Danger in Guatemala?

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Dec 7th, 2004, 10:57 AM
  #1
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Danger in Guatemala?

I was prepared to spend a few days in Antigua, then 2 weeks on Lake Atitlan in February, until I read the US state dept.'s warning about violence(robbery, assault, rape, murder) to tourists in Guatemala, especially in that area. Does anyone know if this danger is real or exaggerated by the State dept.?
Has anyone been robbed or attacked there?
Thanks.
Joespanol is offline  
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Dec 22nd, 2004, 05:53 PM
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Melissa5's pitiful message deserves a bit of attention. Remember: Those who can do; those who can't throw stones.

re your question: has anyone been robbed or attacked there? As you no doubt realize the answer would relegate you to your house with a large gun in hand and ordered in pizzas [if you trust the pizza guy]

I can assure you that Antigua is as safe as my home, Atlanta. [check the statistics] There is a very sophistocated tourist industry in Antigua and they will not tolerate problems [to the point that 12 years a go they privately funded a special detachment of police to assure no problems].

re Atilan: I have not beem there on an an extended trip [more than 3 days] but it is just like anywhere else: there are good places and bad places. You will recognize the difference. Stumbling home at 3am drunk is poor policy in Atlanta, New York, and Atilan.

Was in G during the middle 90's, rode the chicken busses, went local places. However, I took personal responsibility for not doing dumb stuff. If you are looking for the right to be a fool and then have someone bail you out, best stay in the US. If however you are willing to take responsibility for your decisions, not get toasted in strange places, not try to impose your "customs" on others you will have a terrific time and learn a lot.

BTW: This is the same advice I would give to anyone going to New York or Atlanta!
weber6560 is offline  
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Dec 22nd, 2004, 08:29 PM
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One small simple advice, at night always take a taxi to come back to your hotel, avoid big walks.
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Dec 23rd, 2004, 08:09 AM
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There are no current warnings about Guatemala on the Department of State travel warnings page.... I was in Guatemala a few months ago, and it has gotten more dangerous than a few years ago, but I actually didn't feel too nervous. I do travel to some fairly scary places as part of my job, but, while I was careful (always am - Americans aren't so popular these days in other countries), I felt fine.
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Dec 23rd, 2004, 09:38 AM
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Although I agree with most of the advice above, Guatemala is a fairly dangerous place and that should not be downplayed. And, yes, some places in the U.S. are dangerous as well. But, the risk compared to most of the places we live is higher, in large part driven by extreme poverty and unemployment. If you take reasonable precautions you will most likely be o.k. Still the type of crimes listed below are less frequent in many other locals. See: http://usembassy.state.gov/guatemala/wwwhcrimee.html
In my mind it is often worthwhile to visit places that carry a degree of risk, but to downplay that risk is foolish.
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Dec 23rd, 2004, 11:41 AM
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Joespanol -

You can read the web sites from the English speaking countries that offer travelers advisories and reports. I read them before any trip to gain some background information, to develop a sense of the areas to avoid, and somewhat of a better understanding of the country's political climate. I find this extremely helpful. These sites provide good basic information as to neighborhoods to avoid, political stability, etc. And, by reading through all of them, I end up with a more balanced viewpoint.

Here are some sites to check for Traveler's Advisories. If you read all of them, you will be well-informed.

US - http://www.travel.state.gov/

Canada - http://www.dfait-maeci.gc.ca/menu-en.asp

UK - http://www.fco.gov.uk/servlet/Front?...=1007029390554

Australia - http://www.dfat.gov.au/

Ray and I travelled to Guatemala in 2001 and although we were careful about areas mentioned on the traveler's advisories at the time, we did not have any problem. I will add that we had a escorts by tourist police for our protection at several places: Antigua (hiking back from some of the ruins that are not in the center of town); A a special escort by police car which our bus followed for a great stretch... I think this was on our way to Chicicastenango ... a long bus ride with police escorts for something like a 6-hour drive .... AND again at Tikal from one of the lesser-visited temples. At that time Guatemala was doing everything possible to protect their tourist industry. At that time, we also visited Todos Santos, where a Japanese tourist and Guatemalan busdriver were killed a year earlier. If I remember correctly, the Japanese tourist had very innocently stoked a baby's head. The mother freaked out and thought he was trying to steal her baby. Townspeople came to the mother's "rescue". It was an ugly and sad incident.

So... be very careful as to not touch children, take their photos, etc. (especially in rural areas.)

When we got back we found that there had been "incidents" during our trip which we were unaware of at the time. Even then, I would not have changed my mind about the Guatemala trip.

I think one must realize that the reports by the State Department and other sources often report a single instance of a problem. When you consider the number of tourists who travel and return without incident, I think you get a more balanced view.

- Sharon
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Jan 29th, 2005, 07:09 PM
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Friends,

I just returned from a week and half in Honduras - near the Guatemalan border. I was warned there that Guatemala is VERY dangerous now. In fact, those in the know say that the word is out that factions in Guatemala have announced that they intend to KILL gringos in Guatemala. IF you have rental car plates or even worse rental cars from Honduras - prepare to be a target. This is not an idle warning. My sources are reputable. I had plans to cross into Guatemala from Honduras and even the rental car company warned me. Suspicions are that the Guatemalan police are in on this - meaning they are participating in the violence. Please heed this warning.
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Feb 6th, 2005, 06:21 PM
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I went to Guatemala for Thanksgiving and while everyone told us it was dangerous and we took precations, (leaving jewelry at home, etc.) had an amazing trip and never felt unsafe. we are from NY. stayed at the ruins in tikal for a night and loved it, went to antigua for a couple of nights and had a blast. i'm planning a trip to Guatemala and Belize for July. Very colorful country and i think if you take precautions you should be fine. don't go out alone, after 10pm you must be in the hotel and be careful on the city streets. By the way we met plenty of tourist during our tours and asked all of them if they have seen or experience any crime and we heard the same things from all of them. they were warned about crime and previous incidents but none had experienced it. Yes is a little dangerous but so is taking the A train in New York city at 10pm on a saturday. IT WAS A GREAT TRIP.
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