Customs and traditions
The most common way to health is with a
handshake. Friends can be kissed, which is more common
among women than between men and women. Male friends can
show affection by hugging each other.
Friends often have a small distance between
themselves and often touch each other when they talk.
Eye contact is important for ladinos, but not usually
for Mayan people. Ladinos also often have more physical
contact between them than maya, whose handshake is often
limp and more like a light touch while ladinos have a
firm handshake. As a foreigner, it is good to feel the
situation and give a maya a careful handshake and no
more eye contact than he or she seems to want. Ladinos
often show feelings openly, both joy and sorrow, which
may not do to a great extent.
Overview of the capital city of Guatemala, including information about its population, economy, geography, history and map.
Guatemalans are very polite, especially to
Westerners. For example, it is good practice to say
"tasty meal" (qué aproveche) to people who eat
at a workplace or restaurant, even if you do not know
Family, work, football, travel and excursions are
often good conversation topics when meeting someone for
the first time. Care should be taken to address issues
such as human rights and the relations between ladinos
and maya, which are very sensitive. Praising Guatemala's
beautiful nature and architecture can be a great way to
open a conversation. Maya are generally more cautious
and less open to conversations with unknowns than
ladinos are. They usually avoid sensitive topics, but
respond positively and kindly to what they raise.
Guatemalans are often described as friendly, hospitable
Dress, address and times
At work, most people are well-dressed and as visitors
it is good to also dress formally to gain respect.
In a workplace, some may address each other with you
(tú) and others with you (usted). It
depends on what kind of relationship you have with each
other. If you speak to a parent or someone you do not
know, you should use n-talk.
People are more punctual in cities than in rural
areas, but that is partly because public transport takes
time and is unreliable. More than half an hour, however,
you usually do not have to wait for someone. Punctuality
is slightly worse and the absence is greater in public
workplaces than in private. The rate of work is
generally lower than in Europe and the United States.
Food and meals
Corn is the basic product of Guatemalan food culture.
Tortillas, which are thin round bread baked with
cornmeal, are eaten for all meals and are often used to
take other food on the plate, even if you also have
cutlery. Other staples are black beans, rice and food
bananas. Chicken and beef are common, but not everyone
can afford to eat meat. The food culture also includes
various soups, pies (empanadas), enchiladas
(here fried tortillas with salad, vegetables, chopped
meat, tomato sauce and grated cheese) as well as tacos
and guacamole. A slightly more festive dish is
tamales, which is made from corn dough and filled
with meat, tomato sauce and chili and then rolled into
banana leaves. Roots and vegetables such as potatoes,
sweet potatoes, yuccarot (cassava, cassava), squash,
avocado and tomatoes are eaten as accessories for meat,
rice and beans. Coriander is a common spice. For
breakfast, tortilla, mashed beans, scrambled eggs and
fried bananas are often eaten and coffee is consumed.
The most important meal is eaten in the middle of the
day. For dessert you can, among other things, get
buñuleos, deep-fried balls that resemble donuts.
Papaya, pineapple, mango, melon, breadfruit, citrus
fruits and cactus fruit pitaya are some of the
many fruits eaten in Guatemala, partly as a dessert and
partly as a snack.
A typical Guatemalan drink is the hot atol
that can be made from rice, food bananas, cocoa or other
ingredients. Of fruit are made different juices, usually
with sugar. The country also produces popular alcoholic
beverages, mainly beer and rum.
Holidays and Holidays
In addition to the Christian holidays and New Year's
Day and May 1, Guatemalans celebrate Army Day on June
30, Independence Day on September 15 in memory of
Guatemalan Independence from Spain in 1821, and October
Revolution Day in memory of Revolution 1944. These dates
are official holidays.
In addition, there are many local celebrations when
different saints are celebrated. On January 15, every
year, Christians celebrate the "Black Christ" hanging on
the cross of the Cathedral of Esquipula in southeastern
Guatemala. Many Central Americans pilgrimage to the
church for this day.
Alta Verapaz state of emergency
President Colom announces a two-month state of emergency in the province of
Alta Verapaz, which is largely controlled by the Mexican drug cartel Zetas.
Thus, the police and military are given increased powers to regain control of
Presidential veto against capital punishment
President Colom vetoes a bill to reintroduce the death penalty. The
right-wing opposition and a large part of the popular opinion believe that the
death penalty is needed in the fight against the high crime rate.
US apology for medical experiment
US President Barack Obama apologizes through President Colom Guatemala after
media revealed that American scientists in the 1940s deliberately infected about
700 prisoners, psychiatric patients and soldiers with syphilis and gonorrhea to
test antibiotics. Guatemala requires compensation for the victims and their
relatives. A commission appointed by Obama later states that at least 83
Guatemalans died in connection with the research project.
Ex-minister arrested in Spain
Former Interior Minister Carlos Vielmann is arrested in Spain on suspicion of
conspiracy with organized crime. Vielmann is one of 19 high-ranking people under
Oscar Berger's government (2004–2008) who Cicig charges for extrajudicial
executions of prisoners, murders, drug trafficking, money laundering,
kidnappings and blackmail.
The arrest after the Cicig investigation
Eighteen former civil servants and police officers are arrested, suspected of
extrajudicial executions of prisoners during a 2006 prison riot. The arrests are
based on an investigation by Cicig.
Cicig's boss resigns
Spaniard Carlos Castresana resigns as head of the Commission Cicig in protest
at what he calls a lack of improvements in the justice system. In particular, he
faces the election of a new prosecutor - a lawyer accused of having ties to
criminal circles. The appointment of prosecutors is later withdrawn. Cicig gets
a new boss - Costa Rican Francisco Dall'Anese.
Ministers and police chiefs are fired
President Colom dismisses his fourth Minister of the Interior, who is
suspected of corruption, and his fourth national police chief, suspected of drug
trafficking. At the same time, reports that death patrols are active in the
Former President Alfonso Portillo is arrested by police (see October 2008)
after a court accepted a request to extradite Portillo to the United States,
where he is suspected of money laundering.