It is know Guatemala has a major problem with illegal drug trade with the majority of this activity along the Mexican border. While we spent our time in central and southern regions we did notice a significant police presence. The PNC or National Civil Police were evident everywhere and usually armed with rifles. They seemed to be stopping commercial vehicles along the roads for what reason I am not sure. Our van was stopped just outside Guatemala City but I did not think it appropriate to take pictures ( I was scared sh……less) Near Guatemala city most fast food outlets, gas stations and other businesses had armed guards. Most banks throughout the country had armed guards. In Antigua, which is a popular tourist local, they have special tourist police which is nice but we did not see many of them. I am not sure of the function for other military attired individuals with assault rifles we saw frequently during our travels.
I am told the military is still viewed with a little scepticism since the the country’s brutal 1960-1996 civil war, in which violence against the rural, largely indigenous population reached the level of genocide. The military at this time was supported by the American government under Ronald Reagan. If you want to learn more about this search out the one hour documentary “ The Man We Called Juan Carlos” by Victoria film company Asterisk Productions. Co- producers and writers, David Springbett and Heather McAndrews have a personal connection to this story. Visit www.asterisk.bc.ca
The armed guard who greeted us at the entrance to a the Copan Ruins was a nice touch.