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Guatemala Public Announcement

Issued by US Department of State

Apr 07, 2003

This Public Announcement is being issued to alert American citizens to the possibility of civil disturbances and blockades throughout Guatemala. This supersedes the Public Announcement of February 26, 2003, and expires on December 1, 2003.

Roadblocks and other demonstrations by various groups and in multiple locations frequently appear in Guatemala with little notice. In June 2002, former members of Guatemalan civil defense patrol, many of them armed, blocked all major roads in the Petén region, including the airport in Flores, and forcibly detained some tourists. Promised payments to the patrol groups have not materialized, and they are threatening new demonstrations throughout Guatemala that may impede the ability to move freely and safely within and into the country.

A successful teachers' strike in February 2003, which blockaded both international airports and most major highways leading into Guatemala from neighboring countries, may encourage other groups to use these methods. Guatemala's presidential elections are scheduled for November 2003; protest activities by a variety of groups can be anticipated throughout the months approaching the election.

Most demonstrations in Guatemala have been peaceful, but increasing numbers are turning violent. Travelers should avoid areas where demonstrations are taking place. The use of roadblocks and/or blocking of public facilities, including the international airports, has increased, and demonstrators may prevent tourists caught behind the blockades from leaving. U.S. citizens visiting or residing in Guatemala should monitor local media reports and consult hotel personnel and tour guides to see if there is protest activity that justifies suspension of travel. U.S. citizens may also consult with the Consular section of the U.S. Embassy for updated security information.

For further information on travel to Guatemala, please consult the Department of State's latest Consular Information Sheet, available on the Bureau of Consular Affairs home page at http://travel.state.gov. The U.S. Embassy is located in Guatemala at 7-01 Avenida la Reforma, Zone 10; telephone (011-502-331-1541; website at http://usembassy.state.gov/guatemala.

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