When Visiting Guatemala, Heed Travel Advisories

Article excerpt

If you're someone with an irresistible urge to "kootchy-koo" a smiling baby's double chin or make Jim Carrey eyes at any child willing to pay you a quarter-minute's attention, you might want to practice stifling yourself before you visit Guatemala.

Last year, an American woman visiting Guatemala was attacked and severely beaten by villagers when she was suspected of seeking to kidnap a small child. Rumors of foreigners stealing children for adoption or sale of their organs caused a frenzy, leading to additional incidents of violence against foreigners - and causing the American government to issue a travel advisory.

The furor over the unfounded baby-stealing rumors has pretty much died down, but the US State Department maintains its travel advisory - in part for the baby-stealing hysteria, but also in response to the kidnapping of an American woman last year. "Violent crime is a very serious and growing problem in Guatemala," the US Embassy in Guatemala City says on a recorded message for travelers. …