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Country profile for Guatemala

Provided Courtesy of Security Exchange 24

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Red (High Risk) InTouch advice:

Most parts of the country are dangerous.

Do not travel unless absolutely necessary.

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Some parts of the country are dangerous.

Travel with caution.

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Green (Low Risk) InTouch advice:

Most parts of the country are safe.

Travel freely.

General Information

  • Capital: Guatemala City
  • Major Languages: Spanish
  • Currency: Quetzal
  • Timezone: GMT -6:00

Country Map

Map of Guatemala

President Jimmy Morales was elected in January 2016 after his predecessor, Otto Perez Molina, was removed from office for involvement in a massive political scandal. As part of one of his main promises, President Morales vowed a crackdown against corruption. In 2007, the UN-backed International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) started operating in the country to investigate subversive groups and their links to government officials. CICIG’s mandate was renewed in April 2016, just months after President Morales was sworn into office. The relationship between the Morales administration and the CICIG has been turbulent. It intensified since the country’s Attorney General Thelma Aldana and CICIG’s head Ivan Velazquez opened a corruption probe against the president over alleged funding irregularities to his 2015 campaign. In August 2017, President Morales expelled Velazquez over claims that he was meddling in the country’s domestic affairs. Velazquez's expulsion was followed by the revocation of visas to several CICIG officials. Despite resistance from the country's Constitutional Court, the CICIG officially ended its mandate in September 2019 after President Morales chose not to renew the commission's mandate. The row with the CICIG engulfed the government in a political crisis, leading to a wave of cabinet resignations and international condemnation. For several weeks, protests hit the streets of Guatemala City after the announcement of a controversial bill aimed at reforming the country’s penal code system, which would allow alternative sentences for more than 400 crimes.

In January 2020, Alejandro Giammattei took office as the country's new president. Giammattei ran as the candidate of the conservative VAMOS. He defeated the candidate of the National Unity of Hope (UNE), Sandra Torres. Giammattei won the elections despite Torres winning the first round of voting. Giammattei takes office as corruption, crime and US-bound migration continue to be Guatemala's major challenges. Similar to his predecessor, Giammattei has already said that he will not renew CICIG's mandate, while also pledging to renegotiate a controversial migration deal with the US.

Guatemala is engaged in a long-standing territorial dispute with neighbouring Belize, which is currently being handled at the International Court of Justice (ICJ). In a sign of the increasing tension between both countries, Guatemala deployed 3,000 troops to the border in April 2016 after a teenager was shot dead in Belize. Despite the situation leading to successive diplomatic spats, the risk of a potential armed conflict remains low.

Over the last decade, Guatemala has witnessed an increase in drug-trafficking from South America into Mexico and the US. Mexican-based drug cartels are known to operate along the country’s north-western border. In September 2019, the government has declared a state of emergency across several departments in northern Guatemala after three soldiers were killed during a military operation in Izabal. As a result, more than 2,000 soldiers were deployed to several areas in Alta Verapaz, El Progreso, Izabal, Peten and Zacapa. In the same month, then-Interior Minister Enrique Degenhart has acknowledged that Guatemala shifted from being a major transit route for cocaine to a producer country. His remarks were made after claims that the police and the military have dismantled numerous coca plantations and labs in those departments where the state of emergency was imposed.

Street gangs, such as the Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) and Barrio 18, largely operate across major urban areas. The MS-13 and Barrio 18 are two notorious gangs that are mainly present across the so-called ‘Northern Triangle’, which is comprised of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. Both groups are often engaged in murder, extortion, kidnapping and violent territorial disputes, resulting in high levels of homicide in the capital. Most businesses targeted are those related to services and public transport. Although most crimes are gang-related, tourists and foreign nationals are occasionally targeted. In September 2014, a group of tourists was attacked while travelling on a shuttle between Antigua and Lanquin. Similar attacks have also occurred on the main highway from Cocales to San Lucas Toliman. Armed robberies along the Panamericana Highway (CA-1), leading from Guatemala City to the border with El Salvador, are also common. Petty criminals operate in all major urban areas, particularly around the central market in Guatemala City. Tourist sites and transport hubs are also popular with pickpockets and other opportunistic thieves. Kidnapping remains a high-risk threat in the country. Although most targets are domestic nationals, foreign tourists have been previously attacked in recent years. In January 2015, 13 foreign nationals were rescued by the police in the town of Huehuetenango. In April 2017, two Australian backpackers were kidnapped and robbed at gunpoint when criminals hijacked a shuttle bus heading to Nicaragua. In January 2020, President Giammattei declared a state of alert in three cities due to high-levels of criminality linked to street gangs. As part of the government's anti-crime package, the measure was implemented in Villa Nueva, Mixco and Sacatepequez.

Guatemala has four active volcanoes – Pacaya, Santiaguito, Fuego and Tecuamburro – and they can cause disruption and lead to evacuations. In June 2018, more than 165 people were killed and 260 others went missing when the Fuego Volcano erupted. Mudslides – or lahar – buried entire villages located around the volcano’s slopes. Thousands of people living across the departments of Escuintla, Sacatepequez and Chimaltenango were forced to evacuate, while ashfall caused the suspension of flights at Guatemala City’s La Aurora International Airport. Alerts are frequently issued as most of those volcanoes often exhale fumes and engage in small-scale eruptions. Travellers should respect pre-established exclusion zones and restricted areas often around the crater and high-risk slopes.

Earthquakes are also relatively common and are occasionally strong enough to cause fatalities. In 2012, a 7.4-magnitude tremor killed 19 people and caused damage in San Marcos, Quetzaltenango, Sololá, Totonicapán, Quiché and Huehuetenango departments. It was the deadliest quake since 1976, where more than 20,000 died when a powerful 7.5-magnitude tremor hit the country.

Guatemala is also affected by tropical weather systems, particularly during the Atlantic hurricane season, which usually runs between June and November. Weather systems in the Pacific may also affect the country. Heavy rainfall can increase the risk of flash flooding and landslides. In November 2015, a major landslide killed 280 people and buried an entire village in Santa Catarina Pinula. During these periods, travellers in Guatemala are advised to follow updates from the US National Hurricane Center (NHC) and Guatemala's National Coordination for Disaster Reduction (CONRED).

News articles

By IFEX

Three journalists killed in one week in Guatemala

Journalists Danilo L√≥pez and Federico Salazar, correspondents for Prensa Libre and Radio Nuevo Mundo, in Mazatenago, Suchitep√©quez (167 km southwest of the capital city) were killed on 10 March 2015 by two people on a motorcycle in the city's central park. 

View all articles for Guatemala

Alerts for Guatemala

Tropical Storm Cristobal may affect some areas in Guatemala

Inclement weather could affect some departments in Guatemala as Tropical Storm Cristobal moves near the Mexican border. According to the Guatemalan Met Institute, Cristobal may bring intense rainfall and strong winds to southern and central departments. Some areas in the northern department of Peten could also be affected. Landslides, flooding and damage to infrastructure could be reported. Special attention should also be paid to areas near volcanoes. Weather systems often affect Guatemala during the Atlantic Hurricane Season, which usually lasts until November.

Coronavirus outbreak triggers state of emergency in San Miguel Petapa

A state of emergency has been declared in the southern town of San Miguel Petapa after a coronavirus outbreak was confirmed at a textile factory. Guatemala's health ministry confirmed last week that more than 200 people tested positive for coronavirus. Prensa Libre reported that the outbreak may have originated from a single patient, but such claims have not yet been independently confirmed. Operations at the factory came to halt until it was allowed to resume last Wednesday. Guatemala has reported more than 4,000 coronavirus cases so far, including 80 deaths.

Dozens evacuated as severe weather hit Guatemala

Dozens of people have been evacuated as heavy rainfall continues to affect several departments across Guatemala. Reports from the National Coordination for Disaster Reduction (CONRED) show that more than 60 people were evacuated and that over 1,700 were affected in the departments of El Progreso, Quiche, Zacapa, Chiquimula and Chimaltenango. Adverse weather is forecast to persist over the next few days, especially in southern and central areas. Flooding and landslides are common during the Guatemalan rainy season, which runs between May and October.

President Giammattei openly criticises US deportation flights

President Alejandro Giammattei has openly criticised the US for continuing to deport Guatemalan migrants back to the country. He said: "Guatemala is a US ally, but the US is not an ally of Guatemala, neither they treat us as allies". More than 100 Guatemalan returnees that have been deported from the US during the coronavirus pandemic have already tested positive for coronavirus. Giammattei has been reported as the first Guatemalan president to openly criticise the US deportation policy. In April, deportation flights from the US were temporarily suspended.

Thousands affected as heavy rainfall hit central Guatemala

More than 10,000 people have been affected after heavy rainfall battered central Guatemala over the weekend. According to official documents, the most affected areas were the departments of Chiquimula, Huehuetenango, Quetzaltenango, Zacapa and El Progreso. Hundreds of people were forced to evacuate their homes after buildings suffered damage. Landslides and widespread flooding were reported in most rural areas. Guatemala's rainy season started in April and adverse weather is frequent during the month of May. So far, 150,000 people have already been affected.

Coronavirus restrictions reinforced after spike in cases

President Alejandro Giammattei has announced that some coronavirus restrictions will be reinforced after a spike in the number of cases were confirmed in Guatemala. Among the measures include further surveillance in some shops and other businesses that were allowed to reopen this week. Inter-regional travel is also forbidden, while a curfew between 18:00 and 04:00 local time will be enforced. Guatemala has so far reported more than 1,000 cases, including 26 deaths.

Four minors deported from Mexico test positive for coronavirus

Four unaccompanied minors deported from Mexico have tested positive for coronavirus. According to the government, the deportees arrived in Guatemala by bus and were isolated in a health facility. In total, more than a dozen children arrived on the same bus and were tested for coronavirus. Government data shows that at least 100 deportees from the US have tested positive for coronavirus. Deportation flights from the US have been cancelled due to fears of community spread. Guatemala has so far confirmed nearly 800 coronavirus cases, including 21 deaths.

State of emergency extended until June

Guatemala's current state of emergency is set to be extended by another 30 days as the government attempts to curb the spread of the coronavirus. Congress is expected to ratify the decision on the next few days. The current state of emergency will expire on 5 May. The extension of the state of emergency will mainly be focused on the regulation of prices of some essential products and the coordination of imports. During this period, the government will be allowed to continue to enforce curfews and introduce movement restrictions. Guatemala has so far confirmed more than 500 coronavirus cases, including 16 deaths - more than 60 people have recovered.

Government announces enforcement of new curfew hours

Curfew hours in Guatemala between 20 and 27 April have been changed. Authorities have announced that the new curfew will be enforced between 18:00 and 04:00 local time. The curfew may be extended and the hours could be changed within the next week. Social distancing guidelines are being implemented in the country. Some measures include the use of face masks in public places. Steep fines could be imposed on those that violate those rules. More than 300 coronavirus cases have already been confirmed in Guatemala, including at least seven deaths.

Some travellers may be requested additional documents to depart Guatemala

Some travellers wishing to depart Guatemala should be required to procure a letter of safe passage, or a 'salvoconducto'. Guatemalan authorities are expected to provide the documentation directly to the embassy, consular or diplomatic representation. For further information, travellers have been requested to directly contact their embassy in Guatemala. Despite the suspension of all flights to and from Guatemala, there is still limited availability of flights to the US and Mexico.

Deportation flights from the US to be suspended

Deportation flights from the US have been suspended after a number of coronavirus cases were identified in recent Guatemalan deportees. AP reported that dozens of Guatemalans deported from the US have tested positive for coronavirus at a US flight that landed on Monday. The flight was operated after a temporary ban on deportation flights. The report has not been officially confirmed. Guatemala has so far confirmed more than 200 cases of coronavirus, including seven deaths. 

Use of face masks to become compulsory in Guatemala

Guatemala's government has announced that the use of face masks nationwide will be required from Monday, 13 April. People heading outdoors, to supermarkets and other shops should wear face masks at all times or risk being fined. President Alejandro Giammattei has already announced a number of drastic measures to address the spread of coronavirus in Guatemala. According to official data, Guatemala has 67 cases confirmed, including three deaths. President Giammattei has urged people to remain indoors and not travel during the Easter holidays.

President Giammattei extends coronavirus curfew until mid-April

President Alejandro Giammattei has ordered the extension of the coronavirus curfew until at least 12 April. He announced the measure through social media. A partial curfew was imposed in Guatemala last week, where people have been ordered to remain at home between 16:00 and 04:00 local time. Outside those hours, people are also imposed with heavy movement restrictions. Recent data from the health ministry shows that Guatemala has 34 cases of coronavirus, including one death.

Government imposes curfew to address coronavirus outbreak

Guatemala's National Civil Police (PNC) and the military have enforced a nationwide curfew imposed to curb the spread of the coronavirus in the country. People have been forbidden to stay on the streets from 16:00 to 04:00 local time. The measure was imposed on Sunday and is expected to last for at least eight days. People who fail to follow the recommendations could be detained or hit with heavy fines. President Alejandro Giammattei has already announced a state of emergency. Guatemala has reported 17 coronavirus cases, including four deaths.

President Giammattei orders border closure amid coronavirus fears

President Alejandro Giammattei has announced the closure of the Guatemalan border. He said that Guatemalan nationals will be the only ones to be allowed to enter the country through some border crossings with Mexico, Belize, Honduras and El Salvador. Guatemala confirmed its first case of the coronavirus last week. So far, six cases were confirmed in total across the country. The measure is expected to be initially implemented for 15 days. All commercial flights will also be cancelled.

Valor party proposes reintroduction of the death penalty

Members of the conservative Valor party have proposed a bill that would reintroduce the death penalty in Guatemala. Prensa Libre reported that lawmakers said that the measure would be imposed on those convicted multiple times for serious crime, such as murder. The death penalty has been declared as unconstitutional back in 2017. Records show that the latest person to receive the death penalty in Guatemala was in 2000. Guatemala is a signatory of the San Jose Pact, also known as the Human Rights American Convention, which sets a series of limitations on the circumstances in which the death penalty can be applied. Valor has nine members in Congress.

All travellers from Europe to be quarantined in Villa Nueva

President Alejandro Giammattei has announced that all travellers arriving in Guatemala from Europe will be quarantined for seven days. In an official statement, he said that people arriving in the country on flights from European countries will be taken to a medical facility in Villa Nueva, located near Guatemala City. No cases of coronavirus have been confirmed so far in Guatemala.

Four people killed in armed attack near Esquipulas

Four people have been killed in an attack near Esquipulas. The victims were shot dead on the main road leading to the town on Monday night. One of the victims has been identified as Zolia Argentina Lemus Guzman, the wife of alleged drug trafficker Jorge Luis Melendez.

Former AG Thelma Aldana granted asylum in the US

Guatemala's former attorney general, Thelma Aldana, has been formally granted political asylum in the US. The Foreign Affairs Committee of the US House of Representatives has confirmed that Aldana's asylum request has been approved. She was praised for her role in anti-corruption efforts in Guatemala. Aldana is the target of two international arrest warrants for crimes of corruption and misuse of public funds. She was a presidential candidate in the 2019 election but has not returned to the country due to fears of getting arrested. She was closely working with the UN-backed International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) - which was expelled from the country - in a case that implicated President Jimmy Morales.

President Giammattei declares state of prevention in Escuintla

President Alejandro Giammattei has expanded the declaration of a state of prevention to several towns in Escuintla, southern Guatemala. The measure was announced on Friday and will involve the towns of Nueva Concepcion, Palin, Puerto de San Jose, Tiquisate, Santa Lucia Cotzumalguapa and Escuintla. It will last for at least six days. The state of prevention in Guatemala comes as part of a nationwide strategy to address high-levels of criminality. So far, the measure was already implemented in several towns in the departments of Chilmatenango, Sacatepequez and Guatemala. States of prevention restrict a series of activities, including protests and large gatherings. During this period, police and military operations are frequent.

State of prevention declared in three areas across Chimaltenango

President Alejandro Giammattei has approved a state of prevention in three areas in Chimaltenango, located west of Guatemala City. The presidential decree was issued on Wednesday in order to address high-level of criminal activity in the areas of El Tejar, San Andres Itzapa and in the department's capital. Dozens of police operations were launched just after the decree was published. Since taking office, President Giammattei has approved states of alert across several towns in Guatemala. Such measures are claimed to be needed to counter street gangs engaged in extortion and other crimes.

Authorities to coordinate large-scale earthquake drill in Guatemala City

Guatemalan authorities will coordinate a large-scale earthquake drill in Guatemala City. EFE reported over 250,000 people are expected to take part in the simulation scheduled for 04 February. It will involve preparations for an eventual 7.6-magnitude earthquake with its epicentre in the northern department of Izabal. The drill comes 44 years after a powerful earthquake led to the death of more than 25,000 people. The drill starts at 10:00 local time. Some disruption is highly expected in the capital. Guatemala is extremely vulnerable to seismic and volcanic activity due to its location in the Pacific Ring of Fire.

Alert declaration expanded to Villa Nueva

President Alejandro Giammattei has expanded an alert declaration to a third city in the outskirts of Guatemala City. In a statement, the newly-inaugurated president said that the town of Villa Nueva has been put under a state of alert due to serious security concerns. The town joins the municipalities of Mixco and Sacatepequez that were previously included in the government's new anti-crime plan. With the alert declaration, civil liberties in the town will be restricted, while public gatherings will also be limited. Deliberate stop and searches and police checkpoints may also be implemented in some areas. Street gang violence is widespread in some cities. Factions linked to the Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) and Barrio 18 are the main forces behind high-crime rates.

Wanted former minister sheltering at Colombian ambassador's residence

Former economy minister Acisclo Urruela is currently sheltering at the residence of the Colombian ambassador in Guatemala City after being the target of an arrest warrant. Urruela, who served as minister to former President Jimmy Morales, is accused of racketeering and money laundering. Reports suggest that he had requested political asylum in Colombia. Urruela was stripped of his political immunity last week when President Alejandro Giammattei announced his new cabinet. Urruela is accused of receiving bribery from then vice-president Roxana Baldetii to approve pieces of legislation and public contracts.

Continuous activity still reported at Pacaya Volcano

Guatemala's National Volcanology Institute (INSUVIMEH) has confirmed that the Pacaya Volcano in southern Guatemala continues to expel lava. In a recent report published on Tuesday, INSIVUMEH confirmed that a lava flow has already expanded 150 metres in southern and western directions. Authorities are currently monitoring developments. Pacaya's activity currently poses no risk to nearby communities. People have been advised to follow recommendations from the local authorities. Tourists in the area are advised to follow alerts from rangers at the Pacaya National Park and not to approach the volcano's slopes or crater.

Hundreds trapped while attempting to cross the Mexican border

Hundreds of people are currently trapped on the border after Mexican authorities blocked their entry. Members of a migrant caravan that took off from the northern Honduran city of San Pedro Sula have been prevented from crossing into Mexico to proceed with their journey towards the US. Mexico has recently revamped its migration policies after US President Donald Trump threatened to introduce tariffs on Mexican goods. The US government has also made migration agreements with Honduras and Guatemala over threats of slashing US aid to those countries. Migrant caravans became a common phenomenon in recent years. Last year, thousands were camping near the US border in Tijuana while they awaited response to their asylum requests. Most of those that take part in migrant caravans come from low-income areas across Central America that are plagued by violence from street gangs.

President Giammattei declares state of alert in two towns plagued by gang violence

President Alejandro Giammattei has declared a state of alert in two towns due to high levels of gang violence. In a televised speech, the new Guatemalan president has announced that security measures will be enhanced in the towns of Mixco and San Juan Sacatepequez. Both towns are located west of Guatemala City. He said: “From today on, we will relentlessly pursue, 24 hours a day, all the criminals who have had us on our knees." President Giammattei is expected to launch a hard-line approach to street gangs, which are largely responsible for high-levels of criminality in Guatemala. He has already proposed the creation of legislation to designate street gangs as terrorist groups. Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) and the Barrio 18 are among the most notorious groups that operate in Guatemala and across Central America. They are engaged in extortion, threats, murder and kidnapping.

Social groups request arrest warrant against outgoing President Morales

Social groups have requested that Guatemala's prosecutor's office issue an arrest warrant against outgoing President Jimmy Morales. AFP reported that nearly a dozen social groups pressured Attorney General Consuelo Porras to submit to a court an investigation against the former president. Morales is leaving the presidency after first taking office in 2016. Alejandro Giammattei took office on Tuesday, vowing a crackdown on corruption and crime. Due to his political immunity - which parliament refused twice to remove -  the corruption investigations against Morales were halted several times.

Alejandro Giammattei sworn in as Guatemala's new president

Alejandro Giammattei has taken office on Tuesday after winning a contested presidential run-off last year. President Jimmy Morales leaves office as Guatemala is facing increasing pressure from the US over a controversial asylum agreement. Giammattei had already said that he will renegotiate the Asylum Cooperation Agreement (ACA). Political tensions continue high in Guatemala since President Morales was accused of corruption and engaged in a row with the UN-backed International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) - Giammattei has already said that he will not renew CICIG's mandate. Corruption, drug-trafficking and crime will be among the main challenges inherited by Giammattei from the previous administration.

Powerful 6.3-magnitude earthquake strikes off Guatemala

A powerful 6.3-magnitude earthquake has been recorded off Guatemala's south-western coast. According to the Guatemalan Seismology Institute (INSIVUMEH), the quake struck at 22:27 local time on Tuesday. It was reportedly felt in the departments of Antigua Guatemala, Escuintla, Guatemala and Solola. It was also felt across several areas in south-western Mexico. Reports from the US Geological Survey (USGS) showed that the quake's depth was at 11km. No major damage has been reported. Guatemala is vulnerable to earthquakes due to its location along the Pacific Ring of Fire.

Lawmakers approve law that would significant reduce sentences fro corruption convictions

Lawmakers have approved legislation that would significantly reduce corruption sentences to elected politicians in Guatemala. Although members of the unicameral congress enjoy from political immunity, they automatically lose it if they are not re-elected. Reports show that some sentences for corruption convictions could be halved. Guatemala's new government will be sworn in January. Previous votes on legal reforms have generated widespread protests in Guatemala City after lawmakers planned to change the country's penal code system, which would allow alternative sentences for more than 400 crimes.

