REMEMBERING The 1989 New Year’s Day Ferry Disaster in GUATEMALA. Some of The Victims Were Of GARIFUNA Descent. Tragedy considered the WORST Naval Disaster in the History of GUATEMALA.

Ferry in a port in Puerto Barrios, Guatemala.  Photo courtesy of Wade Shepard of

Ferry in a port in Puerto Barrios, Guatemala. Photo courtesy of Wade Shepard of

Copyright 2014 by Teofilo Colon Jr.  (a.k.a. “Tio Teo” or “Teofilo Campeon”) All Rights Reserved.  Telephone: (646) 961-3674.

Twitter:  @beinggarifuna

Livingston “La Buga” and Puerto Barrios, Guatemala, Central America — New Year’s Day marked twenty five years since a ferry disaster with many casualties, some of whom were of Garifuna descent.  It is considered the worst naval disaster in the history of the Central American country of Guatemala.

Capsized Ferry.  Photo courtesy of

Capsized Ferry. Photo courtesy of

It was on the afternoon of SUNDAY, January 1st 1989, when an overcrowded ferry named the Justo Rufino Barrios II was capsized in the shark-infested waters of the Amatique Bay while traveling the 16 miles between the Garifuna town of Livingston “La Buga” Guatemala and the port city of Puerto Barrios, Guatemala.

Ferry carried people who were celebrating New Year’s Day festivities in Livingston.

All victims except for three were Guatemalan.

passengers returning to Puerto Barrios, majority of victims were from Puerto Barrios or the capitol of Guatemala, Guatemala City.

no road connects Livingston and Puerto Barrios.  Regular transport between the two places is by water.   Puerto Barrios is Guatemala’s main east coast port.  Most travel along the coast by boat.

Weather conditions were rough — heavy seas and winds up to 30 miles per hour.

Boat was 5 miles offshore when it overturned.

Over 160 people, including about 40 children were on the ferry when it capsized.

Official capacity of the ferry was 90 passengers.

60 foot ferry



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