Afro-Guatemalan are Guatemalans of African descent. Afro-Guatemalans comprise 1-2% of the population. They are of mainly English speaking West Indian(Antillean) and Garifuna population. They are found in the Caribbean coast, in Livingston (a Garifuna settlement), Puerto Barrios and Santa Tomas. During the colonial period, African slaves were brought in, but have mixed with the general population and can be referred to as Afro-mestizos.


The first Afro-Guatemalan arrived in Guatemala in 1524 with Pedro de Alvarado (the “Conqueror of Guatemala”). Slaves were used in the sugar, indigo, and cochineal plantations. They were also used in the hacienda or large cattle ranch. They were mainly settled in the Pacific southern and inland areas. Between 1524 and 1620, a total of 10,000 African slaves were brought to Guatemala. After 1620, the importation of slaves cease. Slaves would runaway forming maroon societies, living among the Indian population. Slavery ended in 1823. Eventually, the slave population would mix with the general population of Guatemala. During the 17th century, some slave were able to buy their freedom, forming a small community of free blacks. 

Marimba a type of xylophone, created in Guatemala is believed to be of African roots. The most famous of Afro-Mestizos was dictator Rafael Carrera. He had African and European ancestry. He ruled Guatemala from 1844 to 1865. 

Garifuna and Antillean

The Garifuna entered Guatemala in 1823, after independence. They occupied the Caribbean lowland. They were later joined by free blacks of the colonial era. In the latter part of the 20th century, West Indian workers were brought in to work the banana plantations. A few made Guatemala home.

Works Cited

Minority rights group international. Guatemala Overview