Powerful 5.5-magnitude earthquake strikes off Puerto San Jose, Escuintla

A powerful 5.5-magnitude earthquake has been recorded off the southern Atlantic coast of Guatemala. According to the US Geological Survey (USGS), the quake's epicentre was several kilometres south-west of Puerto San Jose at a depth of more than 60 kilometres. The National Institute for Seismology, Volcanology, Meteorology and Hydrology of Guatemala (INSIVUMEH) said that the quake struck on Wednesday at around 10:30 local time. No casualties nor damage were initially reported. Authorities have not issued any tsunami warning for the region. Central America has experienced several aftershocks in recent days, especially off the coast of neighbouring El Salvador. Travellers in the region have been advised to follow updates from reliable media and official sources, including Guatemala's National Coordination for Disaster Reduction (CONRED) and the INSIVUMEH.

President Morales's FCN-Nacion to lose legal status

Guatemalan authorities have announced that the registration of President Jimmy Morales's National Convergence Front (FCN-Nacion) will be cancelled due to campaign financing irregularities. In a ruling made public on Tuesday, the FCN-Nacion will lose its status as a legal entity, while the name of the party was subject to a 10-year ban. According to reports, the party received illegal payments from five prominent businessmen. The ruling can still be appealed. If it is upheld, lawmakers that will be sworn into office in January 2020 will be without a party. Since being elected in 2015, President Morales has been accused of violation of campaign financing rules. Guatemala's new attorney general, Maria Consuelo Porras, has said that he could still be implicated in the case.

State of emergency declared in landslide risk areas in Villa Nueva

A state of emergency has been declared in two areas in the central city of Villa Nueva due to risks of landslides. As intense rainfall continues to batter the country and cause widespread damage, the government decree will relocate more than 120 families from risk areas in the colonies of Regalito de Dios and Nueva Esperanza. The 30-day state of emergency was declared in areas with poor water management facilities and clandestine fly-tipping sites. During the current rainy season, landslides and flooding have been widely reported across Guatemala, especially near mountains and volcanoes' slopes.

President-elect Giammattei to sever diplomatic relations with Venezuela

President-elect Alejandro Giammattei has said that he is planning to sever diplomatic relations with the government of Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro. Giammattei will take office in mid-January. He told reporters that he will announce the measure when he takes office, while also launching his support to Venezuela's opposition leader Juan Guaido. He said: “I think it’s the right thing to do. There are other South Americans that will do the same." Giammattei's statement came just after El Salvador's President Nayib Bukele announced a similar measure. Even before taking office, Giammattei's relations with Venezuela are already tense. In mid-October, Giammattei was barred from entering Venezuela after heading to Caracas to meet with Guaido.

US court documents link presidential candidate to plot to kill former AG

A US court has released documents that link former presidential candidate Mario Estrada to a plot to kill Guatemala's former Attorney General Thelma Aldana. A district court in New York has said that Estrada, who is currently detained in the US, plotted with the Mexican-based Sinaloa Cartel to kill Aldana. EFE reported that evidence was collected when undercover officers of the US DEA talked with Estrada over his plans to take Aldana out. Aldana was also a presidential candidate in the last elections held in June.

Several killed as massive landslide hits family home in Huehuetenango

At least 4 people have been killed after torrential rainfall triggered mudslides in south-western Guatemala. According to the emergency services, the incident happened on Wednesday when a massive mudslide hit a family house in the town of Aguacatan, Huehuetenango department. Among the victims are three children. Landslides and flooding have been widely reported across Guatemala, especially near mountains and volcanoes' slopes. According to the National Coordination for Disaster Reduction (CONRED), the departments of Quetzaltenango, Guatemala and San Marcos were also affected.

Intense rainfall causes lahar landslides on Fuego and Santiaguito volcanoes

Intense rainfall in Guatemala has caused lahar landslides in the slopes of the Fuego and Santiaguito volcanos. According to the National Met Institute (INSIVUMEH), moderate landslides have been reported on the Fuego Volcano's slopes, especially near the Seca and Mineral areas. In the Santiaguito, the landslides are mainly heading towards the Cabello de Angel River. Authorities are currently monitoring the situation, which could persist due to inclement weather. People in areas near the Fuego and Santiaguito have been advised to exercise extreme caution and bear in mind that landslides may block some roads.

Several killed in cemetery shooting in Guatemala City

At least six people have been killed and four others severely injured after a shooting erupted at a cemetery in Guatemala City. Local media reported that the incident happened in the La Verbena Cemetery in the city's Zone 7. According to reports, the victims were attending a funeral when they were targeted on Tuesday morning. Authorities are still investigating if the incident was carried out in retaliation. It occurred on the same day that three people were killed in the nearby town of San Juan Sacatepequez. Violence in Guatemala is often linked to clashes involving members of rival street gangs.

Landslides and flooding continue to affect several departments across Guatemala

Landslides and flooding have been reported as intense rainfall continues to batter Guatemala. According to the latest reports of the National Coordination for Disasters Reduction (CONRED), incidents have been reported in Baja Verapaz, Pete, Retalhuleu, Sacatepequez, San Marcos, Solola, Suchitepequez and Guatemala City. CONRED has also confirmed that the lahar mudslides from the Fuego Volcano are also being reported. Authorities confirmed that last week, more than 100,000 people were assisted nationwide. Since the start of the rainy season in May, at least eight people have been killed in Guatemala. 

Judge orders additional prison time to former presidential candidate Sandra Torres

A judge has given former presidential candidate Sandra Torres an additional two months in prison as she is investigated for illegal campaign financing. Torres is the former first lady of President Alvaro Colom and has run for office three times. She was initially detained in September. According to the Public Ministry, she had illegally garnered up to 20m quetzales ($2.5m) to finance her 2019 presidential run. Torres has won the first round of the vote but lost in the runoff to conservative candidate Alejandro Giammattei. She denied any wrongdoing and said that the charges are politically motivated.

Adverse weather may trigger landslides and flooding across Guatemala

Landslides and flooding may affect some regions across Guatemala as a low-pressure system approaches Central America. In the country's Pacific Coast, a current disturbance is expected to turn into a tropical depression within the next few days. Adverse weather may affect areas near rivers and mountains. Special attention should also be paid whilst travelling near volcanoes due to the increasing risks of landslides. According to Guatemala's National Coordination for Disaster Reduction (CONRED), risk areas also include coastal areas along the country's Caribbean coast, where another low-pressure system approaches.

State of emergency extended to Puerto Barrios and Livingston

A state of emergency declared in several departments in northern Guatemala has been extended to the towns of Puerto Barrios and Livingston. Last week, Congress approved a 30-day extension to the current state of emergency in more than 20 towns across five departments. The measure comes as the government is launching operations to dismantle drug labs and drug-trafficking routes. Under the state of emergency, police and military operations across Izabal, Alta Verapaz, El Progreso, Zacapa and Peten departments have intensified. Curfews and access restriction to some areas may be imposed.

Weather-related incidents continue to be reported amid rainy season

Guatemala's National Coordination for Disaster Reduction (CONRED) has said that weather-related incidents are still being reported across the country as heavy rainfall persists in some regions. Flooding and landslides have caused extensive damage across 12 departments. Mudslides are also being frequently reported on the slopes of the Fuego Volcano in southern Guatemala. CONRED forecast that adverse weather may continue to affect the country until at least mid-October. Nearly 200,000 people have already been affected nationwide since the rainy season started in August.

President-elect Giammattei plans to reach open skies deal with Mexico

President-elect Alejandro Giammattei has said that Guatemala is set to reach an "open skies agreement" with Mexico. According to Reuters, Giammateei said during an event in Mexico that he seeks to create a free-trade zone in the Caribbean port town of Livingston. Despite some grievances over recent US pressure concerning a large number of migrant caravans crossing the Mexican border from Guatemala, both countries maintain a strong trade relationship.

Congress approve 30-day extension to current state of emergency

Guatemala's Congress has approved a 30-day extension to the current state of emergency declared in more than 20 towns in northern Guatemala. After a session with Defense Minister Luis Miguel Ralda, lawmakers have agreed to extend the measure, which is currently in place in 22 towns across five departments. The measure was first introduced in mid-September after three soldiers were killed in the Izabal department. Minister Ralda claimed that the military has made significant advances in addressing drug-trafficking in the region. Amid the state of emergency, Interior Minister Enrique Dagenhart had acknowledged that Guatemala has become a cocaine-producer country.

Weather disturbance may bring heavy rainfall to southern Guatemala

A weather disturbance forming off the southern Guatemalan coast is expected to bring intense rainfall to some departments. Reports from the US National Hurricane Center (NHC) show that a low-pressure system is currently moving westwards the southern Mexican coast. Adverse weather is likely to impact most of the Guatemalan Pacific coast until the end of Friday. Landslides and flash flooding are possible in some areas. Heavy rainfall has already caused flooding elsewhere in the country, where thousands were already affected. Inclement weather has been reported since the rainy season kicked off in June.

President Morales rejects UN-led investigation into soldiers' death in Izabal

President Jimmy Morales has rejected a UN-led investigation into the death of three soldiers in Izabal, northern Guatemala. During his speech in the UN 74th General Assembly in New York, President Morales has said that he will not allow the UN Human Rights Office to investigate the incident. He said that the matter is to be dealt with by the public ministry and accused the UN of trying to meddle in Guatemala's domestic affairs. The death of three soldiers in Izabal forced the government to impose a state of emergency across several northern departments in order to tackle drug-trafficking. President Morales's relations with the UN are very turbulent. He had previously engaged in grievances with the UN-backed anti-corruption body, the CICIG.

Young girl dies as adverse weather batters central Guatemala

A two-year-old girl has died as intense rainfall continues to batter Guatemala. According to the National Coordination for Disaster Reduction (CONRED), the victim was found in the central town of Villa Nueva. Reports show that the girl died after a landslide hit her house. The incident happened just a day after another five-year-old was also killed amid adverse weather in the country. In total, seven people have been killed in Guatemala since the rainy season kicked off in June. Flooding and landslides are currently being reported nationwide. Caution is advised when travelling near rivers, hills and volcanoes.

Congress pass legislation to review CICIG cases

Guatemala's Congress has passed legislation to create a parliamentary commission to review previous works of the UN-backed International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG). A commission comprised of five pro-government members of parliament will be in charge of investigating cases of the CICIG, which officially ceased operations in September. Investigations into previous cases handled by the CICIG will be put under scrutiny alongside financial reviews and probes into CICIG officials. The commission is expected to conclude its work in January, just before Alejandro Giammattei is sworn into office. The CICIG mandate has not been renewed by President Jimmy Morales, who has been engaged in political grievances with the anti-corruption body. Giammattei has said that he will not reinstate the CICIG mandate, but will instead launch a domestic mechanism to tackle corruption.

Intense rainfall trigger landslides around Fuego Volcano in southern Guatemala

Intense rainfall has triggered landslides from the slopes of the Fuego Volcano in southern Guatemala. Reports from the Guatemalan Vulcanology Institute (INSIVUMEH) has confirmed that downpours in the region have generated landslides that threatened some villages immediately located near the volcano. The landslides, being described as lahar, have been reported in some areas near the Mineral River. The Fuego is a highly active volcano. Travellers are advised to respect pre-established exclusion zones around it.

Minister acknowledges that Guatemala has become a cocaine-producer country

Interior Minister Enrique Degenhart has acknowledged that Guatemala has become a cocaine-producer country. Degenhart told reporters that the country has shifted from being a transit route for cocaine to a producer country. His remarks were made after claims that the police and the military have dismantled numerous coca plantations and labs in departments where a state of emergency was imposed. The move came after soldiers were killed during an anti-narcotics operation in Izabal. The state of emergency is still in place until early-October in the northern departments of Alta Verapaz, El Progreso, Izabal, Peten and Zacapa. Similar to other Central American countries, Guatemala is considered one of the main transit routes of drugs destined to the US.

Massive drug lab dismantled amid state of emergency in Izabal

A massive drug lab has been dismantled in the northern department of Izabal. According to the military, a joint operation has uncovered a plantation containing around 140,000 coca plants near the Rio Dulce area, where a state of emergency remains in place. Earlier this month, the government declared a 30-day state of emergency in several departments in northern Guatemala to tackle drug-trafficking. The move came after three soldiers were killed during an armed ambush in the rural area of El Estor. In recent months, security forces have dismantled three major drug labs in northern Guatemala.

Large crowds expected to attend independence day celebrations

Large crowds are expected to gather in central Guatemala City ahead of the country's independence day celebrations. Most events are expected to take place on Sunday, but roadblocks and disruption to public transport may begin from Friday morning. Traditionally, thousands of people take to the streets with torches. Events started last week but most disruption is expected over the weekend. Routes that may be affected include major avenues and squares in central Guatemala City. Independence day celebrations are usually peaceful. However, caution is highly advised when heading to crowded areas.

Rights groups call for investigation on death of environmentalist in Suchitepequez

Rights organisations have requested an investigation into the death of Diana Juarez, an environmentalist killed in a suspected drive-by shooting in Suchitepequez. Preliminary reports indicate that Juarez was killed when gunmen opened fire on a church procession in Santo Domingo, south of Mazatenango. Juarez was involved in several environmental projects and to a local religious organisation. A report released in late-July confirmed that the death of environmentalists in Guatemala between 2017 and 2018 have increased five-fold. Most incidents have involved disputes over water and dam projects.

Thousands of soldiers deployed amid state of emergency in northern Guatemala

More than 2,000 soldiers have been deployed to several departments after the Senate approved a state of emergency in northern Guatemala. The move comes after suspected drug-traffickers killed three soldiers in the rural area of El Estor, Izabal. The state of emergency was declared in the provinces of Alta Verapaz, El Progreso, Izabal, Peten and Zacapa. Night-time curfew, checkpoints and random searches will be enforced in some towns while security forces will be given special powers. Besides illegal mining, northern Guatemala is considered one of the main drug-trafficking routes in Central America.

Suspect linked to Mexico's Sinaloa Cartel extradited to the US

A suspect drug-traffickers claimed to be linked to Sinaloa Cartel's Joaquin 'El Chapo' Guzman has been extradited to the US. Byron Ariel Perez Payeras was detained back in February in the town of Villa Canales. According to the government, he was heading towards El Salvador accompanied by a dozen bodyguards. Payeras, alias 'El Komanche', is accused of trafficking drugs to the US. Authorities also confirmed that another drug-trafficker is also being extradited to the US. Julio Cesar Orellana Cordon was detained last year at the La Aurora International Airport after arriving from a trip to Colombia. Similar to other Central American countries, Guatemala is considered a key transit route for drugs from South America. Mexican cartels have a significant influence in Guatemala due to their links to local criminal groups. Mexican-based drug cartels are known to operate along the country’s north-western border.

President Morales declares state of emergency in northern departments

President Jimmy Morales has declared a state of emergency in several towns across five northern departments after three soldiers were killed in Izabal. According to the government, the soldiers were killed while attempting to recover a downed aircraft loaded with drugs. The incident was reported on Tuesday in the rural area of El Estor. The measure comes to enhance measures to tackle drug-trafficking in Guatemala. Similar to its neighbours, the country is known as a transit route between South America and the US. The state of emergency (estado de sitio) was approved in some towns in Izabal, Alta Verapaz, El Progreso, Zacapa and Peten. With the measure, the police and security forces will be given special permission to detain people. Curfews and access restriction to some areas may also be imposed, while protests will also be banned. Northern Guatemala is claimed to be a mineral-rich area where criminal groups widely operate. The measure is expected to be approved in Congress as lawmakers have previously suggested its implementation.

Hundreds affected due to landslides near Guatemala City

More than 1,000 people have been affected after heavy rainfall triggered landslides across southern and central Guatemala. According to the National Coordination for Disaster Reduction (CONRED), more than 100 homes in the town of Santa Cruz suffered severe damage. CONRED confirmed that during the current rainy season more than 370,000 people have already been affected across Guatemala. In total, at least five casualties have been confirmed. People are advised to remain vigilant, especially when travelling to mountainous areas and towns located along rivers. Adverse weather in Guatemala is most frequent during the Atlantic Hurricane Season, which runs between June and November.

Journalists beaten and robbed in Oratorio, Santa Rosa

Two international journalists have been beaten and robbed in a rural area of Oratorio, Santa Rosa. Reports suggest that the journalists were Israeli nationals working for the National Geographic Channel, but this information was not officially confirmed by the network. Local media reported that the victims were targeted on Monday near El Amatillo farm, where the ultra-Orthodox Jewish sect Lev Tahor is based. Guatemala is considered one of the most dangerous countries for journalists in the Americas. Most incidents involve organised crime groups and intimidation from corrupt government officials.

Former presidential candidate Sandra Torres detained for corruption

Former presidential candidate Sandra Torres has been arrested after being accused of violating campaign finance rules. Torres was detained at her house near Guatemala City on Tuesday. According to the Public Ministry (MP), she had illegally garnered up to 20m quetzales ($2.5m) to finance her presidential run. Torres has won the first round of the vote but lost in the runoff to conservative candidate Alejandro Giammattei. She has denied any wrongdoing and said that the charges are politically motivated. Torres, who is the former first lady to President Alvaro Colom, had run for office three times.

UN-backed anti-corruption body to end its mandate

The mandate of the UN-backed International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) will be officially terminated on Tuesday. After nearly 12 years operating in Guatemala, President Jimmy Morales has chosen not to renew the commission's mandate. Guatemala's government and the CICIG have engaged in grievances after the commission investigated President Morales. It has been accused of meddling into Guatemala's domestic affairs after former Attorney General Thelma Aldaba also took part in a probe against the president. As a result, CICIG's president, Ivan Valasquez, was expelled from the country alongside CICIG officials had their visas revoked. The CICIG mandate ends despite multiple challenges on the country's constitutional court.

Intense rainfall triggers landslides and flooding across Guatemala

Intense rainfall and thunderstorms have caused landslides and flooding across Guatemala. Reports from the National Coordination for Disaster Reduction (CONRED) confirm that nearly 64,000 people have already been affected during the current rainy season. Extensive damage has also been reported in some residential areas, while several roads and bridges have been destroyed. Due to mudslides, some rural roads are completely blocked. CONRED has said that at least nine departments have been recently affected. They include Alta Verapaz, Santa Rosa, Zacapa, Suchitepequez, San Marcos, Guatemala, Sacatepequez, Chimaltenango and Solola. CONRED has recommended that people remain vigilant, especially when travelling to mountainous areas and towns located along rivers. Adverse weather in Guatemala is most frequent during the Atlantic Hurricane Season, which runs between June and November.

Guatemala records 12,000 cases of dengue fever in 2019

Guatemala has recorded more than 12,000 cases of dengue fever so far in 2019. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), most cases are of the common type of dengue fever. At least 34 people have been killed across the country after contracting the most severe type of the disease. According to the ministry of health, most cases were confirmed in the departments of Quetzaltenango, Huehuetenango, Izabal, Santa Rosa and Guatemala. Last month, the government declared a red health alert to step up efforts to address the increase in dengue fever cases nationwide. A report from the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) showed that dengue fever cases are also reported in neighbouring Nicaragua, El Salvador and Honduras.

Conservative Alejandro Giammattei wins presidential runoff

Conservative Alejandro Giammattei has won Guatemala's presidential runoff held on Sunday. According to the Supreme Electoral Court (TSE), Giammattei of the centre-right VAMOS garnered nearly 58 percent of the votes against the National Unity of Hope (UNE) of Sandra Torres. Giammattei wins the elections despite Torres winning the first round of voting. TSE confirmed that the turnout was 42.7 percent, nearly 15 percent lower than in the first round. Corruption and criminality have dominated the debate during the vote. Giammattei is an avid critic of the recent immigration deal reached with the US. This was the fourth time that Giamattei ran for office. Giammattei, who will replace President Jimmy Morales, is scheduled to be sworn in on 14 January.

Guatemala to face presidential runoff

Guatemala is set to face its presidential runoff on Sunday, where three-time candidate Sandra Torres faces the conservative Alejandro Giammattei. After a turbulent vote-counting engulfed with fraud allegations, Torres, member of the National Unity of Hope (UNE), was declared the winner of the first round held in mid-June. She garnered 26 percent of the votes against Giammattei, who got 14 percent. Although Torres secured nearly 500,000 votes more than Gimmattei, the advantage may not guarantee her another victory due to Guatemala's historically low turnouts in presidential runoffs. Among the main debates are corruption, the contested role of the UN-backed International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG), high-levels of criminality and immigration - that includes the controversial 'safe third-country' deal with the US. President Jimmy Morales's replacement takes office in mid-January.

Campesino groups stage nationwide strike action

Campesino organisations are set to launch a nationwide strike on Tuesday. Members of the Campesino Development Committee (CODECA) have called a mass demonstration across major cities in Guatemala. Protests have kicked off at 06:00 local time and are expected to last until the end of the day. CODECA has recently announced that they reject the results of the recent elections, where Sandra Torres of the centre-left National Unity of Hope and the conservative Alejandro Giammattei won the first round. Protesters also reject a recent immigration agreement reached between President Jimmy Morales and the US. Demonstrators are expected to gather outside the presidential palace in Guatemala City. Another demonstration is also scheduled for Friday. 

Economy minister implicated in massive corruption scandal

Economy Minister Asciclo Valladares has been implicated in a massive money laundering and corruption network. EFE reported that investigations led by the prosecutor's office and the UN-backed International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) uncovered a corruption network that dates back to the government of President Alvaro Colom and Otto Perez Molina. Valladares is accused of benefiting from commissions paid through off shore accounts in Panama and Belize during the Perez Molina administration. Agreements would mainly involve construction companies that paid bribes to acquire lucrative public contracts. Besides Valladares, several aides to former President Perez Molina and financial operators are also being implicated in the case.

Death of environmentalists increases five-fold in Guatemala

A report published by Global Witness concluded that the killing of land and environmental defenders in Guatemala has risen five-fold. Compared with 2017, when three environmentalists were killed, Global Witness reported that 16 people engaged in the defence of land rights were murdered in 2018. Most incidents have involved long-standing disputes over water and dam projects, which are highly opposed by indigenous communities. The report further raises concerns over state-sponsored repression from the police and the military when suppressing frequent demonstrations against hydropower projects.

