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Country Summary for GUATEMALA

I.  Relevant Legislation
II.  Regulated Cultural Property


Paleontological, archaeological, historic and artistic properties and values of the country are the cultural patrimony of the Nation and are under the protection of the State. (Constitution of 1985, Art. 60)

The Cultural Heritage of the Nation is made of the paleontological, archaeological, historic, anthropological, artistic, scientific and technological, public or private, personal and real property…declared as such by a Law or Statement of the Authority. (Decree No. 26-97, Art. 2)

Declaring a publicly or privately owned item part of the Cultural Heritage of the Nation….will be issued through Ministerial Resolution to be published in the Official Gazette. (Decree No. 26-97, Art. 25)

'Real [Immovable] Cultural Property'—
(1) Architecture and its components, including the decorations applied to it;
(2) Groups of components of architecture and of vernacular architecture;
(3) Paleontological and archaeological sites;
(4) Historic sites;
(5) Prehistoric and prehispanic inscriptions and representations. (Decree No. 26-97, Art. 3§Ia)

'Personal [Movable] Cultural Property'—any object that is genuinely important to the country for religious or secular reasons and is associated with Guatemala’s paleontology, archaeology, anthropology, history, literature, art, science or technology and comes from the following sources:
(1) Collections and objects…. of value to Guatemalan zoology, botanicals, mineralogy, anatomy, and paleontology;
(2) The product of ground or underwater excavations or explorations or the product of any paleontological or archaeological discovery, whether planned or accidental.
(3) The elements resulting from the dismembering of artistic and historic monuments and of archaeological sites.
(4) The artistic and cultural objects related to the history of the country, outstanding events, illustrious personalities of social, political and intellectual life…such as:
(a) Original paintings, drawings, and sculpture;
(b) Photographs, engravings, serigraphs and lithographs;
(c) Unique and meaningful sacred art;
(d) Original manuscripts and old books, maps, documents and publications;
(e) Periodicals, magazines…and other materials from… libraries of the country;
(f) Archives, including photographic, cinematographic and electronic archives of all kinds;
(g) Musical instruments;
(h) Antique furniture. (Decree No. 26-97, Art. 3)

Cultural objects…that are over fifty years old from the time of their construction or creation and have a historic or artistic value are subject to this law. Objects that are more recent but are of outstanding interest to art, history, science, architecture, culture in general and which help to strengthen the identity of the Guatemalans may be included. (Decree No. 26-97, Art. 3 §II)

Competent State Agencies

[P]rotection, defense, research, conservation and recovery of assets that are part of the Cultural Heritage of the Nation. It is the responsibility of the State to carry out this task through the Ministry of Culture and Sports. (Decree No. 26-97, Art. 1)

The Register of Cultural Assets is a public agency of the Cultural and Natural Heritage Bureau. Its objective is to register, annotate, cancel, carry out and enter into contracts with regard to the ownership and possession of cultural assets.(Decree No. 26-97, Art. 23)


Any person or legal entity that holds title to or owns objects that are part ofthe Cultural Heritage of the Nation is under the obligation to register them in the appropriate Register ….Registering the item will prove the ownership or possession of the object in question from the moment it is registered. Legal action by third parties is saved harmless….failure to comply with the obligation to register a cultural item within the period of time provided by this Law will lead to a fine equivalent to three minimum monthly salaries in force in economic activities. (Decree No. 26-97, Art. 24)

III.  Export Restrictions

IV.  Ownership Rights and Restrictions

V.  Violations, Penalties and Sanctions

VI.  International Conventions and Bilateral Agreements
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Country Contact
for Cultural Property
Ministerio de Cultura y Deportes
Instituto de Antropologia e Historia
12 Ave. 11-65, Zone 1
Guatemala C.P. 01001
Ph: (502) 232-5571
F: (502) 253-0540