The civil war in Guatemala that began in 1960 dragged on until 1996, and every once in a while the security situation still seems a little hinky. The dangers today aren’t related to the war per se, but they’re certainly fed by the massive displacement, uncertainty and poverty that so many years of fighting caused.
The State Department website for U.S. travelers warns of high rates of kidnappings and murders. It’s chilling, although I’m happy to report that during my two trips to Guatemala in the past 5 years I was met only with kindness and never felt unsafe.
Private security is a booming industry in Guatemala, where the well-to-do always seem to travel with bodyguards. And pretty much every business in Guatemala City is manned by an armed guard. It’s hard to get used to. In Flores, a charmer of a town that sits on a pretty island in the Peten region of Guatemala, it was hard to imagine anything bad happening. But I suppose it does. As soon as the sun set every night, this fellow took his post to stand guard at our hotel gate.