Local indigenous leader killed in Livingston, Izabal

A local indigenous leader has been killed while ploughing the fields near his house in Izabal, south-eastern Guatemala. Jorge Juc Cucul was found dead on Thursday morning in the town of Livingston. He was a member of the Campesino Development Committee (CODECA), which is engaged in promoting access to land and protection to indigenous areas across Guatemala. CODECA said that so far this year eight of its members were killed in Guatemala.

US threatens to introduce tariffs in response to migrant deal backtrack

US President Donald Trump has threatened to introduce fees and tariffs against Guatemala over the so-called 'safe third country' agreement. In a post on social media, the US president has criticised his Guatemalan counterpart for not moving forward with previous plans to introduce the deal. President Morales was expected to visit the US earlier this month to discuss the deal, but his visit was postponed. The decision to sign the agreement was rejected in the Guatemala Constitutional Court. The 'safe third country' agreement dictates that migrants would be forced to request asylum in Guatemala instead of the US. In April, the US government cut parts of international aid to Central American countries after they failed to address a wave of US-bound caravans.

Four killed in separate incident in Coatepeque, Quetzaltenango

Four people have been found dead in separate locations across Quetzaltenango, south-western Guatemala. Local media reported that two bodies were found in the area of Nuevo Chuatuj, just moments before another two people were also found dead in Santa Fe. Both areas are located in the town of Coatepeque. Reports suggest that all victims sustained gunshot wounds, while it is unknown if the incidents are linked. Reports suggest that one of the victims is believed to belong to a local gang. High-levels of homicide in Guatemala are mostly attributed to violent disputes between rival street gangs.

Authorities monitor Santiaguito Volcano increased activity

Guatemala's National Coordination for Disaster Reduction (CONRED) is currently monitoring the increased activity of the Santiaguito Volcano near Quetzaltenango, western Guatemala. In a statement released on Wednesday, INSIVUMEH said that at least 36 minor explosions were recorded in the last 24 hours. It is estimated that more than 20,000 people spread across five communities live around the Santiaguito. Ash has been expelled up to 3,100 metres into the atmosphere towards the town o San Marcos. Travellers are advised to follow daily updates from CONRED.

Electoral court confirms presidential runoff candidates after vote recount

Guatemala's Supreme Electoral Court (TSE) has confirmed the results of the first round of the presidential elections held last month. In a news conference on Monday, the TSE has announced that the runoff will be contested between Sandra Torres of the centre-left National Unity of Hope (UNE) and the conservative Alejandro Giammattei. Official results were announced two weeks later due to a complaint of alleged fraud in the electoral process, which forced votes to be recounted. TSE confirmed that Torres got just over 1,1m votes and Giammatei around 609k. The runoff is scheduled for mid-August.

Seasonal heatwave forecast to start in northern Guatemala

A seasonal heatwave in Guatemala is forecast to start from 10 July and expected to affect more than 500,000 people nationwide. According to the National Met Institute (INSIVUMEH), several communities located in the so-called 'dry corridor' will be the most affected. They include the departments of Baja Verapaz, Chimaltenango, Chiquimula, El Progreso, Jalapa, Jutiapa, Sacatepequez and Quiche. Those departments are mainly located in northern Guatemala. Authorities said that parts of the population are particularly vulnerable due to the loss of crops and food shortages during this period.

US missionaries injured in plane crash near Chimaltenango

Two US missionaries have been severely injured after a small plane crashed near Chimaltenango, southern Guatemala. AP reported that the light aircraft was heading from Quiche and was heading towards Guatemala City's International Airport. Both missionaries were members of the US-based Paradise Bound Ministries of Zeeland. It is believed that one of those injured were in Guatemala to fly missionaries to and from small isolated villages in the country.

Health authorities investigate cases of Mayaro fever in San Vicente

Health authorities are investigating more than 20 suspected cases of Mayaro fever in San Vicente, central El Salvador. As part of preventative measures to address a surge in mosquito-borne diseases in the country - including dengue fever, zika and chikungunya - the health ministry said that a new awareness campaign was launched. According to the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO), Mayaro fever mainly affects people exposed to heavy forest areas. Symptoms may include fever, chills, nausea and dizziness. Last month, PAHO published an epidemiological alert over cases of Mayaro fever in Latin America. Currently, there is no vaccination available against Mayaro fever. The best way to prevent is to avoid mosquito bites when travelling to rural areas.

Prosecutors raid TSE offices over alleged voting irregularities

Prosecutors have raided offices of the Supreme Electoral Court (TSE) to investigate allegations of irregularities in the first round of the presidential elections held earlier this month. The TSE has previously agreed to recount the votes cast on all polling stations in Guatemala after several parties claimed that the electoral process was fraudulent and full of irregularities. The vote recount was held last Monday, and although some issues were reported, they have not affected the results. Sandra Torres of the centre-left National Unity of Hope (UNE) came in the first place, followed by Vamos's of conservative candidate Alejandro Giammattei. In a statement, the attorney general's office said that investigations will not affect the run-off vote in mid-August.

Electoral court orders vote recount over fraud allegations

Guatemala's Supreme Electoral Court (TSE) has announced a recount of the votes from last Sunday's presidential election. TSE chief Julio Solorzano said that the recount is expected to be carried out on Monday. He said that all polling stations across 22 departments will be included. The move comes after several parties claimed that the electoral process was fraudulent and full of irregularities. Among the main critics is the People's Liberation Movement (MLP), several opposition parties and President Jimmy Morales, who recently questioned the legitimacy of the TSE. Monitors of the Organisation of American States (OAS) dismissed any irregularities in the process. Vamos's Alejandro Giammattei and Sandra Torres of the National Unity of Hope (UNE) are expected to head to a run-off vote scheduled for 11 August.

Presidential race to head to runoff

Guatemala's highly-contested general elections were held on Sunday amid a tense political atmosphere after several candidates were blocked from running or implicated in criminal probes. Preliminary results released on Monday by the Supreme Electoral Court (TSE) show that Sandra Torres of the National Unity of Hope (UNE) is leading the vote after garnering nearly 25 percent of the votes. In second place comes Vamos's Alejandro Giammattei with 14 percent. In a close third place is the candidate for the Humanist Party, Edmond Mulet. TSE shows that the turnout was just over 56 percent. Around 15 percent of the voters cast a "protest vote". With nearly 90 percent of the votes counted, results suggest a potential runoff between Torres and Giammattei to replace President Jimmy Morales. The second round is scheduled for 11 August. Besides choosing a new president, seats in Congress and local governments were also up for grabs.

Millions head to polls to vote in general elections

Millions of Guatemalans will head to the polls to cast their ballots in the country's general elections. President Jimmy Morales is stepping down and is not running for office due to constitutional term limits. Preliminary polls suggest a large advantage of Sandra Torres, who is running for the third time for office. She is the candidate for the centre-left National Unity of Hope (UNE). Other contenders include Alejandro Giammattei, Roberto Arzu and Edmond Mulet. Estuardo Galdamez is the candidate for the ruling National Convergence Front (FCN). Besides electing a new president, mayors and members of Congress will also be chosen. The vote comes in turbulent and hectic times in Guatemala due to a number of candidates being investigated for corruption and drug-trafficking. It also comes amid rising tensions between the government and the UN anti-corruption body CICIG, which is expected to leave the country.

Local mayor accused of ties to Mexican cartels

A local mayor has been accused of drug trafficking and money laundering for Mexican cartels. Otoniel Lima is the mayor of Nueva Concepcion, a town located in the department of Escuintla on the Pacific coast. The region is known for being a major route of drugs from South America to the US. Lima was expected to run for another term but, due to his alleged involvement in drug trafficking, the electoral court barred his bid. General elections will take place in Guatemala on Sunday, where several politicians were barred from running due to corruption and drug charges. Among them is Mario Estrada, who was recently arrested on US gun and drugs charges.

Electoral crimes prosecutor request leave due to safety concerns

A prosecutor in charge of electoral crimes has requested a three-month leave of absence due to security concerns. In a statement, Attorney General Maria Porras confirmed that Oscar Shaad has requested leave as he fears for his safety and his family's. AP reported that Shaad has already enjoyed from an enhanced security detail. His name has recently appeared in documents of the US DEA as part of gun and drugs investigations against former presidential contender Mario Estrada Orellana, who was arrested back in mid-April. Guatemala is holding its general election on Sunday. The presidential campaign in the country has been highly controversial after a number of contenders were investigated for corruption or suspended from running for office.

Historical Belize-Guatemala territorial dispute sent to ICJ

A historical territorial dispute between Guatemala and Belize have been sent to the UN International Court of Justice (ICJ). The move comes after both countries held a referendum concerning the matter. The dispute dates back to 1859, where Guatemala demands nearly half of Belizean territory. Both countries have said that they will respect the ICJ ruling. A previous ruling was reached in 2002, in which ruled in favour of Belize while granting some benefits to Guatemala. However, Guatemala rejected the proposal. The dispute concerns the 1859 and 1931 treaties that are still valid in Belize.

Thousands affected due to adverse weather in Guatemala

More than 6,000 people have been affected and dozens of houses damaged after heavy rainfall triggered widespread flooding and landslides across Guatemala. According to reports from Guatemala's National Coordination for Disaster Reduction (CONRED), the areas affected included communities in Guatemala City and Quetzaltenango. Nearly 70 people have been injured. Guatemala's rainy season usually lasts between May and October. Alongside the Atlantic Hurricane Season, during this period, landslides and flash flooding become frequent in rural areas across the country.

Weather alerts issued due to heavy rainfall in northern Guatemala

Weather alerts have been issued as intense rainfall is forecast to hit northern Guatemala. According to the National Met Institute (INSIVUMEH), a heavy downpour is forecast to hit the northern departments of Alta Verapaz, Peten and Quiche. Several areas in southern and western Guatemala may also be affected. The most vulnerable communities are those located near rivers, which may burst their banks. Landslides are also possible, especially around mountainous areas and near volcano slopes.

Constitutional Court rejects elections appeal from former attorney general

Guatemala's Constitutional Court has rejected an appeal from presidential candidate Thelma Aldana. Aldana, the country's former top prosecutor, has been barred from running for office after an Electoral Supreme Court (TSE) ruling. She is accused of failing to disclose her financial records. Aldana is the candidate of the Seed Movement. The TSE is yet to announce if she is still eligible to be considered for the presidential race. The former prosecutor has been engaged in political grievances with President Jimmy Morales after she and the UN-backed anti-corruption body, CICIG, opened a corruption investigation against him. The presidential elections are scheduled to take place in mid-June.

Daughter of late-dictator barred from running in presidential elections

Zury Rios Sosa, the daughter of late dictator Jose Efrain Rios Montt, has been barred from running in the presidential elections in June. The constitutional court has ruled that Rios's bid for the Valor party is invalidated due to constitutional grounds. In Guatemala, former presidents and their relatives are not allowed to run for office. Several presidential contenders were already banned from running for office or are being investigated for corruption. The most notorious case concerns Thelma Aldana, a former top prosecutor in Guatemala, who allegedly failed to submit her financial reports - Aldama was Guatemala's general attorney when President Jimmy Morales was being investigated for corruption.

Presidential candidate investigated for links to bribery scheme

A presidential candidate is currently under investigation for alleged corruption. Estuardo Galdamez is being investigated for links to a bribery scheme during the previous Otto Perez administration. Several lawmakers and a cabinet minister are also believed to be involved. Reuters reported that they have been accused of diverting up to $7.5m to more than 60 deputies at the time. The scandal is linked to the former president, who is currently detained alongside his former VP Roxana Baldetti. Investigations are being led by the UN-baked anti-corruption body CICIG, which has been responsible for the removal of President Perez in 2015. Galdamez is running for the National Convergence Front (FCN), the same party of outgoing President Jimmy Morales. Guatemala is holding its presidential elections in June. Galdamez is the second presidential contender to be placed under investigation. Last week, Mario Estrada Orellana was arrested for gun and drug charges in the US.

Several inmates killed during violent prison riot near Guatemala City

At least seven inmates have been killed during a violent riot at a prison near Guatemala City. Local media reported that a violent brawl broke out on Tuesday morning at the Pavon prison. Hundreds of police officers were deployed after inmates took over control of the prison for several hours. Most prisons in Guatemala are said to be understaffed and overcrowded. Reports suggest that the Pavon penitentiary was built to accommodate nearly 1,000 inmates, but at the time of the riot, it was housing nearly four times its capacity. In 2016, the same detention facility faced another violent riot in which 14 inmates were killed.

Nearly 7,000 hectares of land consumed during Guatemala's wildfire season

The National Coordination for Disaster Reduction (CONRED) has confirmed that nearly 7,000 hectares of land were consumed during the current wildfire season in Guatemala. Since December, more than 1,200 fires were reported across the country. Most of them were in rural and forest areas in Peten, Quiche and Huehuetenango. A large number of fires were also reported in urban areas surrounding Guatemala City. According to official sources, more than 25 wildfires are currently active in Guatemala. They are mostly concentrated in the departments of Huehuetenango, Quiché, Quetzaltenango, Retalhuleu, San Marcos and Petén. CONRED forecast that wildfires may continue  to break out until the end of the month, just before the Guatemalan rainy season kicks off in June.

Authorities monitor Fuego Volcano landslides in southern Guatemala

The National Coordination for Disaster Reduction (CONRED) is currently monitoring landslides reported on the slopes of the Fuego Volcano in southern Guatemala. Intense rainfall reported in the region has triggered mudslides - or lahar - that threatened several communities located in the outskirts of the volcano. According to reports, the mudslides reached up to two metres in height and nearly 20 metres in length. CONRED has said that further mudslides could still occur on some of the volcano's unstable slopes. The Fuego Volcano is one of the most active volcanoes in Guatemala. Last June, hundreds were killed after its eruption and subsequent mudslides buried entire villages in Escuintla, Sacatepequez and Chimaltenango. Travellers to the region are advised to follow updates from local authorities and CONRED.

Presidential candidate arrested on gun and drug charges in the US

Presidential candidate Mario Estrada Orellana has been arrested in the US on drug and weapons charges. Estrada was detained in Miami alongside Juan Gonzalez Mayorga, portrayed as a fellow member of the National Change Union (UCN). Manhattan US Attorney Geoffrey Berman said: “As alleged, Estrada and Gonzalez conspired to solicit Sinaloa Cartel money to finance a corrupt scheme to elect Estrada president of Guatemala. In return, the two allegedly promised to assist the cartel in using Guatemalan ports and airports to export tons of cocaine into the U.S.  As further alleged, Estrada and Gonzalez attempted to arrange the assassinations of political rivals". Estrada was a UCN candidate in the elections in June. The US Justice Department said that, if convicted, they may face a maximum term of life imprisonment on both counts.

Former prosecutor claims brief detention at airport in Honduras

Guatemala's former attorney general and presidential candidate Thelma Aldana has claimed that she has been briefly detained at the airport in Honduras. Aldana said on social media that she was briefly held by alleged Honduran officers just after landing in Tegucigalpa. Honduras's Secretary of State has issued a statement on Thursday dismissing the allegations. The Honduran government said that she landed in Tegucigalpa and instantly took a private flight to El Salvador. Aldana is a presidential candidate ahead of the elections in June. She has worked closely with the UN-backed anti-corruption body, CICIG, to uncover a number of corruption scandals involving high-level government officials, including President Jimmy Morales. She currently faces an arrest warrant over embezzlement and tax fraud charges.

Four killed as car falls off ravine in Huehuetenango

Four people have been killed in a road crash in Huehuetenango, north-western Guatemala. Emergency services revealed that the accident happened on Sunday evening when the vehicle drove off a 300-metre-deep ravine. La Prensa Libre reported that the accident happened along the Ruta Nacional 9. Preliminary reports suggest that it was raining and foggy when the accident occurred. Local authorities also said that poor road conditions may also have contributed to the accident. Among the victims was Sally O'Neil, a 62-year-old Irish rights defender based in Honduras. O'Neill was accompanied by a Mexican activist, a woman from Huehuetenango and their driver. They were travelling in the region to visit a local project. Road accidents in Guatemala are common and mainly occur due to reckless driving and poor road conditions.

Supreme Court blocks presidential bid of former attorney general

Guatemala's former top prosecutor, Thelma Aldana, has been barred from running for office after an Electoral Supreme Court (TSE) ruling. TSE judges overwhelmingly voted to block her presidential bid for the opposition Seed Movement as her financial reports sanctioned by the country's comptroller general are expired. With the rule, Aldana is currently blocked of running for office. However, she and her party may appeal to the court decision. Aldana is currently out of the country. She has recently been targeted with an arrest warrant for illegally hiring a lawyer during her time at the public ministry. She is also accused of money laundering and tax fraud. Aldana is a fierce opponent to President Jimmy Morales. She has closely coordinated efforts with the UN-backed anti-corruption body, CICIG, to investigate President Morales.

US cut aid to Central American countries for failing to curb migration

US President Donald Trump has announced that he is cutting aid to El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras due to their inefficiency in tackling migration. A week after another US-bound migrant caravan took off from Central America, President Trump has said that Central American governments are not doing enough to block migrants from heading to the US. He said: "We stopped payment to Honduras, to Guatemala, and to El Salvador. We were paying them tremendous amounts of money, and we're not paying them anymore because they haven't done a thing for us". The US significantly contributes to financing security and development programmes in Central America. Last month, President Trump ordered cuts to military aid to Guatemala after the misuse of resources. Thousands of Central American migrants took part in multiple migrant caravans towards the US. Most are currently in the bordering town of Tijuana, northern Mexico.

Scores killed as lorry ploughs into a crowd in Nahuala, Solola

At least 18 people have been killed and more than a dozen others injured after a lorry ploughed into pedestrians in Solola, western Guatemala. La Prensa Libre reported that the road accident happened on Wednesday evening when semi-trailer lost control along the CA-1 Interamericana Highway near Nahuala. Reports suggest that a large crowd was gathered in the area after a local social leader was killed in another road accident. A fire department spokesman told Al Jazeera that the driver "did not notice the number of the people on the roadway and ran them over". Road accidents in Guatemala are common and mainly occur due to reckless driving and poor road conditions.

Arrest warrant issued to former AG ahead of presidential elections in June

An arrest warrant was issued to Guatemala's former attorney general, Thelma Aldana, who is running for office in the general elections scheduled for June. Aldana is accused of embezzlement and tax fraud as she is being accused of illegally hiring lawyer Gustavo Bonilla during her time in the public ministry. Andana has served as the country's attorney general until 2018. Aldana has served as the country's attorney general until 2018. She was responsible for the arrest of former President Otto Perez Molina and his VP, Roxana Baldetti. She also worked closely to the UN-backed International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG). The arrest warrant came just as Aldana registered to run for president as the candidate of the new-born Seed Movement Party. President Morales is not seeking re-election due to term limits.

US cuts military aid to Guatemala over resources misuse

The US Defense Department has cut military aid to Guatemala due to the alleged misuse of resources. AP reported that a police task force has been accused of wrongly employing armoured vehicles donated by the US government. Actions include their deployment outside the headquarters of the UN-backed anti-corruption body, CICIG, and areas in the outskirts of the US Embassy in Guatemala City. The US significantly contributes to military aid to Guatemala towards fighting organised crime. In January, as a number of US-bound migrant caravans took off from Central America, the US government threatened to cut aid to the country if it fails to enhance border security - aid from the US to Guatemala and other Central American countries has been drastically reduced since US President Donald Trump took office in 2017.

Body found in search for missing British backpacker

Police have recovered a body in the search of Catherine Shaw, a British backpacker reported missing earlier this month in southern Guatemala. According to The Lucie Blackman Trust, a charity helping Shaw's family to locate their daughter, the body was recovered near the town of San Juan La Laguna. Although no formal identifications were carried out, it is believed that it may be Shaw. Shaw was reported missing last week after leaving Hotel Mayachik near Lake Atitlan. During the searches, a jacket believed to belong to Shaw and a puppy were recovered. The body was found near the Nariz del Indio viewpoint. Authorities are still investigating what the circumstances behind the incident are. Shaw had been travelling across the Americas since last September.

British backpacker reported missing in southern Guatemala

A 23-year-old British backpacker has been reported missing in southern Guatemala. Reports revealed that Catherine Shaw was last seen in early-March. She was reportedly staying with a friend in the town of San Pedro, located near the Lake Atitlan, west of Guatemala City. Shaw has been travelling across the Americas since September. In a statement, her parents said: “She has always been really good about keeping in touch and informing us of her whereabouts and activities. So this is unusual behaviour which gives us great concern for her safety".

Prosecutors request immunity removal of socialist presidential candidate

Prosecutors have called for the removal of the political immunity of Sandra Torres Casanova. She is the leader of the left-wing National Unity of Hope (UNE), the same party of former President Alvaro Colon. Casanova is being accused of illegally receiving over $2.5m to finance her 2015 presidential campaign, where she lost to President Jimmy Morales. Investigations were led by a public ministry's special unit, FECI, and the UN-backed CICIG. Casanova denied any wrongdoing and said that the allegations are politically motivated. She claimed that former attorney general, Thelma Aldana, is behind the move - Aldana is also running for president. The presidential election in Guatemala is scheduled for June. Twenty-seven parties are expected to take part in the presidential vote. President Morales is not seeking re-election due to term limits.

Ashfall reported in southern Guatemala over Fuego Volcano activity

Guatemala's National Vulcanology Institute (INSIVUMEH) has reported an increasing activity in the Fuego Volcano in southern Guatemala. Ashfall has been reported in several communities across Alotenango, Antigua Guatemala and Ciudad Vieja. Reports revealed that Fuego's activity forced an unnamed commercial airline to temporarily suspend flights to Guatemala City's La Aurora International Airport. Travellers are advised to stay vigilant and avoid outdoor activities over the potential risk of ash inhalation. For further information, visitors should monitor social media reports from the INSIVUMEH and Guatemala's National Coordinator for Disaster Reduction in Guatemala (CONRED).

