number of infrastructure concerns. Guatemala City grew at a precipitous rate. Basic services, road infrastructure, emergency services, and medical services barely meet the needs of the still-growing population. The capacity of the government to respond to chemical/industrial accidents is extremely limited, and small incidents typically go unreported. The government is also very limited in its technical ability to monitor watershed runoff or air pollution from industrial processes, the most controversial being mining.

Economic Concerns

The U.S.-Central America-Dominican Republic Free Trade Agreement provides for improved standards for the protection and enforcement of a broad range of Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) that are consistent with U.S. standards of protection and enforcement as well as emerging international standards. Enforcement of IPR laws, however, has been inconsistent. A number of raids, cases, and prosecutions have been pursued; however, resource constraints and lack of coordinated government action impede efficient enforcement efforts. Piracy of works protected by copyright and infringement of other forms of intellectual property, such as trademarks including some major U.S. food and pharmaceutical brands, remains problematic. However, economic espionage does not appear to be a major problem.

Personal Identity Concerns

Women should be especially careful when traveling alone and avoid staying out late by themselves. Support for victims of sexual assault is lacking outside of major cities, and there are not enough trained personnel who can help victims either in the capital or outlying areas. Arrest and prosecution of assailants in sexual assault cases is uncommon at best and can be more difficult without private legal assistance.

U.S. citizens are advised to be aware of and avoid activities that might unintentionally violate a cultural or religious belief. Avoid close contact with local children, including taking photographs, especially in rural areas. The Embassy recommends that U.S. citizens refrain from actions that could fuel suspicions of child abductions. Such contact can be viewed with deep suspicion and may provoke panic and violence.

Drug-related Crimes

Narcotics-related crimes factor into the precarious security environment, but the bulk of narco-crime occurs near the Mexican border region. Small-time Guatemalan cartels usurp the territories of their more emboldened Mexican counterparts. Narco-traffickers are very well-armed and operate with impunity in their strongholds. Safe storage of seized drug precursor chemicals is a major challenge. The capacity to transport, treat, store, or dispose of these chemicals safely is severely limited, though the government has tried to develop expertise, albeit with slow progress.

Kidnapping Threat

Kidnaps are not as prevalent in Guatemala as they were in the past. Given the complexity of kidnapping and the PNC’s attention to the type of crime, kidnappings are not as viable enterprises as extortions. The kidnappings that do occur are often connected to drug traffickers. In these instances, narcos are often well-armed and will use massive amounts of force to extort, kidnap, and kill. There have been “express” kidnappings in recent years, primarily in Guatemala City, in which kidnappers demand a relatively small ransom that they believe can be gathered quickly. Some kidnapping gangs are known to kill their victims regardless of a paid ransom. In 2017, the PNC recorded 24 legitimate kidnappings. For more information, please review OSAC’s Report, “Kidnapping: The Basics.”

Police Response

The Policia Nacional Civil (PNC) lacks personnel and training to accomplish their mission. In addition, the PNC suffers from a lack of supplies with little improvement from year-to-year. More often than not, a police investigation fails to result in an arrest, much less a conviction. Apart from impunity, a principal reason that the government is unable to respond to the needs of crime victims, or to prevent them from becoming victims in the first place, is that the PNC is significantly under-trained and under-funded. The average PNC officer often has much less than a high school degree; is often equipped with as little as six months of police training before being sent out on the streets; and receives only $535/month in salary. Moreover, the PNC’s annual budget is inadequate to support its personnel, vehicles, training, and other infrastructure needs. PNC has made progress in the reduction of crimes but has also experienced a turnover in leadership.

How to Handle Incidents of Police Detention or Harassment

U.S. citizens detained by the police can contact the Embassy for assistance at (502) 2326-4000; after working hours the Embassy's Duty Officer is available via the 24-hour emergency number at (502) 2331 2354.

Crime Victim Assistance

There appears to be a significant downtrend in crime victims being asked to pay for gas so that the police, if they have a vehicle available to them, may visit the crime scene. Victims of crime should contact the following phone numbers for assistance:

Police (911 equivalent): 110 or 120

Fire Department: 122 or 123

Tourist emergency assistance: 502 2421-2810

Tourist Assistance (PROATUR): 1500

PROATUR is a joint national police/INGUAT initiative and is present in all major tourist destinations.

