Issued by U.S. State Department
Jun 21, 2001
On June 17, more than 70 felons, many convicted of violent crimes, broke out of a maximum-security prison near Escuintla, about 40 miles south of Guatemala City. Most of the escapees remain at large. As a result of the prison break, the Guatemalan government has suspended for 30 days several constitutional guarantees, including protection from arrest without a warrant and the right to enter and exit the country freely. The suspension of certain civil liberties, and the increased police activity intended to apprehend the escapees, make persons subject to possible traffic stops, searches, detention, and interrogation, without normal constitutional protections. Commercial and government services also may be disrupted.
The American Embassy in Guatemala is limiting travel of U.S. Government personnel around the country, especially in the Escuintla area. American citizens visiting or residing in Guatemala are advised that it may be more difficult to move about freely and safely throughout the country and that highway travel may be impeded due to police roadblocks. Travelers should carry photo identification with them at all times and should cooperate if stopped or questioned by security personnel. Americans should take common-sense precautions and leave areas where large crowds have congregated to demonstrate or protest. Night travel by road should be avoided. This situation can be expected to continue through July 18, unless Guatemalan authorities extend the suspension of civil liberties.