Thousands of teachers to stage mass march in Guatemala City

Thousands of teachers are set to take part in a mass demonstration in Guatemala City. Local media reported that protests are set to kick off on Thursday morning in the Zonas 1, 9 and 10. Prensa Libre reported that a group of protesters will gather outside the Guatemala City Mayor's office at Plaza Italia, while a major protest is scheduled to start from the Plaza Obelisco. Demonstrators are expected to march towards the education ministry headquarters on La Reforma Avenue before heading to the Plaza de la Constitucion. Visitors are advised caution and to remain vigilant as some protests in Guatemala tend to turn violent.

Former chief prosecutor submits presidential bid ahead of general elections in June

A former chief prosecutor launched her presidential bid ahead of the Guatemalan general elections in June. Thelma Aldana has been announced as the candidate of the new-born Seed Movement Party. Aldana has served as the country's attorney general until 2018. She was responsible for the arrest of former President Otto Perez Molina and his VP, Roxana Baldetti. Political tensions in Guatemala remain high due to the standoff between President Jimmy Morales and the UN-backed anti-corruption body, CICIG. Earlier in January, Morales's former finance minister, Julio Estrada, announced his presidential bid for the CREO Party, while the ruling FCN-Nacion announced Estuardo Galdamez as their candidate. Twenty-seven parties are expected to take part in the presidential vote. President Morales is not seeking re-election due to term limits.

Thousands of migrants forced to cross Mexican border after clashes in Tecun Uman

Thousands of migrants were forced to cross towards Mexico after clashes broke out in the bordering town of Tecun Uman, south-western Guatemala. EFE reported that more than 3,000 migrants crossed towards Ciudad Hidalgo after hundreds of locals targeted them with sticks and stones. It is estimated that more than 10,000 Central American migrants, mostly from El Salvador and Honduras, are currently camped on both sides of the border while they wait to proceed with their journey towards the US.

Fuego volcano reports increasing levels of activity

Increasing levels of activity have been reported in the Fuego Volcano in southern Guatemala. The National Volcanology Institute (INSIVUMEH) has warned that ash is currently being expelled up to 5,000 metres into the atmosphere, while some small-scale tremors are being felt around nearby villages. Volcanic debris is also being expelled. The Fuego Volcano is highly active and continues to be monitored on a daily basis. In June, more than 200 people were killed after a major eruption. Updates are often provided on social media by the INSIVUMEH and the National Coordinator for Disaster Reduction in Guatemala (CONRED).

Homemade device goes off inside a bus in Guatemala City

At least six people have been injured after a homemade bomb went off inside a bus in Guatemala City. Interior Minister Enrique Dagenhart said that the incident happened on Monday afternoon after a woman threatened the bus driver with an explosive device. Authorities believe that street gangs may be linked to the incident. On previous occasions, gangs engaged in extortion have threatened public transportation companies with explosive devices. One of the most serious incidents was reported back in 2011 when eight people were killed when a bomb went off inside an interurban bus in Guatemala City.

Civil aviation authority expel attorney general's staff from Guatemala City airport

Guatemala's civil aviation authority has expelled members of the money laundering unit of the attorney general's office based at the La Aurora Airport in Guatemala City. The move comes after their officers detained for more than 25 hours an investigator of the UN-backed anti-corruption body, CICIG. The detention happened despite an order from the constitutional court. Guatemala has been facing increasing pressure after President Jimmy Morales ordered the early withdrawal of the CICIG from the country. The money laundering unit at La Aurora was created to tackle organised crime and drug trafficking.

CICIG commits to mandate despite government pressure

The UN-backed anti-corruption body in Guatemala, CICIG, has said that it will continue to operate until the end of its mandate in September. President Jimmy Morales has ordered members of the CICIG to leave the country, but the decision was overturned by the Constitutional Court. CICIG spokesman, Matias Ponce, said that the organisation is still assessing options. The body confirmed that all of its staff already left the country over safety concerns. Ponce said that CICIG's head, Ivan Valasquez, is working on alternatives. The CICIG is accused of meddling into Guatemala's domestic affairs for investigating President Morales.

Constitutional Court blocks government decision to end CICIG mandate

Guatemala's Constitutional Court has blocked the government decision to prematurely end the mandate of the UN-backed International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG). After meeting for nearly eight hours, the court overwhelmingly voted against the decision of President Jimmy Morales. CICIG has stated that all of its staff members have already left the country. Some protests were reported on Wednesday in Guatemala City. President Morales has been engaged in a long-standing row with the CICIG. Such came after the body launched an investigation on him. The CICIG mandate was set to last until September.

Guatemala to withdraw from UN-backed anti-graft commission

Foreign Minister Sandra Jovel has announced that Guatemala is withdrawing from the International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) amid a long-standing row between the government and the UN-backed group. The CICIG was created nearly 11 years ago to fight corruption in Guatemala. In recent months, President Jimmy Morales accused the group of meddling into the country's domestic affairs. The allegations came after President Morales was indicted for illegal campaign funding. The decision to leave the commission comes after a meeting with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and despite a court rule. CICIG officials have been given 24 hours to leave the country. CICIG's mandate was set to last until September. Last year, protests broke out after the government refused to renew the CICIG mandate.

Anti-graft investigator barred from entering the country

An investigator of the UN-backed International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) has been barred from entering the country. Yilen Osorio was detained just after arriving at Guatemala City's La Aurora International Airport. Osorio was barred just days after the government ordered members of the CICIG to leave the country. He was later cleared to enter Guatemala after a court order. CICIG's head, Ivan Velasquez, was also barred from entering Guatemala last month. President Jimmy Morales accuses the CICIG of meddling into the country's domestic affairs. Tensions escalated when the CICIG and the attorney general's office opened an investigation against President Morales for illegal campaign funding.

Journalists detained while reporting on incident in Antigua

Guatemalan media associations have condemned the detention of a local journalist who was covering an incident in Antigua, central Guatemala. DW reported that Pablo Solis was detained when police officers blocked him and several other reporters from covering a fire that broke out on New Year's Eve. Solis was arrested alongside another local journalist, Mynor Caceres, who is barred from leaving the country. 

Massive fire breaks out in commercial area in Antigua Guatemala

A massive fire broke out in a commercial area in central Antigua. Guatemala's National Coordination for Disaster Reduction (CONRED) has said that the fire consumed at least seven commercial buildings along the Calle del Arco. The incident happened while thousands were gathered in the city to celebrate New Year's Eve. No casualties were reported. The causes of the fire are still under investigation.

Members of UN-backed anti-corruption commission ordered to leave Guatemala

President Jimmy Morales has ordered 11 members of the UN-backed International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) to leave the country within 72 hours. Immigration officers were deployed at CICIG offices in Guatemala City to notify those affected. The move comes after their visas and official credentials were revoked. It happens nearly three months after CICIG's President Ivan Velasquez was barred from entering the country. President Morales claims that the CICIG has meddled in Guatemala's domestic affairs after the commission attempted to investigate him for illegal campaign funding.

Members of local indigenous resistance found dead in Ixquisis, Huehuetenango

Two activists have been killed in the in the northern department of Huehuetenango. Neri and Domingo Esteban Pedro were found dead in the microregion of Ixquisis. They were two brothers, part of a local resistance movement to counter mega-projects such as a major hydroelectric plant. Reports suggest that the victims sustained gunshot wounds and a third victim was severely injured in a presumed armed attack. For years, local indigenous communities in Ixquisis have been engaged in disputes to secure indigenous lands from government-sanctioned projects. Rights groups previously reported a number of attacks targeting members of the Ixquisis resistance. Environmental groups in Central America are often pressured to concede land to mega-projects. In neighbouring Honduras, seven people are facing trial for killing the prize-winning environmentalist Berta Caceres, who was opposed to the Agua Zarca dam project in southern Honduras.

Travellers urged to stay away from Fuego Volcano

The National Coordination for Disaster Reduction (CONRED) has recommended that travellers stay away from the slopes of the Fuego Volcano in southern Guatemala. Intense activity has been recently reported on the volcano, which continues under high alert due to successive explosions. Travellers are urged not to climb the volcano. The Fuego is located in the department borders of Chimaltenango, Sacatepequez and Escuintla.

Landslides trigger road closures near Fuego Volcano

Guatemala's National Coordination for Disaster Reduction (CONRED) has announced that the RN-14 highway was preventatively closed due to landslides. CONRED has confirmed that the landslides originated from the slopes of the Fuego Volcano in southern Guatemala. No threat to nearby communities was reported. Authorities stated on Thursday morning that clearing efforts are still ongoing. Activity on the Fuego Volcano significantly reduced in recent days. Travellers are advised to avoid travelling through the RN-14, the main route between Ciudad Vieja and Escuintla.

Fuego Volcano activity significantly reduces in southern Guatemala

Guatemala's National Institute for Volcanology (INSIVUMEH) has confirmed that volcanic activity in the Fuego Volcano has significantly reduced. Ashfall may still affect the nearby communities of Panimache, Porvenir, Morelia, Santa Sofia, Sangre de Cristo, San Pedro Yepocapa and others. The National Coordination for Disaster Reduction (CONRED) has further warned that the volcano is still ejecting pyroclastic flow towards the areas of Seca and Santa Teresa. So far, nearly 4,000 people were evacuated. Travellers are advised to follow updates from CONRED and INSIVUMEH.

Hundreds evacuated due to Fuego Volcano eruption

Hundreds of people have been ordered to evacuate after the Fuego Volcano entered an eruptive phase over the weekend. According to the National Coordination for Disaster Reduction (CONRED), ash has been expelled up to 5,200 metres into the atmosphere, affecting the towns of Panimache, Sangre de Cristo, Santa Sofia and nearby communities. CONRED said that ashfall may also potentially affect Antigua Guatemala and air traffic in the region. Lava and pyroclastic flow have been reported in the western slopes of the volcano. The areas of most risk are Taniluya, Seca, Las Lajas, Ceniza and Honda. A red alert remains in place, while evacuation orders have been issued to some communities around Escuintla, Chimaltenango and Sacatepequez. Travellers are advised to follow daily updates from CONRED and official government sources.

Fuego Volcano triggers traffic restrictions in southern Guatemala

Traffic restrictions have been implemented along the RN-14 highway in southern Guatemala as authorities are currently monitoring activity at the Fuego Volcano. Guatemala's Communication Ministry has stated that police checkpoints have been introduced across several areas of the highway. Latest reports revealed that circulation has been limited from 06:00 to 14:00 local time. Guatemala's National Coordination for Disaster Reduction (CONRED) has informed that the Fuego is reporting several explosions per hour. Villages of Sangre de Cristo, Santa Sofia and Panimache are on alert due to potential ashfall. Travellers are advised to avoid travelling through the RN-14, which is the main route between Ciudad Vieja and Escuintla.

Fuego Volcano records activity increase

Guatemala's National Coordination for Disaster Reduction (CONRED) has recorded increasing levels of activity in the Fuego Volcano in southern Guatemala. CONRED informed on Tuesday afternoon that several explosions were reported, where ash was expelled up to 4,800 metres into the atmosphere. This is the fourth major eruption that the Fuego Volcano suffers this year. Local and regional authorities are currently monitoring further developments. In June, more than 165 people were killed when the Fuego Volcano erupted. Travellers are advised to follow instructions from local authorities and daily updates provided by CONRED.

Japanese missionary killed in Peten

A 26-year-old Japanese woman has been killed during a presumed burglary attempt in Peten, northern Guatemala. According to the Japanese Embassy in Guatemala City, three women were attacked on Sunday at their home in the rural area of El Chal. One of the victims was rushed to hospital after sustaining knife injuries. NHK reported that the victims were in the country as missionaries for the Jehovah's Witness group.

Rights group raises concerns over attacks against social leaders

The Inter-American Commision on Human Rights (IACHR) has raised concerns over the death of human right defenders and social leaders in the country. In a statement published on Wednesday, the rights body of the Organisation of American States (OAS) condemned the death of six rights defenders who have been murdered since June. Previously, the IACHR condemned the death of at least 10 social leaders in the first semester of 2018. Rights defenders, indigenous leaders and environmentalists are often targeted in Guatemala, usually due to disputes over territorial claims. 

Lawmakers discuss bill to ban political criticism in Guatemala

Lawmakers of the ruling National Convergence Front (FCN) have proposed a bill to punish people who criticise politicians in Guatemala with prison sentences. Estuardo Galdamez and members of the opposition Citizen's Alliance agreed to discuss reforms to several articles in the Guatemalan penal code system regarding the defamation and criticism of politicians holding public office. Among the penalties are steep fines and up to five years in prison. Reforms to the penal code system have been a controversial issue in Guatemalan politics. Last year, mass protests broke out after lawmakers considered  decriminalising up to 400 crimes, including corruption-related violations.

Former interior minister arrested for extrajudicial killings

Guatemala's former Interior Minister Carlos Vielmann has been arrested alongside several officials who served under the administration of President Oscar Berger - between 2004 and 2008. Investigations were being carried out by the country's prosecutors' office and the UN-backed anti-corruption body, CICIG. Sources told AP that Vielmann is accused of links to the extrajudicial killing of several inmates back in 2005. Such happened during the infamous 'Plan Gavilla', which sought to cover up the killing of inmates who were captured after a violent prison break in Escuintla. 

Migrant killed in violent border clashes in San Marcos

A Central American migrant has been killed after violent clashes broke out in the bordering department of San Marcos. AP reported that hundreds of migrants part of a second migrant caravan clashed with Mexican security forces in their attempt to go through the Tecun Uman border crossing, which leads to the Mexican town of Ciudad Hidalgo. Preliminary reports revealed that the 26-year-old man was killed after being hit by a rubber bullet, allegations that Mexico's Interior Secretary Alfonso Navarrete dismissed. More than 4,000 members of the original migrant caravan are still stationed in the town of Tapanatepec in Oaxaca. Hundreds of Salvadoreans migrants are also reportedly heading towards the Guatemala-Mexican border. Security measures in the area have been reinforced, with significant delays and disruption reported on land border crossings in the region.

Honduran police reinforce border amid migrant caravan row

Honduran authorities have reinforced border security along the Guatemalan border after thousands of people part of a migrant caravan started a US-bound march from San Pedro Sula. EFE reported that the police has erected fortified barricades in the border crossing of Agua Caliente, which has been used as the main route to cross into Guatemala. US President Donald Trump has previously announced to cut aid to Central American countries if they failed to stop the migrant caravan, which is currently crossing through southern Mexico. Travellers should anticipate heavy delays in border crossings between Honduras and Guatemala.

Parliament approve sentence reduction to illicit campaign funding

Guatemala's parliament has overwhelmingly approved a controversial law which significantly reduces sentences for crimes linked to political campaign financing. In a vote held on Thursday, lawmakers voted to reduce sentences to up to five years for those convicted of illegal campaign financing - the previous sentencing was between four and 12 years. Last year, mass protests took to the streets after the government announced a bill to reform the country’s penal code system, which would allow alternative sentences for more than 400 crimes – including some of the crimes Morales was being investigated for. Morales is currently being accused of receiving illicit funds during his 2015 presidential campaign - investigations were blocked in Congress in two occasions. The move comes as the government is engaged in an ongoing row with the UN-backed anti-corruption body, CICIG.

Government revokes work visas to 11 CICIG members

Nearly a dozen members of the UN-backed International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) have had their work visas revoked amid an ongoing row between the anti-corruption body and the government of President Jimmy Morales. This is the latest government measure against the CICIG, which had its chief, Ivan Velasquez, barred from entering the country. For months, the CICIG and the Guatemala public ministry have been facing resistance from the government due to several corruption investigations against senior officials and President Morales.

Hundreds of migrants cross into Guatemala on their way to the US

More than 1,500 Honduran migrants have crossed into Guatemala as part of a march to the US. Reuters reported that hundreds of people from the northern town of San Pedro Sula started the march on Saturday. The US Embassy in Honduras is currently monitoring the situation alongside the Honduran authorities. Organisers refuted claims that migrants were offered false promises. Reports suggest that the group aim to request humanitarian visas at the Mexican border, while the government said that documents would only be granted through consulates. San Pedro Sula has one of the highest levels of criminality in Honduras and Central America, where most crime is linked to street gang violence.

Fuego Volcano records intense activity

Guatemala's National Volcanology Institute (INSUVIMEH) has recorded an increase in activity in the Fuego Volcano in southern Guatemala. According to latest reports, several explosions are occurring hourly, while ash is being expelled up to 4700 metres into the atmosphere. Communities such as Sangre de Cristo, Palo Verde and Panimache are on alert for potential risks lahar, the flow of volcanic debris from Fuego's slopes. Meanwhile, INSUVIMEH confirmed intense activity at the Pacaya Volcano, also located in southern Guatemala. INSUVIMEH has said that restrictions are still being applied on travels to the Mackenney crater at the Pacaya Volcano National Park. CONRED and INSUVIMEH provide daily updates on volcanic activities and weather conditions in Guatemala.

Hundreds affected due to heavy rainfall across Guatemala

Hundreds of people across Guatemala have been affected as heavy rainfall battered the country last week. Guatemala's National Coordination for Disaster Reduction (CONRED) said that the most affected departments are Santa Rosa, Escuintla, Jutiapa, Peten and Quetzaltenango. Landslides and widespread flooding have been reported nationwide as adverse weather is forecast to persist over the next few days. CONRED is currently monitoring two potential low-pressure systems that are approaching Central America from the Atlantic and the Pacific. Updates are provided daily by the US National Hurricane Center (NHC) and CONRED.

Former VP jailed for 15 years

Guatemala's former vice-president, Roxana Baldetti, has been sentenced to 15 years and six months in jail for her role in an embezzlement scheme. Her brother, Mario, was also jailed for 13 years for his involvement in the "Magic Water" scandal. Judge Pablo Xitumul said that Baldetti was the mastermind in the scheme, during which she agreed to pay $18m to an Israeli company to clean up the Amatitlan Lake, which was contaminated. The chemicals used for the clean up were water, salt and chlorine and proved to be completely ineffective. An Israeli businessman and several other Guatemalan officials were also jailed.

Two killed in Guatemala City violence

At least two people have been killed and 10 others wounded in acts of violence across Guatemala City. One man was shot in the Prados de Villa Hermosa neighbourhood, while another shooting was reported in the Boca del Monte area. In San Pedro Ayampuc a woman died of her injuries after unknown gunmen opened fire. Other incidents were recorded in Tierra Nueva and El Porvenir Sauce.

Heavy rains kill 12 across Central America

At least 12 people have been killed after heavy rains battered several countries across Central America. Two children and their mother died when a landslide hit their house in Honduras, while four others died and 7,000 evacuated in the country. Two people died and 10 others were wounded in El Salvador, while one death was recorded in Costa Rica and in Guatemala, a child is missing and feared dead.

Former congressman killed in armed attack in Zacapa

A former congressman has been killed after armed criminals sprayed his vehicle with bullets in Zacapa, south-eastern Guatemala. Public Ministry reports revealed that the victim was shot at least a dozen times in the Buena Vista neighbourhood. Gustavo Echeverria was reportedly visiting his sister when he was attacked. Echeverria's niece was injured during the shooting. The victim was expected to take part in next year's general elections for the centre-right Patriotic Party.

Defense ministry to back court ruling against President Morales

A spokesman for Guatemala's ministry of defence has said that the military will abide by the constitutional court ruling to overturn President Jimmy Morales' decision to expel the head of the UN-backed anti-corruption body, Ivan Velazquez. Oscar Perez told Al Jazeera that "at no point will a Constitutional Court ruling be disobeyed." The statement deals a significant blow to the government, which has also been engaged in a row with the attorney general's office and the constitutional court. Most recently, President Morales refused to renew the CICIG's mandate that ends in 2019.

Seven inmates killed in prison riot near Guatemala City

At least seven inmates have been killed after a riot broke out at a maximum security prison in Fraijanes, south of Guatemala City. Prensa Libre reported that the inmates died after being shot at in an isolated area of the Pavoncito detention facility. Prison riots sporadically occur in Guatemala and are usually driven by rival factions at overcrowded facilities. In April, several inmates were killed when a riot erupted at a prison in Escuintla.

Court acquits former intelligence chief of genocide

A court in Guatemala City has acquitted a former intelligence chief of genocide and human rights violations. Rt General Jose Mauricio Rodriguez was being investigated for the death of more than 1,700 people back in 1982, during the ruling of late dictator Efrain Rios Montt. The court said that after analysing 600 documents and nearly 70 testimonials, there was no evidence that Rodriguez ordered or had knowledge of the killings. It is estimated that more than 200,000 indigenous Mayan civilians were killed during the 36-year-long conflict which ended in 1996.

Several communities affected by ashfall from Fuego Volcano

The National Volcanology Institute (INSIVUMEH) has reported an intense activity on the Fuego Volcano in southern Guatemala. According to a report published on Monday, gas and ash were expelled up to 4,400 metres into the atmosphere. Ashfall was reported across communities located west of the volcano, such as Sangre de Cristo, Palo Verde and Yepocapa. The National Coordination for Disaster Reduction (CONRED) advised people to avoid areas near the hills and the volcano's slopes due to the risk of mudslides. Such risks significantly increase during the rainy season, which lasts until October.

Indigenous activist shot dead in Nebaj, El Quiche

An indigenous rights activist has been shot dead in El Quiche, northern Guatemala. Juana Ramirez Santiago was the leader of an indigenous organisation that aided women in Nebaj. Prensa Libre reported that Santiago was killed while crossing a bridge in the area known as Xonalay. Santiago's death comes months after another campesino leader was killed after being kidnapped in Nebaj. More than 20 activists were reportedly killed in Guatemala during 2018. Most victims are claimed to be indigenous and rural leaders who oppose land evictions, logging and mining projects.

Thousands take part in fresh protest to support UN anti-graft body

Thousands of protesters took to the streets nationwide to call for the resignation of government officials and President Jimmy Morales amid a long-standing political row involving the UN-backed anti-graft commission, the CICIG. Demonstrators marched in Guatemala City and small villages across the country in a fresh protest against the government decision to counter CICIG operations in Guatemala. The protest comes after President Morales defied a court ruling that allowed CICIG's chief, Ivan Velasquez, to return to the country - meanwhile, the UN nominated a deputy chief.

