The American Society of Guatemala
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).