Police/Security Agencies

Security escorts for tourist groups and security information are available from the Tourist Assistance Office (PROATUR) of the Guatemalan Tourism Institute (INGUAT) at 7a Avenida 1-17, Zona 4, Centro Cívico, Guatemala City. INGUAT’s PROATUR division has 24-hour/seven days per week direct telephone numbers for tourist assistance and emergencies:

Tel: (502) 2421-2810

Fax: (502) 2421-2891, 1500 in Guatemala

Email: operacionesproatur@inguat.gob.gt.

PROATUR also maintains regional offices in all major tourist destinations, and the regional delegates provide rapid and appropriate assistance to crime and accident victims. Travelers may also wish to visit INGUAT’s website (Spanish only).

Tourist groups are advised to request security escorts from INGUAT. There have been no incidents of armed robbery of groups escorted through the Tourist Protection Program. The request should be submitted by mail, fax, or e-mail (info@inguat.gob.gt) and should arrive at INGUAT at least three business days in advance of the proposed travel. Requests should be directed to the attention of the Coordinator of the National Tourist Assistance Program and should provide the itinerary, names of travelers, and model/color of vehicle. Travelers should be aware that INGUAT might not be able to accommodate all requests.

Medical Emergencies

A wide range of medical care is available in Guatemala City, but medical care outside the city is limited. Public hospitals frequently experience serious shortages of basic medicines and equipment. Care in private hospitals is generally adequate for most common illnesses and injuries, and many of the medical specialists working in them are U.S. trained and certified.

Contact Information for Available Medical Services

For medical assistance, please refer to the Embassy’s Medical Assistance page.

Available Air Ambulance Services

American Aerovac Air Ambulance

Direct: 001-800-423-5993

Other: 001-954-252-2744

rskuf@bellsouth.net

http://americanaerovac.com/info.htm

P.O. Box 291033 Davie, FL 333329-1033

 

Air Ambulance Network

Direct: 001-800-880-9451

Other: 001-727-934-3999

http://www.airambulancenetwork.com/

3607 Alt 19 N., Suite A, Palm Harbor, FL 34683


Aerotaxis Air Ambulance Service

Direct: 502-5709-7922, 502-2331-3073 or 502-2360-4074

aerotaxis@hotmail.com

Avenida Hincapie y 18 Calle, Zona 13, Interior Aeropuerto, Hangar J-12

 

Aero Ruta Maya, S.A. Air Ambulance Service

Work: 502-2418-2727 or 502-2418-2700 or 502-2418-2710

armsa1@intelnett.com

Avenida Hincapie y 18 Calle Final, Hangar L-16, Interior Aeropuerto La Aurora, Zona 13. 

Insurance Guidance

Medevac services are extremely expensive and frequently require payment before the service is rendered. Serious medical problems requiring hospitalization and/or medical evacuation to the U.S. can be costly. It is very important to find out before you travel whether your medical insurance will cover you overseas.

Doctors and hospitals often expect immediate cash payment for health services, although most private hospitals accept major U.S. credit cards. They do not typically enter into payment plan agreements. Travelers should be aware that they may have to pay in advance and seek reimbursement.

Country-specific Vaccination and Health Guidance

The CDC offers additional information on vaccines and health guidance for Guatemala.

OSAC Country Council Information

The Country Council in Guatemala City is active, meeting monthly. Interested private-sector security managers should contact OSAC’s Western Hemisphere Team with any questions.

U.S. Embassy Location and Contact Information

Embassy Address and Hours of Operation

Avenida Reforma 7-01, Zona 10, Ciudad de Guatemala, Guatemala

Business hours: 0800-1700 Mon-Thu; 0800-1200 Fridays

Embassy Contact Numbers

Tel: (502)2326-4000

Emergency after-hours tel: (502)2331-2354

Website: http://guatemala.usembassy.gov

Embassy Guidance

U.S. citizens living in or visiting Guatemala are encouraged to register with the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). STEP will keep you up-to-date with important safety and security announcements and will help your friends and family get in touch with you in an emergency.

Additional Resources

Guatemala Information Sheet