UN to send anti-graft deputy amid CICIG row

The UN has refused to replace the head of its International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG), Ivan Velasquez, as President Jimmy Morales continue to resist his return. President Morales has barred Velasquez from entering the country amid an ongoing row involving the government, the CICIG and the public ministry. On Sunday, the Constitutional Court has ruled in favour of Velasquez's return, but the decision was not adopted by the government. In a letter to President Morales, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said that he backs Velasquez and that he will send a deputy until matters are resolved. Earlier this month, the government said that it would not renew the CICIG mandate in 2019.

Former presidential candidate detained by the FBI in Miami

US law enforcement agents have detained a former Guatemalan presidential candidate for links to corruption. Manuel Baldizon was detained by the FBI over allegations of money laundering and conspiracy involving the Brazilian construction conglomerate Odebrecht. Investigations are being launched by the Guatemalan Public Ministry (MP) and the UN-backed International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala. He has been arrested at a migration facility in Miami since January, when he reportedly attempted to enter the US with an expired visa. Baldizon ran for president in 2011 and 2015. He was scrutinised back then after the suspicious financing of both his presidential campaigns.

Constitutional Court orders return of UN-backed anti-corruption chief

Guatemala's Constitutional Court has ordered the head of the UN-backed anti-corruption body, CICIG, to return to the country. The top court has ruled on Sunday to overturn President Jimmy Morales's move to bar Ivan Velasquez from entering the country. Velasquez has been engaged in a political crossroads with the government after launching a corruption investigation into Morales's 2015 presidential campaign. Morales claims that Velasquez poses a public security risk to the country and accused the CICIG of meddling in domestic affairs. For days, protesters have taken to the streets of Guatemala City to protest the government decision to not renew the CICIG mandate, which is set to expire in 2019.

Mass protests may occur during Guatemala's independence day

Mass protests are expected to take place in Guatemala City on Saturday as thousands are expected to take to the streets to commemorate Guatemala's independence day. Security measures around the Congress building have been heightened, while several official ceremonies are scheduled to occur across the capital. Similar to previous years, anti-government protests are likely to occur. Such will come amid ongoing demonstrations led by social, campesino and indigenous groups that are protesting since Monday to support the UN-backed anti-corruption body CICIG. Visitors are advised to avoid large gatherings and to remain vigilant as protests may turn violent.

Hundreds protest to support UN anti-corruption body

Campesino and indigenous groups alongside social entities have engaged in the second day of protests to support the UN-backed International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG). Hundreds of demonstrators took to the streets on Monday and blocked the main Interamerican Highway in Solola, southern Guatemala. The protest came months after President Morales announced the end of the CICIG mandate in 2019. On several occasions, the CICIG and the Attorney General's Office attempted to remove Morales' political immunity so he can be tried for corruption. 

Court calls for clarification over ban to UN anti-corruption chief

The Constitutional Court has requested clarifications from the government of President Jimmy Morales after the head of the UN-backed International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG), Ivan Velasquez, was denied entry into the country. Velasquez has been engaged in a row with Morales since the country’s attorney general, alongside Velazquez, opened a corruption probe against the president. Last week, Morales requested the UN to send a replacement to Velasquez and announced plans to end the CCIG mandate in Guatemala.

Thousands march against abortion in Guatemala

Thousands of people joined protests against abortion in Guatemala on Sunday. "No to abortion, yes to life" chanted the protesters as they marched from the Civic Centre the Plaza de la Constitucion. The event was organised by Christian groups and several of the speakers were members of the clergy.

Fire at substation causes power cuts in Quetzaltenango

A fire at an electrical substation has led to power shortages in Quetzaltenango. Around half of the city suffered outages due to the blaze. The National Institute of Electrification (INDE) apologised to the public and said engineers were working to resolve the issue.

Fuego Volcano reports activity increase in southern Guatemala

Guatemala's volcanology institute, Insivumeh, has reported increasing activity in the Fuego Volcano in southern Guatemala. Insivumeh revealed that six explosions are being reported every hour and that ash has been expelled up to 5,000 metres into the atmosphere. The region is still recovering from the damages that a powerful eruption earlier in the year caused in surrounding villages. 

Authorities warn for landslides around Fuego Volcano

Guatemala's National Volcanology Institute (INSIVUMEH) has confirmed that heavy rainfall continues to trigger mudslides, or lahars, from the slopes of the Fuego Volcano in southern Guatemala. In the latest report released on Tuesday, authorities said that trees and large boulders are still being dragged down from the volcano. Furthermore, a strong scent of sulphur is also being reported. People in communities located near the volcano are advised to remain vigilant and follow local authorities' recommendations. INSIVUMEH and CONRED often publish up-to-date information.

Hundreds of taxi drivers stage protest in Guatemala City

Hundreds of taxi drivers staged a protest across Guatemala City to demand the government to enforce regulations on app-hailing taxi services in the capital. Demonstrators slowly drove along major routes in Guatemala City towards central neighbourhoods to stage a protest on Monday. Transmetro services were temporarily suspended, while some routes faced disruptions. Protests against services such as Uber and Cabify became common in Latin America as traditional taxi drivers claim that they are imposed with stricter regulations compared with app-based drivers.

Highway 14 in southern Guatemala reopened after Fuego Volcano eruption

The US Embassy in Guatemala City has confirmed that the RN14 highway in southern Guatemala has reopened. The road was closed since the Fuego Volcano erupted in early-June. The RN14 is the main road between Alotenango and Escuintla. Guatemala's National Coordinator for Disaster Reduction (CONRED) has urged people to remain vigilant and cautious when driving along the RN14. Most risks are associated with landslides - the risk significantly increases until the end of the rainy season in October - and urged people to only travel through the route if extremely necessary. Emergency services are still working to recover surrounding villages, where hundreds of people are still in shelters across Escuintla.

Supreme Court sends President Morales's indictment to Congress

Guatemala's Supreme Court has decided to send to Congress the indictment against President Jimmy Morales, whose 2015 campaign is accused of financial irregularities. The ruling comes nearly two weeks after the UN-backed International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala and the public ministry requested the removal of his political immunity. Morales is accused of receiving the equivalent to one million dollars from anonymous donors - those donations were not registered. Morales has already survived two votes in Congress after other corruption allegations emerged last year.

Floods affect hundreds across Moyuta, Jutiapa

More than 420 people have been affected when widespread flooding hit several villages in Moyuta, Jutiapa, south-eastern Guatemala. According to local emergency services, floods are expected to continue in the next few days. Flood waters hit the region when tidal waves affected some areas along the southern Pacific coast. Travellers are advised caution and to follow local authorities recommendations. Rough sea conditions are expected to continue.

Prosecutors request removal of President Morales' immunity

Prosecutors and the UN-backed International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) have requested the removal of President Jimmy Morales' political immunity. Morales is being accused of receiving more than $1m to finance his 2016 presidential campaign. This is the third time that Guatemala's chief prosecutor, Maria Consuelo Porras, and the CICIG call for Morales' immunity to be lifted.

Security beefed up due to gang violence in Guatemala City

The US State Department has announced that security measures across major Guatemalan cities have been reinforced due to a potential outbreak of gang-related activity during August. Checkpoints, traffic stops and vehicle searches are expected to be especially increased around Guatemala City. Although gang-related crimes rarely affect visitors, they may be collaterally affected. Travellers are advised to exercise caution and to remain vigilant.

Several villages evacuated due to mudslides at Fuego Volcano

Several villages surrounding central Guatemala's Fuego Volcano have been evacuated after heavy rainfall triggered mudslides. Emergency crews working at the scene were also forced to evacuate the area. The National Coordinator for Disaster Reduction (CONRED) has said that with rainfall, the risks of lahar - large boulders and debris - hitting areas near the volcano's slopes significantly increase. So far, 165 people were killed and more than 260 others remain missing since the Fuego erupted in early-June.

Indigenous leader found dead after abduction in El Quiche

A local indigenous social leader has been found dead a day after she was kidnapped in El Quiche department, northern Guatemala. EFE reported that Juana Raymundo's body was found with signs of torture near a river in Nebaj. She was a member of the youth movement of the Campesino Development Committee (Codeca). Seven rights activists were killed in Guatemala in 2018, most of them members of local rural communities.

Shots fired at vehicle carrying US Embassy official in San Vicente Pacaya

A vehicle carrying a US embassy official was targeted in a gun attack in southern Guatemala. According to the police, the vehicle was attacked while passing through the city of San Vicente Pacaya on Sunday evening. A US Embassy spokesman told Reuters that: "It seems the incident did not have a political motivation, nor was it directed at the embassy." No injuries were reported. The incident occurred as residents were pursuing a perpetrator of a crime recently committed in the town.

Authorities report activity increase on Pacaya Volcano, Escuintla

The National Volcanology Institute, INSIVUMEH, has reported a new lava flow from the Pacaya Volcano in Escuintla, southern Guatemala. In a statement released on Monday, it says that the recent activity has also generated small landslides along the north-western area of the crater. Travellers camping or visiting the Pacaya National Park are advised to take caution and to follow local authorities' recommendations.

Police investigate death of social leader in Santa Rosa

Guatemalan authorities are investigating the death of a social leader in Santa Rosa, southern Guatemala. Angel Estuardo Quevedo was found dead with six gunshot wounds on a road in the rural area of Santa Rosa de Lima. Quevedo was part of the Pacific Resistance Casillas, a group opposed to the San Rafael mining project, which had its license suspended last year after a Supreme Court ruling.

Authorities confirm intensification of Fuego Volcano's activity

Guatemala's National Coordinator for Disaster Reduction (CONRED) has announced on Tuesday that activity in the Fuego Volcano has intensified. Reports revealed that ash was expelled up to 5,000 metres into the atmosphere after a number of explosions during the afternoon. CONRED said that ashfall is currently affecting communities in Yepocapa, Chimaltenango department. Some areas surrounding the volcano are still recovering after more than 110 people were killed when the Fuego erupted in early-June.

Authorities recover further 18 bodies near Fuego Volcano

Guatemalan authorities have announced that a further 18 bodies have been recovered in the areas affected by the eruption of the Fuego Volcano in southern Guatemala. More than 100 people are believed to be dead and over 300 others are still missing after the Fuego erupted in early-June. According to Guatemala's National Coordinator for Disaster Reduction (CONRED), more than 12,000 people have been evacuated while more than 1,7m were affected. Some areas around the volcano are still under alert as heavy rainfall may trigger mudslides and flash floods.

Authorities report on missing people after Fuego Volcano eruption

Guatemala's National Coordinator for Disaster Reduction (CONRED) has reported that more than 330 people are still missing after the Fuego Volcano eruption in early-June. The number has been raised from the 200 previously reported. CONRED also confirmed that 113 people were killed, while hundreds of villages surrounding the volcano have been declared uninhabitable and at high risk. The risks are further increased in areas near mountains and slopes, which may face landslides during the current rainy season.

State of emergency extended in departments affected by Fuego Volcano

Guatemala's government has announced a 30-day extension to the current state of emergency in the departments affected by the eruption of the Fuego Volcano. According to officials, the measure is being implemented as some areas across Escuintla, Sacatepequez and Chimaltenango are still recovering. More than 110 people were killed after entire villages were buried when the Fuego Volcano erupted in early-June. Areas surrounding the volcano continue under alert due to potential risks associated with mudslides, which are significantly increased during the current rainy season.

Heavy rainfall triggers mudflows around Volcano de Fuego

Heavy rainfall has triggered a number of mudflows - or lahar - across villages located around the Volcano de Fuego in southern Guatemala. The villages of El Jute and Las Lajas have been warned as heavy rainfall may push massive boulders, tree trunks and debris towards communities located around the volcano’s slopes. Areas around the Volcano de Fuego continue to be at risk despite recovery efforts launched after the volcano's deadly eruption in early-June.

Risks surrounding Volcano de Fuego remain high

Eight bodies have been recovered as the emergency services continue to locate victims of the eruption of the Volcano de Fuego in southern Guatemala. Authorities have confirmed that despite recent operations, rescue efforts will be temporarily halted as further risks in the area remain high. It is estimated that more than 110 people were killed and 200 others remain missing after the volcano first erupted in early-June. More than 3,000 people were evacuated and more than 1.7 million people were affected overall. The authorities have confirmed that the risk of another eruption is high, but it is almost impossible to predict when it may occur. Further risks are also being generated due to landslides triggered by the country's rainy season.

Several students killed as bus drives off a cliff in San Marcos

At least eight people have been killed and dozens of others were injured when a bus drove off a cliff in San Marcos, western Guatemala. Regional authorities confirmed that the accident happened on Thursday afternoon near the village of La Libertad Balchetre in San Miguel Ixtahuacan. Reports suggest that the vehicle was transporting students to take part in a local sports event. Bus accidents in Guatemala are common and mainly caused by reckless driving or poorly maintained vehicles.

Travel warning issued as Fuego eruption continues

The US government has issued a travel warning as the eruption of Fuego volcano continues in Guatemala. Winds have changes to push the towering plume of hot ash and gas in the direction of Chimaltenango, spreading volcanic debris further afield and causing significant travel disruption. The warning advises against unnecessary travel to Chimmaltenango. 

Authorities issue renewed warning over Volcano de Fuego activity

Guatemalan authorities have issued a warning on Thursday for potential risks related to the renewed emission of pyroclastic flow - a fast-moving current of volcanic matter and hot gas - which may create massive ash clouds in the south-eastern areas of the Volcano de Fuego. Rescue efforts have been recently suspended due to hazardous surfaces and the risk of mudslides triggered by heavy rainfall. The National Highway 14 between Antigua and Escuintla is currently closed. Authorities confirmed that 109 people were killed and nearly 200 others are still reported missing. 

Fresh evacuation orders issued due to Fuego Volcano's activity increase

Residents living around the Fuego Volcano in southern Guatemala were ordered to evacuate in response to an increase in volcanic activity detected on Tuesday. Thousands were forced to leave their houses after authorities warned that debris may fall in areas surrounding the volcano. At least 190 people are still missing as the death toll reaches 75. People have also been warned of the risk of mudflows triggered by rainfall. Airlines have been warned as air traffic in the region may be impacted due to ash clouds reaching up to 6,000 metres high. Although Guatemala City's La Aurora International Airport (GUA) continues to operate with minor delays, travel disruption may still impact some of its operations in the coming days.

Fuego Volcano death toll reaches 99 as search operations continue

Guatemalan officials have confirmed that the death toll of the Fuego Volcano eruption has risen to 99, while scores are still being reported missing. Thousands of people have been taken to temporary shelters. Guatemala's National Coordination for Disaster Reduction (CONRED) reported that more than 1.7m people were already affected and has also stated that a red alert remains in place due to ash fall across the southern department of Escuintla, Chimalteango and Sacatepequez. Guatemala City's La Aurora International Airport (GUA) has since reopened. Despite evidence of activity decreasing, people have been advised caution due to potential mudslides and fall of debris from the volcano's slopes.

Dozens killed as Fuego Volcano suffers powerful eruption

At least 25 people have been killed and more than 100 others were injured when Guatelama's Fuego Volcano recorded a powerful eruption on Sunday morning. Members of the National Coordination for Disaster Reduction (CONRED) have advised people in the region surrounding the volcano to wear face masks to avoid the inhalation of ash. CONRED expects that more than one million people were overall affected by the eruption. Ash has reached up to 10,000 metres into the atmosphere, triggering a state of emergency in the departments of Sacatepequez, Escuintla and Chimaltenango. One of the areas most affected was the village of El Rodeo, where some parts were completely buried. As of Monday morning, Guatemala City's La Aurora International Airport (GUA) was closed as the emergency services clear ash from the landing strips.

Court halts expulsion of Swedish ambassador

Guatemala's Constitutional Court has blocked President Jimmy Morales's request to expel the Swedish ambassador from the country. In a court ruling on Tuesday, it stated that the government should follow international procedures. Ambassador Anders Kompass has been accused of meddling in the country's domestic affair after Sweden announced support for the UN-backed anti-corruption body, CICIG, which already accused President Jimmy Morales of corruption.

Thousands affected as Guatemala's rainy season starts

More than 30,000 people have been affected as heavy rainfall battered the whole Guatemalan territory last week. According to the country's Disaster Reduction Coordination (CONRED), a landslide killed one person in the town of Sansare. Evacuations and damages to houses and infrastructures were also reported across the country. Guatemala's rainy season usually runs from May until October.

Outgoing chief prosecutor reveals details on President Morales probe

The outgoing chief prosecutor, Thelma Aldana, revealed on Monday further details in the corruption probe involving President Jimmy Morales. As Aldana is set to step down due to the end of her four-year term, she said that a number of businesses are being investigated for anonymously funnelling money to the National Convergence Front, when President Morales was the party's secretary-general. She suggested the beginning of a hearing to remove his presidential immunity, but the decision to proceed will be at her successor's - Maria Consuelo Porras Argueta - discretion.

Heavy rainfall triggers landslides and floods across Guatemala

Several roads nationwide have been blocked after heavy rainfall triggered landslides and flooding. Major roads across Antigua Guatemala, Jocotenango and Sacatepequez were flooded. Caution has been advised as several landslides have been reported across the country, especially in mountainous regions and across some urban areas. Landslides and widespread flooding tend to become common during the Guatemalan rainy season, which usually lasts from May until October.

Indigenous leader killed in Coban, Alta Verapaz

An indigenous leader has been killed during an armed attack in Alta Verapaz, central Guatemala. Local media reported that Mateo Chaman Paau was killed on Sunday in the village of San Juan Los Tres Rios, Coban. Chaman's death happened in the same week that another two other social leaders were murdered. 

Campesino leaders killed in Jalapa and Alta Verapaz

A 54-year-old campesino leader has been shot dead after gunmen raided a store in Jalapa, south-eastern Guatemala. Luis Arturo Marroquin was the leader of a Campesino committee, Codeca. According to the police, Marroquin was killed in the town of San Luis Jilotepeque. Marroquin's death came a day before another campesino leader, Jose Can Xol, was killed in the northern community of Choctun Basila, Alta Verapaz department.

Foreign ambassadors accused of meddling in domestic affairs

The government has requested that the Swedish and Venezuelan ambassadors leave the country over allegations of their interference in the country's internal affairs. Sweden's diplomat, Anders Kompass, is a known Rights defender. The move came after Sweden announced support for the UN-backed anti-corruption body, CICIG, which already accused President Jimmy Morales of corruption. Venezuela's Elena Alicia Salcedo was also ordered to be withdrawn. Guatemala's foreign ministry confirmed that no more expulsions will follow.

President Morales nominates new chief prosecutor

President Jimmy Morales has nominated Maria Porras Argueta to take over as the country's chief prosecutor. Porras Argueta is replacing Thelma Aldana, who is stepping down due to the end of her four-year term. She will be responsible for a number of corruption probes which engulfed the Morales administration in recent months, which include two probes involving the president himself. Porras Argueta is also set to cooperate with the UN anti-corruption body, CICIG, which has been under fire after its chief, Ivan Velasquez, opened graft investigations against President Morales.

Authorities monitoring activity increase of Pacaya Volcano, Escuintla

The National Coordinator for Disaster Reduction (CONRED) has announced an activity increase at the Pacaya Volcano in Escuintla, southern Guatemala. Volcanic eruptions intensified as significant amounts of lava continue to be expelled up to 50 metres into the atmosphere. CONRED is closely monitoring the volcano, which experienced its latest significant activity increase back in 2015.

Four women killed in armed attack near Guatemala City

Four women have been killed after armed men targeted a bus stop in Villa Nueva, on the outskirts of Guatemala City. Local media reported that the victims were waiting for a bus in the El Bucaro colony when assailants opened fire from a moving vehicle. An eight-year-old boy was also injured in the attack. Preliminary reports suggest that the attack was a retaliation from the Barrio 18 gang after criminals linked to its rivals, the Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13), killed one of its members.

Several inmates killed in violent prison riot in Escuintla

At least seven people have been killed and more than 20 others were injured when a prison riot broke out in Escuintla, southern Guatemala. Police officers were deployed to the Canada rehabilitation facility on Thursday evening when rival inmates engaged in violent clashes. The prison is located in the rural area of Escuintla and was reportedly overcrowded - it was built to house 600 inmates instead of the current 3,000.

Thousands stage anti-government protest across Guatemala City

Thousands of protesters took to the streets of Guatemala City to demand the resignation of President Jimmy Morales. Demonstrators backed by a number of campesino associations are set to march on Tuesday afternoon towards Congress and around the capital's Zone 1. Protesters also called for investigations into corrupt politicians and the nomination of an independent public ministry chief. Public transportation across the capital and traffic are expected to be widely disrupted throughout the day.

President Morales faces fresh corruption probe

Prosecutors and the UN International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) have opened a fresh corruption probe linked to financial irregularities to President Jimmy Morales's campaign. Morales is being accused of receiving more than $1m through his National Convergence Front party. Last year, President Morales survived two parliament votes to remove his political immunity amid two other corruption investigations.

Guatemalans vote in historical border-dispute referendum

Guatemalans headed to the polls on Sunday to vote in a referendum to settle a historical border dispute with neighbouring Belize. The vote was set to decide if the matter is to be taken to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in the Netherlands. Preliminary results revealed that the measure was overwhelmingly approved and will head to Congress before further proceedings. For nearly 200 years, both countries have been engulfed in diplomatic tensions due to claims over a large chunk of land in southern Belize.

Alteration of visa status for Venezuelans

On 16 March, the Guatemalan government changed the status of Venezuelan passports from Category A to Category C, meaning that Venezuelan citizens will require a visa to enter the country in accordance with the provisions of the Migration Code.  Up until Friday, there had been no restrictions in place.  The authorities said that the move was to bring the procedures in line with other central American countries.  According to estimates, 5,000 Venezuelans are resident in Guatemala.

Military to be withdrawn from law enforcement activities

President Jimmy Morales has announced on Wednesday that the military will be withdrawn from law enforcement activities. The measure will be implemented on 31 March, when soldiers will be redeployed along critical border areas. The move comes after the military was accused of corruption and involvement in criminal activities.

Several killed in massive vehicle pile-up near Guatemala City

At least six people have been killed when dozens of vehicles collided west of the capital, Guatemala City. The accident happened on Thursday morning along the Ruta Interamericana near Mixco. More than 20 people were injured and rushed to a local hospital. Preliminary reports revealed that a lorry at high-speed crashed into a traffic jam. 

