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The Guatemalan Consulate in Los Angeles uses its Facebook page to promote the Central American nation and trumpet its cultural achievements. But lately, many Guatemalans living in L.A. have used the page to plead, vent and despair over the lack of assistance they’re getting from their homeland.
“Please, I need help!” Esvin Larios wrote recently, detailing how he’d been trying for two weeks to make an appointment to obtain a passport via the consulate’s web portal. Although he’d quickly filled out the necessary online request form — “Seriously, it took me less than five minutes,” he said — all the slots were filled up, and he was forced to wait yet again.
Services at several of L.A.’s Latin American consulates were stymied and slowed by the pandemic. But since health restrictions eased and the economy opened back up, local outposts of the governments of Mexico, El Salvador and Honduras have largely resumed normal operations, while Guatemala’s has lagged.
The problems besetting the Guatemalan Consulate have been snowballing since March 2020, causing delays and other glitches for Guatemalan citizens trying to process and obtain passports, personal identification documents, consular identification cards and birth certificates. Now website issues are exacerbating the frustration.