The American Society of Guatemala

The American Society of Guatemala (courtesy of ASG)

written by Ralph Anske

The American Society of Guatemala (ASG) was founded on June 14, 1960 by a group of American citizens residing in Guatemala. The society was created to provide a focal point to strengthen community ties and provide an institution to represent the interests of its members. It helps them contribute in situations where citizens of the United States as a group can usefully participate in promoting the ties of friendship and mutual understanding between Guatemala and the United States, as well as among American citizens living here. From its earliest days, Americans doing business in Guatemala (and across Central America) have been able to strengthen their associations through the society.

During its first half-century, the society undertook a wide range of charitable enterprises. One of the most substantial and earliest is the Milagro Medical complex in Mixco. In 1966, businessman William Luce gave a building and grounds to the ASG for a medical clinic. Numerous ASG fundraising activities, as well as cooperation from the Swiss, Italian and German communities in Guatemala, have resulted in a complex of buildings that include a dentist’s office, a community center and a library. In 1990 then-Ambassador Tom Struck formally handed the project over to the community, and the center is currently managed by Vitalino Cuca.

Historically, the ASG has focused on good-works projects such as providing building, cleaning and paint supplies to the Escuela de Los Estados Unidos in zone 5; donating several computers to the IGER (Guatemala Institute for Radio-based Education); and providing scholarships for children participating in the FotosKids program which uses photography, graphic arts and scholarships to give children at risk in poor areas an opportunity to get ahead. Caring for children with HIV, the Hospice San José in San Lucas, between Guatemala City and La Antigua, has received educational materials and cleaning supplies from ASG.

The ASG also supports the annual Messiah concert during Christmas season, proceeds from the concert go to various local charities. In response to the recent drought and ongoing hunger crisis in parts of the country, ASG, along with the American Legion, contributed over 10,000 quetzales worth of food with much of it going to help children in the affected areas.

The society also organizes social gatherings for its members and their guests every year. In addition to the traditional Fourth of July picnic, ASG holds seasonal festivities such as Christmas dinners and other get-togethers, including pasta lunches, receptions and other events that allow participants to share the fellowship of Americans living abroad, as well as encourage cooperation and assistance at the individual level.

As a final act of outreach to its fellow Americans, the society maintains the American Cemetery, which is part of the larger La Villa De Guadalupe Cemetery in zone 14.

If you are interested in knowing more about the ASG, please contact Linda Palacios (lindabpal@gmail) or Pablo Arroyave (parroyave@gmail).

6 comments

  • hi, I was wondering if the ASG has a website or somewhere to contact them? Thanks!

  • If you are interested in knowing more about the ASG, please contact Linda Palacios (lindabpal@gmail) or Pablo Arroyave (parroyave@gmail).

  • Linda Palacios

    To reach the American Society of Guatemala, please correct my email to lindabpal@hotmail.com rather than lindabpal@gmail.com. Thanks.

  • Linda Palacios

    As a member of the Bd. of Directors of the American Society of Guatemala, I was called by an Embassy representative when Gerald Smith died. His body was not claimed by any family member and he was, therefore, buried in the Am. Society’s space in the Cementerio General in Zone 3. The Embassy took care of the arrangements, and sadly, no one was notified of the date, time, etc. of burial to have any representatives from the Society there. It saddened me that no one had cared about Gerald and that no one could be there to say good-bye.

    Your Border Crossing article on him in July’s edition was a nice tribute to a man who obviously was loved by those who had known him. It made me feel a little better about the man who was laid to rest unceremoniously in an unmarked grave in a country for which he had done so much.

  • Ron Gramazio

    I just found out about Jerry’s passing when I tried to post something on his Facebook page. I know he had no family left, here on Cape Cod, but I thought he had a brother, somewhere. I last saw him in 2002 when he was staying at Patty’s, and living with Stevie. I am deeply saddened by his passing.

    I am guessing that he is buried in Guatemala City?

    I was one of the few people from the Cape who stayed in contact because we shared intelligence, love of indigenous peoples, adventure, and underachieving. We were kindred spirits and I am horrified that his passing went so unnoticed.

    Thank you for sharing the information you had…..it served its purpose well.

  • Hello,
    I am interested in finding out more about ASG’ s membership. I retired to Guatemala in 2011 and
    settling into the Guatemalan city scene while continuing w/ my artwork at my home/studio and
    working with deaf communities here in Guatemala. I left a 30 year teaching English career at
    Gallaudet University for the deaf in Washington, D.C.
    I would very much like to meet others from the States and who are living in Guatemala City as well.
    Best Wishes,
    Barby at 2441.8537

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