Government seeks to extradite gang-leaders to the US

Guatemala's Interior Minister Enrique Degenhart has announced that the government seeks to extradite to the US a number of detained leaders of notorious gangs, such as the Barrio 18 and Mara Salvatrucha. Degenhart said that the government is in conversations with the FBI to proceed with the move. Meanwhile, President Jimmy Morales requested Congress to consider current gang leaders and their organisations as terrorists.

Former President and ministers detained amid corruption probe

Guatemala's former President Alvaro Colom has been arrested along with 10 other high-level former officials amid corruption investigations during his administration back in 2008. Colom and a number of his ministers have been detained amid a probe linked to a public bus system scheme, which investigated the purchase of 3,000 vehicles. The investigation has been led by the UN International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG), which is currently involved in a row with incumbent President Jimmy Morales.

Police officers detained for links to criminal network

Nine police officers are among dozens of suspects detained for links to a nationwide network dedicated to drug-trafficking and organised crime. Prosecutor Gerson Alegria revealed on Monday that the group known as 'the Moroccans' were known to unlawfully raid residences while posing as police officers. According to AP, the detentions came after a massive surveillance operation that led to nearly 100 raids nationwide.

Cold front affects thousands across northern and central Guatemala

At least six departments nationwide have been impacted as a powerful cold front brings adverse weather conditions to Guatemala. More than 26,000 people have been affected across Izabal, Alta Verapaz, Quiche, Baja Verapaz, Peten and Huehuetenango. Nearly 300 were forced to evacuate and two people remain missing. Meteorology authorities revealed that heavy rainfall is expected in the following days due to the approach of other cold frontal system.

Two reporters found dead at cane field in Suchitepequez

A journalist and a radio station worker have been found dead at a sugar cane field in Suchitepequez, southern Guatemala. Laurent Castillo and Luis De Leon were reported missing on Monday after they failed to return from an assignment. Both were found with gunshot wounds to their heads and with their hands and feet tied at a plantation in Santo Domingo area. Reporters Without Borders considers Guatemala one of the most dangerous countries for journalists in Latin America.

Volcano de Fuego records activity increase

The National Institute of Meteorology (INSIVUMEH) has issued a warning for intense activity at the Fuego Volcano in southern Guatemala. Latest reports revealed that continuous activity is expelling ash up to 5,500 metres into the atmosphere, which is moving westwards to Alotenango, Ciudad Vieja and Antigua Guatemala. Tourists have been advised to avoid approaching and camping in areas surrounding the volcano due to the potential falling of small projectiles.

Heavy rainfall affects thousands in northern and central Guatemala

Thousands of people have been affected as heavy rainfall triggered landslides and flooding across northern and central Guatemala. Since the weekend, more than 250 people were evacuated in Alta Verapaz and Izabal departments, while over 15,000 were affected in Baja Verapaz, Alta Verapaz, Peten, Quiche and Izabal. Heavy rain is expected to continue to affect these regions in the coming days. 

Government seeks to label criminal groups as terrorist organisations

Guatemala's Interior Minister Enrique Degenhart has announced intentions to submit a reform to the country's penal code to Congress in order to label some criminal groups as terrorist organisations. Degenhart said that groups such as the Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) and the Barrio 18 are the main parties responsible for hampering levels of murder nationwide. He also seeks to include both entities in the US Treasury's Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC) to tackle money-laundering. Last year, more than 5,000 murders were reported across Guatemala, most of them attributed to extortion and territorial disputes.

Former defense minister arrested over military grants probe

Guatemala's former defence minister, Williams Mansilla, was detained on Friday for links to a controversial government grant paid to President Jimmy Morales. Prosecutors accuse Mansilla of illicit enrichment and abuse of power after more than $60k was handed to President Morales due to his role as commander of the armed forces. Several other high-level officials within the ministry were also implicated in receiving the monthly subsidy. In October, President Morales survived a Supreme Court vote to strip him of immunity regarding the case - Morales has since agreed to cease receiving the grant.

Four killed and scores injured in road accident in Zacapa

At least four people have been killed and more than 20 others injured in a road accident in Zacapa, south-eastern Guatemala. Local firefighters revealed that a passenger bus and a pick-up truck collided along the Atlantic Highway near Rio Hondo. It remains unclear what caused the accident. This is the second accident in hours involving a bus. Several hours earlier on Wednesday, eight people were killed when a bus plunged into a ravine in Huehuetenango.

Several killed as bus drives into ravine in Huehuetenango

At least eight people have been killed and 15 others were injured when a minibus plunged into a 40-metre-deep ravine in Huehuetenango, western Guatemala. Preliminary reports suggest that the driver lost control of the vehicle as heavy rainfall brought hazardous road conditions in San Pedro Necta. The accident comes a week after scores were injured when a regional bus overturned in Huehuetenango.

Several killed in crime wave across Guatemala City

At least seven people have been killed and four others injured in a wave of armed attacks across Guatemala City. Incidents broke out on Tuesday when five shootings were reported. In Guatemala City's zone 7, a 25-year-old street vendor was shot dead, while a nine-year-old girl who was nearby was collaterally shot and taken to a local hospital. Incidents also happened in Villa Nueva and Villa Canales, in the outskirts of the capital. Local media further reported that three men were killed when armed criminals stormed a liquor store in Chinautla. Crimes targeting local vendors, businesses and transportation companies often occur and are usually linked to gangs involved in extortion.

Two ministers resign in fresh cabinet reshuffle

The president's spokesman has revealed on Tuesday that two ministers have handed in their resignations in an apparent reshuffle of President Jimmy Morales' cabinet. The ministers of economy and social development resigned just a day after the minister of environment and natural resources quit his post. According to government sources, the move seeks to revamp the country's economy and social programmes. Since Morales sworn into office in 2016, seven ministers have left his government. In recent months, Morales was implicated in a massive campaign-funding scandal, but investigations were curbed after the Congress refused twice to lift his political immunity.

Volcano de Fuego records activity increase

Guatemala's Disaster Reduction National Coordination (CONRED) has recorded a significant increase in the activity of the Volcano de Fuego in southern Guatemala. According to a report, a massive ash cloud reaching up to 5,000 metres was recorded on Friday morning. Ashfall has been recorded in the surrounding communities in Chimaltenango, Escuintla and Sacatepéquez departments. CONRED revealed that ashes are expected to spread further towards some areas in San Miguel Duenas, Alotenango and Ciudad Vieja due to strong winds.

Five electrocuted while erecting Christmas tree in San Marcos

Five young municipal workers have been electrocuted while erecting a 10-metre Christmas tree in San Marcos department, south-western Guatemala. The incident happened on Thursday morning at a public park in the bordering town of El Carmen Frontera. According to emergency services, all victims died instantly after being struck with a 13-thousand-volt charge.

Dozens of children infected with Zika virus nationwide

Nearly 50 children have been born with microcephaly - when the baby is born with an abnormal head size - as cases of Zika virus significantly increased across Guatemala. Official data released by the National Epidemiology Centre revealed that more than 450 cases were also reported nationwide since the start of the year. Most cases were reported in Guatemala, Chiquimula, Quetzaltenango, Escuintla, Santa Rosa and Pacifico Sur. Last year, 36 cases of microcephaly were reported in the country. Zika is a mosquito-borne disease, and symptoms may include fever, headache, muscle and joint pain.

Thousands to stage anti-government march in Guatemala City

Thousands of demonstrators are set to take to the streets of Guatemala City in a fresh anti-government march to demand President Jimmy Morales's resignation. Student and social organisations called protesters to march from several points of the city - among them Plaza Italia and the Constitutional Court - towards the Congress on Tuesday morning. Protests are also expected across other major cities. Besides the president's resignation, demonstrators also demand reforms in the Guatemalan electoral system. Morales has been implicated in a number of high-profile corruption scandals, including the alleged illegal financing of his 2015 presidential campaign.

Four telecom employees killed in coordinated attacks

Four employees of the Spanish-based telecom Movistar have been killed in a series of coordinated attacks on local branches in Guatemala City. All incidents happened on Friday across different points of the capital. Stores were gradually re-opened after their operations were preventively suspended over the weekend. It has been reported that the company was targeted by an extortion gang which demanded a payment of 100,000 quetzales ($13,600). Movistar is owned by the telecom giant Telefonica, which widely operates in Latin America. Extortion is common in Guatemala and other countries in the so-called Northern Triangle - which also comprises El Salvador and Honduras. In a 2016 report, it was revealed that an average of 22 cases of extortion were recorded in Guatemala daily.

Rural associations call for nationwide strike

Guatemala's Rural Development Committee (CODECA) has called for a nationwide strike on Tuesday and Wednesday. Roadblocks are set to be erected across Huehuetenango, Totonicapan, Solola, Quiche, Chimaltenango, Quetzaltenango, Retalhuleu, Suchitepequez, El Progreso, Izabal and Alta Verapaz. CODECA and several other workers' organisations demand President Jimmy Morales's resignation along with 158 other lawmakers who are accused of being linked to a massive corruption scandal that recently hit the Guatemalan government.

Warning issued as Volcano de Fuego enters eruptive phase

Emergency services announced on Monday that the Volcano de Fuego in southern Guatemala entered its eleventh eruptive phase. Joint official reports revealed that ashes are been expelled up to 4,800 metres in the atmosphere and also reaching a 12-kilometre radius around its crater. Authorities and officials are currently assessing the full situation of the eruption. Local communities have been advised to use extra caution around the Volcano de Fuego's ravines, while tourists are advised not to camp in the area due to potential fall of debris.

Three killed in bus raid near Guatemala City

Three people have been killed and two others were injured when armed criminals raided a passenger bus in the outskirts of Guatemala City. According to police reports, the criminals targeted the vehicle on the Pacific highway between Amatitlan and Villa Nueva. Attacks targeting public transport in Guatemala are common and are usually carried out by groups linked to extortion.

Heavy rains affect hundreds in western and northern Guatemala

Nearly 1,000 people have been heavily affected as heavy rains hit the country this week. According to the National Coordination for Disaster Reduction (Conred), the areas most affected were the departments in northern and western Guatemala, which include Alta Verapaz, El Progreso, Peten and Quiche. Local rivers across several locations have burst their banks, while a number of local communities are on alert for potential flooding. Most countries in Central America have been heavily affected by a low-pressure weather system stationed along the Caribbean.

Several injured as shootings erupt across Guatemala City

At least five people have been injured after several shootings erupted on Sunday evening in separate areas across Guatemala City. According to emergency services, three people were injured during an incident in the capital's Zona 12. Meanwhile, a 36-year-old man was injured after reacting to a robbery attempt in the Zona 16. Moments later, gunmen opened fire on a 40-year-old man in the Zona 19, where a 19-year-old suspect was detained for the attack.

Police capture notorious gang leader

Police in Guatemala have captured a leader of the notorious Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) street gang. Angel Gabriel Reyes Marroquin, known as Blanco, was wanted in connection with a gun attack on a hospital two months ago, in which seven people were shot dead.  “He is the ‘ranflero’ (head) of the Locos Centrales unit of the Mara Salvatrucha,” said Pablo Castillo, a police spokesman, following the raid in Chimaltenango. In 2014, Reyes was detained in a maximum security prison after facing charges connecting him to the deaths of at least 287 people, but he escaped while attending a medical appointment.

Government revokes visa to UN anti-graft chief

The visa of the chief of the UN-backed International Commision against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG), Ivan Velasquez, has been revoked. Guatemala's Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday that the visa of the Colombian national faces irregularities as its renovation was allegedly not requested through official channels. The CICIG and the government are currently engaged in a feud after Velasquez accused President Jimmy Morales of corruption. In late-August, the Supreme Court suspended a government request to deport Velasquez for meddling in Guatemala's internal affairs.

Thousands affected as heavy rains hit Guatemala

A six-year-old girl has been killed as heavy rains battered Guatemala over the weekend. According to reports released by the National Coordination for Disaster Reduction (Conred), severe weather conditions affected more than 60,000 people across 14 departments. Most incidents were reported in central Guatemala's Alta Verapaz department, where more than 10,000 people were evacuated and nearly 2,000 homes damaged. Conred estimates that 27 people were already killed throughout the Guatemalan rainy season, which usually lasts from April until November. 

Attorney General request new corruption probe on President Morales

Guatemala's Attorney General's office and the UN-backed International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) have requested the opening of renewed corruption investigations against President Jimmy Morales. Both bodies are accusing the president of receiving a $60k military subsidy from the country's ministry of defence, which Morales has previously acknowledged but said no further payments would be received. The accusations now have to pass through Congress, which on two previous occasions overwhelmingly rejected attempts to remove Morales's political immunity.

Heavy rains trigger deadly landslides in Alta Verapaz

Two people have been killed and more than a dozen are missing after massive landslides hit the central department of Alta Verapaz. Emergency services and the Guatemalan army headed to the scene to assist in search operations in Tamahu, where at least eight houses were destroyed and dozens of families evacuated to local shelters. The landslides happened after heavy rains triggered the overflow of a local river. According to the National Coordination for Disaster Reduction (Conred), more than 200,000 people have already been affected during the Guatemalan rainy season.

Volcano de Fuego enters fresh eruptive phase

Guatemala's volcanology institute, INSIVUMEH, has announced on Thursday evening that the Volcano de Fuego entered another eruptive phase. According to reports, ashes were expelled up to 4,500 metres into the air and fell over a number of local communities around Chimaltenango and Escuintla. Further, the INSIVUMEH warned tourists and residents to avoid areas surrounding the volcano due to a potential flow of lava and other projectiles that may be propelled. No evacuation orders were issued as volcanic activity ceased hours later. This is the tenth eruption reported at the Volcano de Fuego in 2017.

President Morales survives second congressional vote

President Jimmy Morales survived a congressional vote after lawmakers refused to lift his political immunity for the second time. Guatemala's Congress launched a renewed vote on Thursday after protests erupted last week when the house overwhelmingly decided to block investigations over a campaign-funding scandal. In the new vote, 70 lawmakers voted in favour - a significant increase from the previous 25 votes - but such numbers fell short of the 105 votes necessary for the recommendation to pass. The vote came one day after thousands of people took to the streets to pressure the Congress and to demand that President Morales resign.

Social groups call for nationwide strike against Morales

Civil and social associations have called for a nationwide strike on Wednesday to demand that President Jimmy Morales step down from office. Morales has recently been implicated by allegations of irregularities in his presidential campaign after the Congress overwhelmingly rejected to lift his immunity in the investigation. Political tensions escalated several days later after lawmakers approved a controversial bill aimed at reforming the Guatemalan penal code, which would include alternative prison sentences for crimes linked to illegal campaign financing. The Congress is set to meet again on Thursday to review the vote and the controversial bill after a wave of protests spread nationwide.

Three key ministers resign after Morales announces review of UN body

President Jimmy Morales has said during his speech at the UN General Assembly in New York that he will request a review into the operations of the UN-backed International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG). After the speech, three key ministers - finance, government and work - have submitted their resignations. Morales's administration has recently been shaken over a row with CICIG's chief Ivan Velasquez, who accused Morales of financial irregularities in his presidential campaign. In August, two other key government officials also resigned after Morales requested that Velaquez leave the country - a decision which was blocked by the Constitutional Court.

Congress vote to amend controversial penal code reforms bill

The Congress voted on Friday to amend a number of topics on the controversial reforms to the Guatemalan penal code. Lawmakers voted to withdraw parts of the new bill which rules the establishment of alternative sentences for more than 400 crimes. The bill suffered heavy popular resistance and was also criticised by international diplomats, including the US Ambassador to Guatemala Todd Robinson. Critics claim that the new legislation came to benefit high-level politicians - including President Jimmy Morales - implicated in irregularities linked to the financing of the 2015 presidential campaign - one of the crimes included in the list.

Disruptions expected ahead of independence day celebrations

Widespread disruption is expected over the weekend across Guatemala City ahead of the country's independence day celebrations. From Friday, hundreds of people are set to gather at the Plaza El Obelisco to take part in the traditional 'Antorcha' run. Dozens of parades are also scheduled to take place nationwide, including massive gatherings at the capital's Plaza de la Constitucion. Meanwhile, demonstrations have been reported outside the Congress, which recently approved penal code reforms.

Hundreds protest against penal code reforms bill

Hundreds of protesters gathered in front of the Congress on Wednesday after legislators approved a contested bill aimed at reforming the Guatemalan penal code. Lawmakers had their activities suspended on Thursday as protests are feared to turn violent. The penal code reforms - which critics labelled as the 'pact for impunity' - are modifications that allow the introduction of alternative sentences to more than 400 crimes. Among the list are crimes linked to irregularities in electoral campaigns, in which President Jimmy Morales and other senior politicians are being investigated by the Guatemalan Attorney General's office.

Hundreds of MS-13 members detained in joint operation

More than 450 criminals, mostly members of the gang Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13), have been arrested in a massive police crackdown across El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala. Local authorities revealed that 14 MS-13 leaders were detained in Tegucigalpa and San Pedro Sula, while 262 were arrested in El Salvador and nearly 180 others across Guatemala. All suspects are accused of links to homicides, drug-trafficking, extortion and money-laundering. Northern Triangle countries, supported by the US, recently engaged in a fight to shut down MS-13 operations.

Congress refuse to lift Morales' political immunity

Guatemala's Congress has voted against a recommendation aimed to lift President Jimmy Morales' immunity from prosecution. Lawmakers decided not to withdraw Morales' immunity amid ongoing investigations regarding a campaign-funding scandal. Morales is being accused of garnering more than $825k in illegal financing for his 2015 presidential campaign. Investigations are linked to the UN anti-corruption body CICIG and the Attorney General's office.

Emergency services deployed after powerful earthquake hit Mexico

the emergency services have been deployed to the Mexican border to assess the damage caused by a powerful 8.1-magnitude earthquake recorded late on Thursday in southern Mexico. It is believed that at least one person has been killed in San Marcos, but such reports are still unconfirmed. President Jimmy Morales said: “We have reports of some damage and the death of one person, even though we still don’t have details". Emergency services said that thousands were affected in Quetzaltenango and Suchitepequez.  The powerful earthquake - which is believed to be the strongest in Mexico since 1985 - was also felt in the capital Guatemala City.

Supreme Court allows investigations to President Morales

Guatemala's Supreme Court has authorised investigations into President Jimmy Morales regarding alleged fraudulent funds directed at his presidential campaign. Investigations were previously requested by the Attorney General's office and the UN-backed International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG). The rule still has to be approved by at least two-thirds of the highly fragmented Congress, which will decide on whether to lift Morales' political immunity. Tensions between the CICIG and the government recently escalated after Morales ordered CICIG's head Ivan Velasquez to leave the country.

Hundreds affected as heavy rains hit northern Guatemala

The National Coordination for Disaster Reduction (Conred) has stated that more than 2,000 people have been affected after heavy rains hit northern and southern Guatemala. In Peten, dozens of houses were damaged in La Libertad and Las Cruces, while in Alta Verapaz flooding affected more than a thousand people. Dozens of families were also affected in the southern department of Suchitepequez. Emergency services were already on alert as September is known for the peak of the Guatemalan rainy season.

Court suspends anti-graft unit chief's deportation

Guatemala's Constitutional Court has suspended the presidential order to deport Ivan Velasquez, the chief of the UN-backed International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG). The move came just hours after President Jimmy Morales declared Velasquez persona non grata and accused him of interference in government affairs. Morales ordered Velasquez to leave the country after the CICIG and the Attorney General's office opened an investigation to Morales and his party for funding irregularities in the 2015 election.

Morales criticised for expulsion of anti-corruption head

Guatemala's President Jimmy Morales has been widely condemned after he declared the UN's anti-corruption chief a persona non grata. Ivan Velasquez, head of the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG), is investigating Morales and his party for funding irregularities in the 2015 election. Eight government officials have resigned and two others have been sacked over the decision to expel Mr Velasquez, while the Constitutional Court also blocked the move.  Thousands of people took to the streets of Guatemala City on Monday to demand the president's resignation.

Government accuses Attorney General of meddling in state affairs

Guatemala's government accused Attorney General (AG) Thelma Aldana of meddling in the country's state affairs after she threatened to resign. The government spokesman, Heinz Heimann, also accused Aldama of attempting to interfere with President Jimmy Morales international agenda. Such allegations came amid rumours that Morales planned to oust Ivan Velasquez as chief of the UN-backed International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG), which - together with the AG - already investigated hundreds of high-level politicians and powerful officials linked to corruption since the body's creation in 2007.

One killed as criminals raid bus in Guatemala City

A 23-year-old bus driver has been shot dead after presumed extortionists stormed a regional passenger bus in Guatemala City. The incident was reported on Tuesday in Maya colony, located on the capital's outskirts. Three minors were also injured during the attack and later rushed to a local hospital. Attacks targeting public transport in Guatemala are common and are usually carried out by groups linked to extortion.

Massive eruption reported at Volcano de Fuego, Guatemala City

A massive eruption has been reported at the Volcano de Fuego located on the outskirts of Guatemala City. Officials have revealed that the volcano has expelled ash up to 6,000 metres into the air, while two streams of lava have also flowed out of the crater. Surrounding communities were put on alert, while emergency services urged touristic agencies to avoid sending travellers to the area. Besides Fuego, the Santiaguito and Pacaya volcanoes - also located near the capital - are also highly active.

Seven killed as criminals raid hospital in Guatemala City

At least seven people have been killed and more than a dozen others were injured when heavily armed criminals stormed a hospital in Guatemala City. Officials said that the assailants raided the Roosevelt Hospital on Wednesday morning to release a prisoner who was undertaking lab tests. Five members of the subversive Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) gang were arrested. President Jimmy Morales said that: “The law doesn’t consider it, but they are acts of terrorism". Most injured were patients and bystanders who were collaterally hit when the shooting broke out.

Four killed in Guatemala City shooting

Four people were killed overnight on Thursday when a shooting broke out in Guatemala City. According to the Red Cross, four men were shot dead and another was injured when a violent shootout erupted in the capital's Martinico area. Local media reported that the Public Ministry recovered nearly 70 high-calibre cartridges from the crime scene. It is still unclear if the attack is linked to criminal gangs.

