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Africa in Guatemala

Updated: May 16, 2023

Livingston, Guatemala

“In Guatemala, the Afrodescendants mostly live in the Caribbean cities of Livingstone and Puerto Barrios. They are principally Garifuna or Garinagu. The Garifuna, known initially until well into the 20th century as “Black Caribs,” are the product of a process of miscegenation between African slaves and indigenous Caribs or Arawaks, which occurred during the colonial period in the lesser Antilles, and mainly on the Island of San Vicente. Garifuna Mass deportation by the British from San Vicente to Central America began in 1797 and reached the Caribbean coasts of four countries: Honduras, Belize, Guatemala, and Nicaragua. Currently, following a constant migration process which started in the mid 20th century, much of the Garifuna population now lives in the United States.

The statistics about the number of Garifuna in Central America and the United States have been highly fluctuating. According to the United Nations Report of Human Development for Central America, in 2003 Honduras would have had 200,000 Garifuna, Belize 15,000, Guatemala 5,000 and Nicaragua 2,000 for a grand total of approximately some 222,000 people in the four countries. There are no precise statistics on the number of Garifuna residing in the United States but different sources (Mohr de Collado 2007:71) speak of an amount that could be equal to or higher than that of the Garifuna who live in Central America. This would give us a total population of about 400,000 individuals. Although they are a small minority, since the Peace Accords of the 1990s, the Garifuna of Guatemala have been recognized as part of the country’s ethnic and cultural diversity.”

(The Afro-Guatemalan Political Mobilization: Between Identity Construction Processes, Global Influences, and Institutionalization by Carlos Agudelo)

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