Event: Semana Santa in Guatemala

Security Alert – U. S. Embassy Guatemala City, Guatemala

March 23, 2018

Location: Guatemala, countrywide

Event: As we approach Semana Santa (March 26–April 1) the U.S. Embassy would like to remind citizens to be vigilant at celebrations throughout Guatemala. Please take note of the potential for increased criminal activity.

Armed robbery and petty theft are a nationwide concern, including in wealthier neighborhoods and tourist destinations, and increase before and during Semana Santa.  In the past week, Zone 14 in particular in Guatemala City has seen a rise in armed robberies of individuals walking on major streets during daylight hours.

Next week, many university students will take part in the Huelga de Dolores parade, which satirizes politicians. The traditional attire is a pointed hood or skull mask and robers.  Participants often halt traffic and request money from stranded onlookers. While rarely violent, it is possible for traffic to stop completely for several hours. This year’s parade will occur on Friday, March 23, 2018, in Zone 1 of the capital, and in other cities across Guatemala.

Expect heavy traffic along major routes throughout the country during Semana Santa. Many towns will set up informal toll stops to generate additional income. Municipal police will not always have uniforms, and informal roadblocks made of cones or rope may be common.

Actions to Take:

  • Be aware of your surroundings.
  • Secure your belongings while traveling, leave your phone out of sight, and keep your car windows up.
  • Use precaution when traveling through smaller villages as outsiders may not always be welcomed and intentions may be misunderstood.
  • Consider that trying to avoid paying an informal toll may risk damage to your car or person.