Health Minister confirms typhoid outbreak in Dolores, Peten

Health Minister Lucrecia Hernandez confirmed on Monday that two people were killed after contracting typhoid in Peten, northern Guatemala. Both victims were reported dead in mid-July, while 58 other cases have also been recorded. The outbreak is believed to have started in Dolores, where officials urged caution to residents and people travelling around Peten. Typhoid is an infection usually spread by contaminated food and water. Symptoms include fever, stomach pains, headaches and weakness.

Several injured in fresh Guatemala City prison riot

At least 16 inmates have been injured when a fresh riot broke out at the Las Gaivotas youth centre in Guatemala City. Preliminary reports suggest that violence erupted when two rival criminal factions clashed on Monday. The incident comes just weeks after two inmates were killed at the overcrowded Las Gaivotas when a protest triggered a violent riot.

Border to be reinforced ahead of religious festivities

The National Police (PNC) will reinforce the border with El Salvador as thousands of people are expected to cross to Guatemala ahead of the religious festivities during August. PNC spokesman Jorge Aguilar told Prensa Libre that the measure comes in order to monitor the transit of criminals with international warrants before they ingress in Guatemala. The operation will take place in conjunction with several agencies, including the INTERPOL. Checkpoints will also be placed on the borders with Honduras and Mexico, along with internal security rings across Guatemala's departments.

Three killed in drive-by shooting in Mixco

At least three people have been killed and two others injured in a drive-by shooting in Mixco, outskirts of Guatemala City. Preliminary reports suggest that armed criminals targeted the victims on the streets of El Milagro on Tuesday evening. Two members of the Barrio 18 gang were arrested moments later, while it remains unclear if the attack was a retaliation linked to another dispute. Mixco and the capital's Metropolitan area present high levels of criminality, mainly fuelled by territorial disputes between rival criminal factions.

Emergency extended amid military operations in San Marcos

The government announced on Monday that the current state of emergency in Ixchiguan and Tajamulco, south-western Guatemala, will be extended for a further 30 days as security risks in the area still persist. This is the second time the state of emergency has been extended. Both areas, located in San Marcos, are under a state of emergency since May after military and police forces were deployed to eradicate illegal crops.

Four bodies recovered on sideroad near Guatemala City

Four people have been found dead along an isolated road on the outskirts of Guatemala City. The bodies were recovered overnight on Tuesday on a road near Canalitos area. Emergency services revealed that the corpses - two men and two women - were tied up and showed signs of being tortured. The motives behind the attack remain unclear. The incident came just hours after two men were killed in a suspected drug-related incident in Retalhuleu, southern Guatemala.

US request former minister extradition over drug charges

The US has requested the immediate extradition of Guatemala's Former Interior Minister Mauricio Lopez Bonilla, who is being accused of guarding and facilitating the transport of cocaine shipments throughout the country. He is linked to former VP Roxanne Baldetti, whose extradition was requested in early-June by a US-based court in Washington DC. Several months ago, both were indicted by a US federal court on drug charges, including the trafficking of several kilos of cocaine into American territory.

Violent riot breaks out at Guatemala City prison

At least two inmates were killed when a prison riot broke out in Guatemala City on Monday. The riot lasted for several hours as inmates submitted a series of demands. National Police officers stormed the Las Gaivotas prison to take control of the situation, moments after a number of inmates attempted to flee the facility. Security in the capital's Zona 13 was reinforced while the Public Ministry investigate the incident, which came days after two inmates were killed in another violent prison riot in Guatemala City.

Strong volcanic activity reported in southern Guatemala

Strong activity has been reported in Guatemala's Fuego and Pacaya volcano in southern Guatemala. Reports also revealed that the Santiaguito volcano, near Quetzaltenango, is also highly active. Such intense activity significantly increases the risk of landslides near volcanic areas, especially during the rainy season - which usually lasts from June to October. The National Coordination for Disaster Risk Reduction (CONRED) has issued a series of recommendations to follow before, during and after potential incidents.

Officials and police officers charged over deadly shelter fire

Three government officials have been charged over the deadly shelter fire that killed dozens of young girls in early March. A Guatemalan court charged with manslaughter and negligence three senior members of social and child agencies. Two police officers are also facing abuse charges. Just months ago, the former minister for social welfare Carlos Rodas was charged along with his deputy and the shelter's director. In early March, 41 girls were killed when an overcrowded government-run Virgen de Asuncion shelter caught on fire during a riot.

Strong 6.8-magnitude earthquake recorded off Escuintla

A powerful 6.8-magnitude earthquake was recorded on Tuesday morning off the Escuintla Pacific coast in southern Guatemala. According to the US Geological Survey, the quake was recorded nearly 38km off Puerto San Jose, with a shallow depth of 10km. Reports also revealed that the quake caused minor damage and was felt in El Salvador. Last week, at least five people were killed when a 6.9-magnitude quake shook San Marcos, near the Mexican border.

Landslide kills 11 in San Pedro Soloma, Huehuetenango

Nearly a dozen people have been killed after intense rains triggered a mudslide in Huehuetenango, south-western Guatemala. The incident happened on Monday in San Pedro Soloma, where several vehicles and houses were buried by the mud. Four people were also injured and dozens have been evacuated from the area. Flooding and landslides are common during the Guatemalan rainy season, which usually lasts until November.

Seven killed and thousands affected during rainy season

The National Coordination for Disaster Reduction (CONRED) announced that seven people have been killed since the Guatemalan rainy season started in May. CONRED said that more than 50,000 people have already been affected - mainly in Jalapa, El Progreso and Izabal. Floods and landslides are common due to weakened soil and rivers overflowing. Weather conditions are expected to deteriorate as a low-pressure system is moving towards the Belizean coast and south-eastern Mexico.

Powerful 6.9-magnitude earthquake shakes San Marcos

At least five people were killed when a powerful 6.9-magnitude earthquake was recorded in the early hours of Wednesday in San Marcos, western Guatemala. The quake was felt across several cities; causing major damages in San Marcos, Suchitepequez, Quetzaltenango and Retalhuleu. At least one 5.6-magnitude aftershock was recorded near the Mexican border. Earthquakes are also relatively common and are occasionally strong enough to cause fatalities.

Strong eruption recorded on Volcano del Fuego, Chimaltenango

A strong eruption has been recorded in the Volcano del Fuego in Chimaltenango, southern Guatemala. Several villages surrounding the volcano, such as Zaragoza and Chimaltenango, were affected by the ashes - which reached up to 4,800 metres in the air. Monitoring services warned over the risk of the volcano's activity together with heavy rains in the region, which has caused a series of debris flowing along local river valleys.

Dozens arrested in anti-extortion crackdown

More than 1,500 police officers raided dozens of addresses across six Guatemalan departments during a massive nationwide crackdown on criminal gangs. Dozens of suspected criminals have been arrested over links to subversive groups involved in extortion schemes. Most of those detained are suspected members of the Barrio 18 gang, known for carrying out attacks targeting taxi drivers and other public transportation companies.

Thousands isolated due to bridge collapse in Quiche

Thousands of people remain isolated after heavy rains caused a bridge to collapse in Quiche, central Guatemala. Residents of San Andres Sajcabaja and 11 other communities were affected after heavy rains triggered the overflow of the Paxeja river. This incident marks the beginning of Guatemala's rainy season, which usually lasts until October.

One killed and three injured in armed attack in Guatemala City

A 35-year-old taxi driver has been shot dead when armed criminals targeted his vehicle in Guatemala City. The incident happened on Thursday evening in the city's Zona 15. The bullets injured a passenger and two others who were passing by the area. Motives for the attack remain unclear; however, street gangs linked to extortion groups are known for systematically targeting public transport companies.

US court requests former VP extradition for drug-trafficking

A US court in Washington DC has requested the extradition of former-Guatemalan VP Roxana Baldetti over links to drug-trafficking. Baldetti, who held the VP office between 2012 and 2015, is being accused along with her former government minister, Héctor Mauricio López Bonilla, of trafficking several kilos of cocaine into the US. Baldetti was arrested in 2015 over corruption charges months after stepping down from office.

Nearly a dozen arrested on massive crackdown in San Marcos

Nearly a dozen people have been arrested after a 20-day state of emergency declared in San Marcos, south-western Guatemala. More than 1,500 soldiers and hundreds of police officers were mobilised on a massive crackdown on illegal drug crops and weapons in Ixchigan and Tajamulco. Both locations are amid an ongoing territorial delimitation dispute, which the government believes to be fuelled with high-calibre weapons provided by Colombian and Mexican cartels. 

Authorities monitoring Storm Adrian off Mexican coast

Emergency authorities issued a warning over potential risks regarding the approach of Tropical Storm Adrian to Central America's eastern Pacific coast. Despite the storm being downgraded to a tropical depression, authorities are closely monitoring Adrian's movement that is placed nearly 440 miles off the Mexican coast. Contingency plans were already announced by Guatemalan authorities that expect the storm to mainly affect Guatemala's south-western region. Some reports suggest that Adrian may head to Guatemala next week, but such tracking remains uncertain.

Police officers and inmate killed in Chimaltenango ambush

Two National Police officers have been killed when five suspected Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) members ambushed their vehicle in Chimaltenango, southern Guatemala. Both officers were taking a Barrio 18 inmate - also killed in the shooting - to a court hearing in the Socobal area. MS-13 and Barrio 18 are the most notorious gangs in Central America and are often engaged in territorial disputes - Chimaltenango is a known MS-13 stronghold.

Man shot dead at children's play area in Guatemala City

A 25-year-old unidentified man has been shot dead in Guatemala City. The man was approached by two armed criminals and got shot five times at a children's play area in the city's north-eastern area. The attack was confirmed by the local fire brigade that initially assisted the victim. It remains unknown the motives for the attack.

Tourists kidnapped from shuttle bus in Antigua Guatemala

A dozen tourists have been briefly kidnapped when armed criminals stormed a shuttle bus between Antigua Guatemala and Leon, Nicaragua. The bus was hijacked overnight on Saturday when armed men ordered its occupants to leave the vehicle, where they were tied and robbed. The incident comes just days after an American couple were targeted in a knife attack in Antigua Guatemala.

Two wildfires revived at natural reserve in Peten

The Emergency Operations Centre (COE) said that two wildfires were reactivated on Monday in Peten, northern Guatemala. COE revealed that the fires were reported around the Laguna del Tigre National Park and near the El Peruito archaeological site. The fires are believed to have been caused by criminals. Peten has been under a 30-day state of emergency due to dozens of active wildfires.

US tourists injured in knife attack in Antigua Guatemala

An American couple has been injured during a robbery attempt in Antigua, southern Guatemala. Criminals armed with knives targeted the tourists near a hotel. A 70-year-old man was injured in the shoulder and his 60-year-old partner sustained wounds in the hand and chest. Both were taken to a local hospital for treatment. Robberies targeting tourists usually occur on the city's isolated streets and neighbourhoods.

Government declares 30-day emergency over wildfires

The Guatemalan government declared a 30-day national emergency on Wednesday due to active wildfires. According to the National Council for Protected Areas (Conap), 16 wildfires remain active in Peten, northern Guatemala, while more than 5,000 hectares of land were burnt, including wildlife reserves, national parks and archeological sites. The authorities believe that the fire was caused by the reckless behaviour of people residing in protected areas.

MS-13 faction leader to be extradited to El Salvador

A massive operation launched by Guatemalan authorities led to the detention of 24 members of the Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13). Among those arrested is Pedro Benjamin Rivas Zelaya - also known as 'Sniper' - the leader of an MS-13 extortion unit. The operation took place across several areas in Mixco, San Jose Pinula and Guatemala City. Sniper is set to be extradited to El Salvador, where he is one of the most wanted men.

Former minister charged over deadly shelter fire

The former minister for social welfare Carlos Rodas was charged by a top prosecutor for the responsibility of the deaths of 41 girls in a fire at a government-run shelter in early-March. Among the charges was included the lack of capability to run the shelter and homicide through negligence. Besides Rodas, his deputy and the shelter's director were also charged.

Two killed as criminals raid bus in Escuintla

Two people have been killed and two others injured when armed criminals stormed a passenger bus in Escuintla, southern Guatemala. The raid happened on Tuesday along the Pacific route. The driver and his assistant were killed, while two other passengers were collaterally injured. Motives for the attack remain unclear; however, extortion groups are known for systematically targeting public transport companies.

A dozen officers attacked by criminals in Guatemala City

Three police officers have been killed and eight others injured in a series of attacks in Guatemala City. Presumed members of the Barrio 18 gang targeted Guatemalan authorities on Monday, just days after a deadly riot broke down at the Etapa II youth prison. A dozen Barrio 18 members were arrested in connection to the attack, while a cache of ammunition and weapons was seized.

Police duo killed amid wave of attacks in Guatemala City

Two police officers have been gunned down amid a wave of attacks targeting Guatemalan authorities in Guatemala City. Reports revealed that National Police officers were ambushed by presumed Barrio 18 members near a football field in the El Limon colony on Wednesday evening. The attack came just days after nine people were injured and three officers killed in a recent incidents in the capital. 

Two guards killed in violent prison riot in Guatemala City

Two guards were killed and five others have been taken hostage during a massive prison riot at a youth detention centre in Guatemala City. Inmates - mainly those of the subversive Barrio 18 - clashed with guards after demanding the acceptance of food parcels at the Etapa II detention facility in San Jose Pinula. Tensions are likely to escalate as Barrio 18 inmates threatened to attack rival factions if their demands are not met.  

Three officials charged with manslaughter over shelter's fire

Following the resignation of Guatemala's welfare secretary (SBS) chief, Carlos Rodas, three employees of the SBS were arrested on Monday and charged with manslaughter. The prosecution blamed the officials for the responsibility of the deadly shelter's fire last week which killed 40 children. President Jimmy Morales's administration is under pressure with several protests reported over the weekend demanding his resignation. 

Welfare secretary chief resigns over deadly fire at children's shelter

The Guatemalan presidency chief for the Welfare Secretary (SBS) announced his resignation after the death of 40 children in a fire at a children's shelter near Guatemala City. The announcement comes on Monday following widespread protests against the government. Dozens of police officers are involved in the investigations, while President Jimmy Morales publicly urged the assistance from the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). 

Children's shelter fire death toll rises to 40

Days after a massive fire broke out at a children's shelter in the outskirts of Guatemala City, the death toll rose to 40 people. Rights groups fully criticised the government and protests were triggered on Saturday against its inefficiency, with some demanding that President Jimmy Morales step down. On Wednesday, the fire initially claimed the lives of 22 children at the government-run Virgen de Asuncion shelter in San Jose Pinula.

Fire at children's home kills 22

A fire at a children's home has killed 22 teenage girls and wounded 25 others near Guatemala City.  The incident happened at the Virgen de Asuncion shelter in San Jose Pinula on Wednesday.  The blaze reportedly started when residents set fire to mattresses in protest, a day after police were called to the scene after around 60 children managed to escape following a riot.

Seven killed in bus crash in Peten department

At least seven people were killed and 11 others injured in a bus crash in Peten department, northern Guatemala. Emergency services told Prensa Libre that the accident happened between the San Francisco and La Libertad, where the bus crashed against a stationed lorry. The accident comes on the same day as 30 people were injured as a bus overturned en route to Antigua Guatemala, Sacatepequez.

Public ministry warns over potential attacks nationwide

Guatemala's Public Ministry (MP) issued a warning on Thursday over eminent attacks targeting judicial and public buildings across the country. The information released by Guatemalan media warned hospitals, courts and police stations to reinforce security over a wave of potential attacks led by members of the outlawed Barrio 18. The alert is a procedural measure aimed to prevent and secure volatile areas.

Young girl kidnapped and killed in Zacapa

A 13-year-old girl and her grandmother have been kidnapped and killed in Zacapa, eastern Guatemala. Preliminary investigations suggest that eight men stormed their house on Wednesday evening and abducted them. The police arrested three suspects while the motives for the attacks were not disclosed. The incident comes just days after two women were attacked in a shooting in Zacapa's colony of Boques de San Julian.

Grenade fired at bus company headquarters in Escuintla

A strong explosion was caused by a grenade attack on a bus company in Escuintla, southern Guatemala. The attack was reported on Thursday morning when criminals fired a grenade at the building in Santa Lucia Cotzumalguapa. Authorities believe the attack was carried out by local extortionist groups who exploit transport companies. The incident comes amid a wave of robberies and attacks on buses in Guatemala.

Thousands block Inter-American highway during protest in Totonicapan

Over 20,000 people erected at least nine blockades along the Inter-American section of the Pan-American highway during a massive protest on Tuesday afternoon. Residents of Totonicapan and several indigenous leaders of Solola, south-eastern Guatemala, demand an immediate judiciary reform and the recognition of an indigenous judicial system. They also urge the government to act towards hampering energy prices and the attribution of more subsidies. Protests are likely to extend until Wednesday evening, where traffic in the area remains heavily disrupted.

Man killed during robbery attempt on bus near Mixco

A 22-year-old passenger has been killed as four armed men stormed an intercity bus near Mixco, central Guatemala. The bus was en route to Chimaltenango when criminals attempted to rob the vehicle, and a shootout erupted. Two robbers were later captured, while two other suspects were found dead on the road near Sacatepequez - police believe they were injured by another passenger. Buses in Guatemala are often targeted by robbers and extortionists, usually leading to shootings and victims.

Four injured in explosion at market near Guatemala City

Four people have been injured in an explosion at a market in Villa Nueva, near Guatemala City. Preliminary investigations revealed on Sunday that the attack was caused by an ongoing extortion scheme targeted at local businesses. Civilians are often collaterally injured when organised criminal groups in Guatemala target local businesses and transportation services over extortion payments.

Supreme court justice arrested on corruption charges

A Guatemalan Supreme Court justice has been arrested by the National Police. The Attorney General's Office spokeswoman Julia Barreda told AP on Wednesday that Blanca Stalling was arrested over allegations of influence peddling in her son's corruption case. Otto Molina Stalling is among 20 businesspeople and public officials charged over a bribery scheme involving government health contracts. The arrest comes a week after the Congress stripped Blanca of her immunity from prosecution.

Foreign tourist targeted by robbers in Antigua Guatemala

A foreign tourist was attacked by two robbers in Sacatepequez, southern Guatemala. The incident happened in the streets of Antigua Guatemala on Tuesday morning, when the assailants on a motorcycle ambushed their target. Moments later both suspects were located and arrested. Locals urge the authorities to enforce security in the area, where previous attacks on tourists have been reported. The authorities confirmed that incidents often occur on the city's isolated streets and neighbourhoods.

Student stabbed to death in Quetzaltenango

A 26-year-old university student has been found dead in Quetzaltenango, south-western Guatemala. According to the authorities, the victim and her mother were attacked when leaving their home in Cantel on Saturday. The student's body was found near the banks of the Samala river, while her mother was taken to a local hospital for treatment. Police remains investigating the incident and refused to disclose further information.

One killed amid wave of attacks on buses in Guatemala City

One person has been killed and four others have been injured in separate attacks on buses in western Guatemala City. Most of the victims were bus drivers and also a 39-year-old passenger. No further information was released by the authorities; however, it is believed the attacks were connected to gang-retaliation over recent government crackdown on crime. Guatemala City faces recurrent attacks targeting public transports, often carried out by criminal groups involved with drug-trafficking.

Former interior VP and police chief arrested under corruption claims

The former vice-minister for interior and the former National Police (PNL) director have been arrested by the authorities amid corruption allegations. Guatemala's Attorney General announced on Sunday on Twitter that minister Manfredo Vinicio Pecheco Consuegra and Walter Rene Vasquez Ceron were arrested after granting an illegal 32 million quetzal (US$ 4,3 million) government contract. Both arrests underline the corruption schemes in Guatemala under former Interior Minister Mauricio Lopez Bonilla, who was arrested in 2015 under corruption charges.

Guatemalan mayor found dead in Suchitepequez

The mayor of southern Guatemala's city of Samayac has been found dead. The body of Valeriano Rodriguez Cos was found on Wednesday inside a bag, showing signs on torture. The body was found in the neighbouring town of Mazatenango in Suchitepequez. National Police (PNC) and members of the public attorneys office headed to the scene in order to investigate the incident and potential causes of death. Reports revealed that Rodriguez disappeared on Monday. Incidents targeting Guatemalan mayors took place in previous years, mainly during electoral campaigns.

Five kidnappers arrested in police crackdown near Guatemala City

At least five suspected kidnappers have been arrested in San Pedro Ayamuc, in the outskirts of Guatemala City. The men have been detained in a major joint operation, led by the National Police (PNC) and an anti-kidnapping task force, where a 17-year-old hostage has been released after being abducted in the area of Mixco - the kidnappers had demanded 10,000 quetzales (US$ 1,200) in ransom. The number of kidnappings in Guatemala has suffered a significant decrease compared with previous years over the consecutive police crackdown on subversive groups.

Two men killed in shooting in Chiquimula

Two men have been killed and a woman has been injured in an attack by heavily armed men in Chiquimula, near the tri-border with El Salvador and Honduras. Criminals ambushed the victims' pick-up truck on Wedneday and sprayed the vehicle with bullets in the Esquipulas neighbourhood. The National Police (PNC) have launched an investigation to assess the attack motives. The bordering region of Guatemala remains as a porous region to cross-border criminal activity. 

Minister warns over criminal confrontation near Guatemala City

Guatemalan authorities have announced a rise in clashes between criminal gangs and extortion groups in several communities in the outskirts of Guatemala City. Government Minister Francisco Rivas Lara has said that the areas of Ciudad Quetzal, Ciudad Peronia and San Miguel Petapa have been grounds of conflict between criminal groups over territorial claims. He ensured that security has been reinforced on routes where extortionists usually target public transportation vehicles. Despite not targeting visitors directly, clashes between criminal groups may escalate and trigger widespread shootouts.

Three arrested over girl's kidnapping in eastern Guatemala

Three suspected kidnappers have been arrested in eastern Guatemala. The assailants were detained on Tuesday after they kidnapped an 11-year-old girl on Saturday, 14 January. She alerted the authorities after being released in Malacatán, San Marcos department, following the alleged payment of Q35,000 (US$ 4,700) in ransom. According to Prensa Libre, the girl's parents live and work in the US. Police suspect the men worked as mototaxi drivers.

