In 2002, Guatemala was a Central American nation located in the southern part of the continent. With a population of approximately 13 million people, it had an economy based on agriculture and tourism. The literacy rate was high at 86%, and the majority of the population lived in poverty. The economy had transitioned from an agrarian economy to one based on industry during the late 20th century and relied heavily on exports to other countries. According to computerannals, Guatemala had adequate infrastructure with well-maintained roads, reliable electricity and efficient telecommunications networks. Healthcare services were limited; while universal healthcare coverage existed, access to quality medical care was not always available throughout the country. Education levels were also low; most adults had completed secondary school, while tertiary enrollment rates hovered around 15%. Despite its many advantages, Guatemala still faced economic challenges due to its reliance on exports and its large public sector debt levels.
Guatemala. According to Countryaah website, national day of Guatemala is every September 15. Central Bank Governor Lizardo Sosa was kidnapped on February 24 under mysterious circumstances. He was released four days later, but refused to comment on the incident. Rumors said the government negotiated with the kidnappers and paid a “smaller” ransom.
In June, a court approved an international arrest warrant for former President Jorge Serrano Elías, who lives in exile in Panama. He is wanted for embezzlement and abuse of power in connection with his failed coup attempt in 1993, when Congress and the Supreme Court dissolved and he himself was forced to resign.
President Alfonso Portillo, along with his vice president, was charged with illegality. According to newspapers in Guatemala and Panama, he has set up 23 bank accounts and formed four ghost companies in Panama to “launder” illegally obtained money. The scandal grew when three members of the congressional committee investigating the case resigned with the declaration that their work was sabotaged by the members of the committee belonging to the ruling party.
According to the President of the Supreme Court, in 2001, 23 judges faced threats or harassment. The information was given to UN Special Envoy for Legal Independence, Param Cumaraswamy. He stated on his departure that impunity was still prevalent in Guatemala and that the government had no political will to deal with this condition.
In the newspaper Siglo XXI, President Portillo was accused of transferring public funds to his personal bank accounts. There are ongoing reports in the press about public servants involved in fraud and the harassment of the judiciary to prevent the resolution of these cases.
In 2002, the Constitutional Court lifted Ríos Montts and 23 others’ parliamentary immunity. Already in 2001, the Fundación Rigoberta Menchú (FRM) had started a case in the Spanish judicial system against Montt for genocide, torture and disappearance. There was an alternative attempt to prosecute Montt and the other military responsible for the death of 200,000 Guatemalans. That same year, Guillermo Ovalle de León of the FRM was murdered, and a large number of human rights defenders and journalists digging in the case were harassed and attacked.
In 2002, Guatemala and Belice agreed to end the long-standing border dispute between the two countries. The agreement involved the implementation of referendums in both countries. President Portillo was once again charged with public money fraud. Journalists Rodolfo Flores of the Siglo XXI newspaper in Guatemala and Rolando Rodríguez of La Prensa in Panama could reveal that the president, friends and family members had set up bank accounts in Panama and other off-shore tax havens to which the money was transferred. Portillo accused the press of having “party-political motives to overshadow the charges of corruption”.
In 2003, the Spanish authorities gave a green light to the FRM’s trial targeting 6 Guatemalan officers – including Rios Montt – as well as 2 civilians for the murders of 4 Spanish priests and 3 Spanish diplomats. In Guatemala, the human rights organization CALDH filed a lawsuit against Rios Montt for genocide against the indigenous population. Human rights organizations expected the Spanish judiciary to issue international arrest warrants against the accused.
Oscar Berger of the Gran Alianza Nacional party won the election over Álvaro Colom of the Unión Nacional de la Esperanza. The United Nations Monitoring Mission in the country, MINIGUA, issued a report on the circumstances of the election marked by threats, persecution and murder of opposition activists and candidates – especially in the country. Former members of the Civil Defense Patrol contributed enormously to creating this climate of uncertainty – according to. Comité Campesino del Altiplano (CCDA. Supporters of Ríos Montt conducted violent protest actions claiming he had won the election. A number of human rights organizations accused FRG of being behind the events in which a journalist was killed and others wounded.
In his takeover of the presidential post in February 2004, Berger declared that he would restore confidence in the institutions and invest in health, education and technology, fight corruption and implement a population security plan. He also promised to rebuild the country’s productive infrastructure, invest in roads, ports and airports, modernize the police and fight drug trafficking and organized crime.
In his takeover of power, Berger repeatedly invited Rigoberta Menchú and Helen Mack from one of the popular organizations to work with his government. Both ultimately accepted the offer, and the president declared that it was not possible to talk about national unity without implementing the peace agreement. The same year, the government signed an agreement with the UN to set up a commission to investigate illegal and secret security forces responsible for political violence in the country.
Guatemala Country Overview
Finnish citizens do not need a visa to Guatemala.
NOTE. The passport must be valid for 6 months from arrival in the country.
- According to ABBREVIATIONFINDER.ORG, GTM stands for Guatemala.
Everyone participating in the trip must have a valid travel insurance that covers medical expenses in the event of illness or other similar need. Please check the validity of your own insurance and the terms and conditions of the insurance cancellation cover.
Please pay attention to the special nature of your trip and check the coverage of the insurance in that respect as well. In many locations, the insurance must also be valid when moving at an altitude of more than 3,000 meters, in which case it also covers mountain sickness.
Many hiking or diving trips require more extensive insurance, which covers, for example, diving or moving on a glacier. Please check the contents of your insurance with your insurance company.
Please check your destination for yellow fever vaccination requirements well in advance of your trip, for example here. An international yellow fever vaccination certificate is required when traveling to some countries. Please also note that in some countries a vaccination certificate is required if you arrive from a country where yellow fever is considered to occur. This is important to consider especially when traveling across multiple states. We recommend that you keep a vaccination card with you when traveling far away.
current Electrical current in Guatemala 115 V / 125 V. An adapter is required for devices used in Finnish sockets.
Check with your operator for the coverage of your mobile phone. The area code for Guatemala is +502.
The time difference to Guatemala is -8 hours in winter and -9 hours in summer.
The currency of
Guatemala is the Quetzal (GTQ). 1 € = about 11.66 GTQ. You can also keep US dollars with you.
fee The exit fee from Guatemala is about 8 GTQ. Exit fees are always paid in person when leaving the country. Local authorities may change exit fees without notice.
Domestic flight An internal flight is subject to an airport tax of approximately USD 3, payable in person at the airport. Local authorities may change the amount without notice.
tip is given for good service. Waiters and restaurant staff expect 5-10% tips on the final invoice unless a service charge is included in the invoice price.
For bag carriers in hotels, it is recommended to give about 10 GTQ / bag. The recommended tip rate for local guides is about 50 GTQ / day.