Update on Piedras Negras, Guatemala Safety

by Dr. Greg Little

In the Fedruary 2005 issue of AP, I related details gleaned from a host of articles and press releases on a development at Piedras Negras, Guatemala, the site of Edgar Cayce's "Yucatan Hall of Records." According to archaeologist Stephen Houston, the ruins at Piedras Negras had been overrun by drug smugglers who had established a new route to bring South American cocaine into the U.S. According to a U.S. State Department white paper, the new route, taking the Usumacinta River to airstrips close to the Gulf region where the drugs were flown to the Bahamas, was the "preferred route" for drug smuggling. There is a fair amount of "human cargo" seen on the river, basically the movement of Central and South Americans trying to reach the U.S. Whether or not this is a "cover" for drug smuggling isn't known. But according to Les Mahoney, of "Copper Canyon Adventures," whatever actually happened at Piedras Negras isn't the case presently. His sources reveal that the "bandits," as they were described in the articles, were in the area for a brief time before moving away.

Copper Canyon led our 2004 excursion to the area, and it was a well-managed itinerary that took place flawlessly. They are available to conduct more tours to the site. Basically, the best advice to anyone who wants to travel to Guatemala is to keep in mind that the greatest risks are in cities and when traveling on isolated roads--especially at night. If you plan on going, don't travel at night or expose yourself within cities. Any land travel should be done with experienced guides and drivers. Mind your own business and be a "tourist"—that is, look at the archaeological sites you are there to see.

As a side note, I made extensive efforts to find out what was happening in the region after Houston's press release. Over the past eight months, I could find not a single update on the situation from Guatemalan, U.S. State Department information, or any other sources. Thanks to Les Mahoney for providing genuine information on the situation. We do plan on returning to the site.