Protests against dam project escalates in Huehuetenango

Violence has escalated amid protests against a Hydroelectric dam project in the Huehuetenango department, western Guatemala. Residents of San Mateo Ixtatán raided the dam's construction site and set several pieces of equipment on fire. Human Rights leaders and the authorities engaged in a dialogue in order to control the situation, where, according to the police, one person was killed. The construction comes as the government plans to turn towards renewable sources of energy. However, in order to construct the massive dams, lands and residences have to be emptied.

Passenger bus attacked by criminals near Guatemala City

A bus driver and his assistant have been gunned down after criminals have ambushed a passenger bus on the outskirts of Guatemala City. Preliminary investigations have suggested that several armed men on a motorcycle opened fire on the vehicle in Ciudad Quetzal on Monday. One passenger was severely injured and taken to the local hospital. Attacks targeting transport companies are usually carried out by extortionist criminals gangs across Guatemala.

President's relatives arrested over corruption allegations

The son and brother of Guatemala's President Jimmy Morales have been arrested amid corruption allegations. They were detained over presumed fraud and money laundering activities in 2013, when they were allegedly involved in a fake expenses claim scheme. Eight others, including members of the government, were arrested during the operation endorsed by the district attorney office. Morales was elected in 2015 waving the flag of scrapping government's corruption following a scandal involving former president General Otto Pérez Molina.

Pacific coast shaken by low intensity earthquake

The Pacific coast of Guatemala has been struck by a 5.1-magnitude earthquake. The National Seismology authority stated that the quake was reported on Wednesday off the coast of Escuintla, south-western Guatemala. No casualties or damages were initially recorded. Guatemala is located in a highly active seismic region, however most of the incidents happen without any major losses.

Six hikers killed as cold weather hits Acatenango volcano

Six hikers have been killed as adverse meteorological conditions have hit the high grounds of the Acatenango volcano in south-western Guatemala. On Saturday evening, a group of 12 tourists and locals initiated a trip towards the crater of the volcano located between the provinces of Chimaltenango and Sacatapequez. The area was suddenly hit by strong winds and heavy rains, which were reportedly as cold as minus 15 degrees Celsius. Emergency services also stated that two other groups went missing the following day on one of the volcano's tracks. The Acatenango volcano is located close to the Volcano del Fuego, which remains highly active.  

Border with El Salvador reinforced after prison break

Guatemalan security forces have announced the border reinforcement with El Salvador after 10 criminals have fled a prison in the eastern region of the neighbouring country. The National Police have stated that the whole border with El Salvador is being highly monitored in order to avoid criminals crossing to Guatemala. Reports show that the assailants, convicted of homicide and assault, were serving prison time in San Francisco Gotera, Morazán department. Guatemalan forces usually hold a strong presence along roads that lead to El Salvador, which is usually used by criminals on cross-border operations.

US Embassy in Guatemala City closed over security threat

The US Embassy in Guatemala City was temporarily shut down on Friday morning after receiving undisclosed threats. The announcement was made by an embassy representative that said that the threat was nothing severe, however the building was closed until 03 January as a precaution. 

Two killed amid shootings in Puerto Barrios

Two people have been killed and a couple of others have been injured during a shooting in Izabal, north-western Guatemala. According to the authorities, a group of armed men on a motorcycle approached a coffee shop in Puerto Barrios and opened fire on its costumers. Preliminary investigations have revealed that the attack is likely connected to a retaliation between criminal groups stationed in the area. The incident happened hours after two people were gunned down in Santo Tomás de Castilla area. Izabal department is one of the most dangerous regions in Guatemala, especially in Puerto Barrios which reports high homicide rates.

Successive eruptions reported on Volcano del Fuego in central Guatemala

On 20 December, more than a dozen eruptions were reported on the Volcano del Fuego in central Guatemala. The volcano is located between the departments of Chimaltenango, Escuintla and Sacatepéquez and remain highly active. Reports state that the ashes reached up to 5 km on the atmosphere and were heading southwards. Emergency services are under high alert and applying all preventative measures in order to support over 10,000 families that live around the crater, especially in Escuintla. 

Police crackdown on extortion network in central Guatemala

On 21 December, a major police crackdown on extortionists from the outlawed Barrio 18 gang took place in three separate Guatemalan provinces. Preliminary investigations revealed that the group is linked to at least six deaths of local businessmen. The operations were carried out in Guatemala City, San José Pinula, Sacatepéquez and Escuintla. The group is responsible of carrying out extortion acts against transport companies and local residents.

Two injured as criminals storm bus in Llano Largo

On 8 December, two people were wounded after armed men opened fire on a minibus in eastern Guatemala. The bus was heading to Llano Largo when two criminals stormed the vehicle and opened fire on the driver. As the criminals came back to the scene, locals held them until the riot police arrived. In Guatemala, transport companies are often the target of extortion racket carried out by local criminal gangs. Bus drivers and other employees are usually attacked when the company fail to pay the criminals' demands.

Suspect criminal kingpin arrested in Guatemala City

On 9 December, one of the suspected leaders of the outlawed criminal gang Barrio 18 was arrested during a major police crackdown in Guatemala City. The operation entitled 'Guate es nuestra' (Guatemala is ours) led to the detention of Danis Randolfo de León Wit, also known as 'Saiger'. The operation was carried out by operatives from the National Police (PNC) and the country's public attorney. Saiger is accused of murder and association to organized crime. The operation Guate es nuestra targeted dozens of members of the Barrio 18 and the Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) across the country. Both gangs are especially dedicated to extortion rackets targeting transport companies, local businesses and the general population.

Military to be deployed in Guatemala City amid crime surge

The local government of Guatemala City has approved the deployment of military personnel to the streets in order to tackle the increasing wave of organised crime. The military is expected to support law enforcement agencies on operations and patrols across the city, especially in the 7th and 12th neighbourhoods. The effort comes after the announcement that a transnational task-force was agreed with El Salvador and Honduras in order to target activities led by the outlawed Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) gang.

Belize government announces referendum amendment

The Belize government, led by president Dean Barrow, announced a new amendment on the upcoming referendum over the historical border dispute with Guatemala. The amendment is set to lower the threshold to 50 percent, instead of the 60 percent initially agreed. If the referendum is approved, the case will be taken to the International Court of Justice (ICJ).  The historical dispute is related to land comprised of nearly 12,270 square miles in the Rio Sibun area, which currently belongs to Belize.

Dozens of women stage protest against gender-based violence

Dozens of women staged a protest on Friday in Managua against gender-based violence. The demonstrators gathered near the country's Supreme court to demand more judicial transparency and an end to violence against women. According to the public attorney, in 2016 nearly 50,000 complaints related to violence against women were reported in Guatemala.

Authorities issue warning as tropical storm Otto approaches

The Guatemalan authorities issued an institutional yellow alert ahead of the approach of the tropical storm Otto. According to the authorities, the storm is currently near Costa Rica and Nicaragua. The National Coordination for Disasters Reduction (Conred) revealed that the storm may cause heavy rains and strong winds across the country. The hurricane season in Guatemala lasts until the end of November. Since the beginning of the rainy season in April, at least 13 people have been and 13 others injured by landslides.

Public attorney to tackle wave of violence against women

Due to the increasing number of violent crimes against women, Guatemala's Public Attorney will launch a new office exclusively dedicated to such incidents. The decision was announced on 16 November by the general attorney, Thelma Aldana. The secretariat, scheduled to open on 23 November, is set to tackle crimes related to physical, psychological and sexual abuse, often designated as femicide. After Jamaica and El Salvador, Guatemala presents the highest number of crimes against women in the world.

Young Rights activist shot dead in Guatemala City

On 12 November, a 22-year-old Human Rights activist was shot dead in the Zone 4 of Guatemala City. The youngster was a regional worker for Guatemala's Center of Legal-Environmental and Social Action (CALAS), which condemned the killing. According to CALAS, the organisation has no reports of the victim receiving any threats or intimidation by any parties. A study launched by Amnesty International revealed that Guatemala is one of the most dangerous countries in the world to be a Rights activist, with more than 18 assassinations reported in 2015.

Transnational task force to initiate counter-gangs operations

A transnational task force targeting organised crime is set to initiate its activities on Tuesday, 15 November. The agreement was signed on 23 August by the governments of Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala. The joint force will comprise members of the national police, public ministry, intelligence agencies and the military. The move also plans to bring the US government on board in order to assist in the operations in the region. The three countries, known as the 'Northern Triangle', report one of the highest murder rates in the world and they are the ground of operations for several international organised crime groups.

Man found dead at sideroad in El Progreso

On 13 November, the National Civil Police announced that a man was found dead in El Progreso department, central Guatemala. The victim, allegedly a private security guard, was located with his hands and feet tied in the Ruta al Atlántico, near Guastatoya. According to the authorities, the man was found with his work uniform and with wounds in the head caused by a firearm. The police believe that the incident was a robbery as the victim had no documents or belongings. It is estimated that the areas of El Progreso are one of the main areas of operations of criminal groups such as the Mexican drug-cartel 'los Zetas'.

Journalist killed during robbery in Quetzaltenango

A local journalist and his wife were murdered on Saturday night in Quetzaltenango, south-western Guatemala. Hamilton Hernández Vásquez and his wife were heading to their house in the Nuevo Granados community when they were attacked on the road between Coatepeque and Flores Costa Cuca. The authorities believe that the incident involved an armed robbery as the bodies of the victims were found without their belongings. According to the Public Ministry and Rights groups, over 40 attacks against media professionals were reported across the country in 2016.

Notorious drug lord ordered to be extradicted to the US

The Guatemalan government has ordered the extradition of Marlon Monroy, one of the most influential drug-traffickers in the country, to the United States. Monroy was arrested in April, along with his wife, in a luxurious area of La Antigua Guatemala. According to the authorities, Monroy was handed over to American officials on 2 November at a air-base in southern Guatemala City. The drug-trafficker is also accused of involvement in corruption scandals involving the Public Ministry and the police's anti-corruption unit. Monroy is reportedly one of the main partners in Guatemala of the Mexican drug kingpin Chapo Guzmán and is also alleged to be involved with the outlawed Sinaloa cartel.

One killed on armed attack in Chimaltenango

One man was killed and two others injured during an attack on a delivery truck in Chimaltenango, southern Guatemala, on Monday. According to the authorities the vehicle was sprayed with bullets by two men riding a motorcycle in La Alameda, Sector B of the town.  A police source stated that the situation is likely to be connected to an ongoing investigation into an extortion case, as another vehicle transporting soft beverages was also attacked on the previous week.

First case of Zika-related microcephaly reported in Guatemala City

On 17 August, the director of infectious diseases at the Roosevelt Hospital in Guatemala City confirmed the first case of Zika-virus related microcephaly in an infant.  Carlos Mejia, director of Infectious Diseases Roosevelt National Hospital, said two other cases are pending confirmation.  Microcephaly is a condition that can cause babies to be born with abnormally sized heads and damaged brains.

Prison riot leaves 13 dead in Guatemala

At least 13 people have been killed in a prison riot in the Pavon prison, 17km south-east of the capital.  Minister of the Interior Francisco Rivas said among the deceased was Captain Byron Lima, who was serving 20 years for the murder of a bishop.  Local authorities said the violence was linked to the ongoing battle for control of the prison system by gangs in Guatemala and neighbouring El Salvador and Honduras.  All three countries have a massively overcrowded prison system populated with rival gang members.

Thousands of teachers join education protests in Guatemala City

Thousands of Guatemalan teachers and union workers have marched through the streets of the capital, Guatemala City, to call for better public education. Nearly 3,000 educational professionals marched on Thursday from the city centre towards congress to demand the inclusion of the sector on the government's official agenda. Guatemalan teachers have been supporting the protests of Mexico's National Coordinator of Education Workers (CNTE), who are angry at education reforms. Recently the demonstrators in Guatemala threatened to close the border if the Mexican government fails to comply with the CNTE's demands.

State of calamity declared in Jerez

The Guatemalan government declared a state of calamity in Jerez, near the Salvadorian border, on Tuesday.  The statement was issued by President Jimmy Morales after heavy rain hit the region, affecting hundreds of people. The measure still has to be approved by the Congress; however, President Morales claims it will help the area to promptly recover from the damage caused by the severe weather conditions.

Former president charged with corruption

Guatemala's former president, Otto Perez Molina, has been formally charged with corruption and money-laundering.  Perez Molina and former Vice-President Roxana Baldetti are among 70 people being prosecuted as part of a huge investigation, led by Prosecutor Julio Barrios Prado.  "That money was used to buy goods and services for you and Baldetti including real estate and luxury vehicles, as well as $4.3 million in gifts," Barrios said to Pérez Molina during the hearing.  Prosecutorrs said Baldetto received $38m in kickbacks between 2009 and 2015 for public works contracts.

Guatemalan government accuses Belize over arrest

The Guatemalan government has accused neighbouring Belize of using excessive force against a Guatemalan man arrested for illegal mining.  The Belizean army arrested three suspected illegal gold miners in Chiquibula National Park on Friday, leading to a confrontation with one man who troops said attacked them with a machete.  "The Guatemalan government regrets and denounces before the international community a new incident of excessive use of force," said the Foreign Ministry in a statement.  Last month Guatemala sent 3,000 troops to the border after a Guatemalan teenager was shot dead in Belize.

Four killed by landslide in Guatemala City

At least four people have been killed and 15 others wounded in a landslide at landfill site in Guatemala.  Rescue workers said at least 20 people remain buried at the site in Guatemala City following heavy rain fall.  According to the government's National Coordinator for Disaster Reduction (Conrad), in the metropolitan area alone there are 232 settlements containing around 300,000 people considered "at risk" of landslides.

Belize claims troop build-up at Guatemala border

The government of Belize has claimed that neighbouring Guatemala is amassing troops along the two countries shared border.  The growing diplomatic spat comes after a 13-year-old Guatemalan boy was killed by Belizean soldiers at the border on Wednesday.  Guatemala's President Jimmy Morales called it a "cowardly and excessive attack" that merits the "total condemnation of the Guatemalan state."  In response Belize said a patrol came under fire while investigating illegal land clearing in Cebada, adding that officers shot back in self-defence.

Five jailed for murder of Argentine singer

Five people have been jailed for the 2011 murder of Argentine folk singer Facundo Cabral.  A Costa Rican man and five Guatemalan were given 50 year sentences for the killing of Cabral and the attempted murder of concert promoter Henry Farinas.  Prosecutors said Farinas, who has since been jailed in Nicaragua on drug trafficking charges, was the main target of the hit.

Dozens wounded in clashes at rates protest

At least 27 people have been wounded in clashes between protesters and Guatemala's National Civil Police (PNC) in Villa Nueva.  Hundreds of people gathered to protest against increasing utility rates, including water tariffs and waste collection charges.  The PNC used tear gas to disperse the crowds, while a small number of protesters threw rocks and stones at the police.

Foreign hostages freed in Guatemala

Three Bangladeshis and 10 Ecuadorians have been rescued by police in the town of Huehuetenango.  Three people accused of kidnapping the group have been arrested, while the Public Ministry said the victims' families had received demands of $24,000.  Police tracked the kidnappers via GPS coordinates, which were obtained when they called to make their demands.

Prison riot leaves 16 dead in Guatemala

At least 16 people have been killed in a prison riot in the town of Escuintla, around 60km south of the capital.  Police are attempting to retake control of the facility, which has more than 3,000 prisoners despite having capacity for just 600. "All the dead are prisoners, we have ruled out any guards among the dead," Rudy Esquivel, spokesman for Guatemala´s prison system, said on Monday. "The cause was a clash between them, we are still investigating."

Guatemalan mayor lynched in Solola province

A mob has killed a mayor in western Guatemala over claims that he ordered an attack on a political rival.  Basilio Juracan, mayor of Concepcion in Solola province, was beaten and set alight on Sunday.  Local residents claim he was responsible for an attack on Lorenzo Sequec, who he defeated in the mayoral race last month.  Gunmen ambushed Mr Sequec's car on Sunday morning and shot dead his 17-year-old daughter and 16-year-old niece, while four other people were also wounded.

Dozens killed by huge landslide

At least 220 people have been confirmed dead after a hillside collapsed on to the village of El Cambray on Thursday night.  Rescue operations are underway but the death toll is expected to rise with more than 350 people still missing. Sergio Cabanas, a senior official at disaster agency Conred, told a news conference that he doubted any other survivors would be found. “But we have enough hope to keep looking, even if just one more person gets out alive,” he said.

Ex-President Otto Perez indicted for corruption

A Guatemalan judge has ordered former president Otto Perez Molina to stand trial on corruption charges. Prosecutors accuse Mr Perez of masterminding a scheme where businesses bribed officials to clear their imports through customs at a low tax rate. The scandal led to months of street protests across the country. The judge has said that there is sufficient evidence for Mr Perez to face charges of customs fraud, racketeering and bribery. 

Arrest warrant issued for President Perez Molina

A judge in Guatemala has issued an arrest warrant for the country's president, Otto Perez Molina, a day after congress removed his immunity from prosecution.  Mr Perez Molina has resigned from office, while Judge Miguel Angel Galvez has barred him from leaving the country.  Prosecutor general Thelma Aldana said the president faced charges of illicit association, fraud and receiving bribes as part of a widespread customs racket.

Prosecution asks for President's impeachment

The Guatemalan prosecutor's office has requested that the Supreme Court give them permission to investigate President Otto Perez Molina in an impeachment process. Molina has been accused of corruption for his involvement in bribing schemes over social security and import tariffs that resulted in Vice-President Roxana Baldetti and 17 other high-ranking government officials losing their positions. The President rejected the accusations of corruption, and Congress rejected calls  to strip him of his impunity last week. 

Kidnapping ring dismantled in Guatemala

La Policia Nacional Civil (PNC) released a statement saying that three men and two women, members of a kidnapping for ransom gang called 'Tormenta', had been arrested. The gang operated in Guatemala City and Quetzaltenango. The statement added that the gang were suspected of being involved in the kidnapping of a 17-year-old student in Zone 1 on 8 April, 2015. They initially demanded a ransom of Q1 million ($131k) but the family paid a much smaller sum of money and gave some jewellery.  The victim was released the following day at the same location where he was kidnapped.  

Ex-dictator's lawyer shot dead in Guatemala City

A lawyer who represented former military dictator Efrain Rios Montt against genocide charges has been shot dead in Guatemala.  Franciso Palomo, 63, was shot multiple times while driving through a residential neighbourhood of the capital, Guatemala City.  The gunmen escaped the scene and it is not clear if the killing was politically motivated.

Thousands join anti-government protest in Guatemala

Thousands of people took part in a mass anti-government protest in Guatemala's capital on Saturday. "We don't want Otto Perez in power any more," said dentist Otto Chojolan amid the crowd in Constitution Square. "They've stolen so much money, and that's why I've come to protest - it's important the politicians know we are unhappy." Protests against President Otto Perez's administration have increased in recent weeks over allegations of government corruption, fraud and conspiracy.

Thousands join anti-government rallies in Guatemala

Tens of thousands of people have joined anti-government rallies across Guatemala, with protesters calling on President Otto Perez Molina to resign.  Mass demonstrations were held across 13 cities in the country, including the capital, Guatemala City.  The protests were organised by the Citizens' Movement Against Corruption, which was created with "the sole purpose of taking concrete steps to combat corruption", it said in a statement on Friday.

Two journalists shot dead in Guatemala

Two journalists have been shot dead at a park in southern Guatemala.  Danilo Lopez and Federico Salazar were killed in the Mazatenango municipality on Tuesday.  The editor of the Prensa Libre newspaper, Miguel Angel Mendez Zetina, said Mr Lopez had recently filed a complaint about the mayor of San Lorenzo for making death threats against him.

Hundred evacuated after Fuego Volcan erupts

More than 100 people have been evacuated after a volcano known locally as the Volcán de Fuego erupted in southern Guatemala.  The volcano spewed ashes to around 5,500m above sea level, forcing the La Aurora International Airport in Guatemala City to close.

Orthodox Jews forced to leave Guatemalan village

A group of 230 Orthodox Jews have been forced to leave a village in Guatemala following a row with the local indigenous community.  A member of the Lev Tahor group said they had been threatened "with lynching" if they did not leave San Juan La Laguna.  A spokesman for the indigenous group said that the Lev Tahor had tried to impose their religion on the local population and the villagers elders had voted to ask them to leave.

Three killed as 6.9-magnitude earthquake rocks Guatemala

A powerful 6.9 magnitude earthquake has struck the border between Mexico and Guatemala.  At least three people died and around 33 people were wounded in the region of San Marcos, with the quake causing damage to buildings and triggering landslides.  The quake's epicentre was reported across the border in the Mexican city of Puerto Madero.

Nine members of family shot dead in northern Guatemala

Nine members of the same family have been shot dead in a remote part of northern Guatemala.  An army spokeman said that a military helicopter and at least 90 soldiers were being deployed to the area to investigate.  Ismael Cifuentes said gunmen in two SUVs had arrived at the house and opened fire on the family, adding that a young girl and a baby were among the victims.

Gunmen kill 11 in shooting spree

At least 11 people have been killed after a group of men opened fire on them in the village of San Jose Nacahuil, 23km from Guatemala City.  The country's Interior Ministry, Maurico Lopez Bonilla, blamed the attack on local street gangs; however, local residents disputed this claim.

Protests scheduled for Friday in Guatemala City

Human Rights activists and Ixil Indians have both announced that they intend to hold a rally in Guatemala City of Friday.  The groups are angry at the Constitutional Court's decision to overturn a genocide conviction against former dictator Efrain Rios Montt.

State of emergency declared after mine protest

A 30-day state of emergency has been declared in four municipalities after clashes erupted between police and anti-mining protester in the south-east of the country.  One police officer was shot dead on Monday, while at least six protesters were wounded when security guards opened fire on them a few days earlier.

Guatemala Data Sheet

Population:
13.8 million
Major Religion/s:
Christianity
International dialing code:
+502
International dialing prefix:
00
Emergency services:
Police 110, Medical 120, Fire 123
Drives:
Right
Voltage:
120V
Climate:
Tropical
Ohter Major Cities:
Mixco, Villa Nueva, Escuintla, Antigua, Coban, Quetzaltenango
Borders:
Mexico, Belize, Honduras, El Salvador