Guatemala- A special on Greeks in Guatemala by the Athens News Agency portrays a vibrant community of people active in a broad range of activities, ranging from the “Molon Lave” plastics to “Grecia” chocolates, which later spawned an entire chocolate manufacturing business by Panagiotis Papachiou, the first Greek to officially migrate to Guatemala in 1926. But there are also stories of a Greek boat builder by the name of Mavros the first Greek to set up shop in this Central American country in 1900.
The country’s largest port, Buerto Barrios, is home to a number of Greek families. Liberis Chronopoulos, for instance, left his hometown of Tripoli, in Peloponnisos, married and ended up staying 35 years to be near his children. Today he is 67 years old. Christos Klikopoulos, from Litochoro in Katerini, set up the “Europa” hotels, a highly successful business now run by his children.
Equally impressive is the story of four Greeks who in 1960 set up a plastics production business after buying used equipment from Colombia. Since 1962, the business has led to a number of companies including Metaloplast, Megaplast, Elenoplast, Lacoplast, Xeoplast, Neoplast, Spartaplast, Diversiplast and Aristoplast. There is also the story of Giannis Kefalas, a former basketball player and coach to the Guatemalan national team, who today runs one of the top 100 silk screen businesses in the world.
Greek businessmen continue to settle in Guatemala. Ippokrates Eliadis and Nikos Vatsakis are two such younger generation Greeks who are currently running successful businesses in the country. Speaking to ANA, Mr. Vatsakis, who left Skala in Laconia 35 years ago said that Greeks have always been very well received in Guatemala.
Dimitri Molyviatis is a case in point. He was general secretary of the country’s Christian Party that was in government in the 80’s. Speaking to ANA, Mr. Molyviatis, who runs the 7 Caldos restaurants and holds regular meetings with fellow Greeks at the «Greek Corner», said that there is no official Greek community in Guatemala. He also said that if Greek cultural events were to be held in the country, participation would be ‘unprecedented’.
The living has not been easy for the 21 Greek families living in Guatemala, which emerged from a 35-year civil war as recently as 1996.