The Central American country of Guatemala has inaugurated its newest consulate in Raleigh to serve Guatemalans living in the Carolinas and southern Virginia.
The consulate is one of four the country is introducing in the United States this year, and it opened for business earlier this week. Guatemalan nationals can go there to apply for passports and visas, or declare citizenship for their children.
Jorge Archila is the Consul General, and he is returning to the Triangle to assume the position after being away since graduating from North Carolina State University in 2004. Archila says before this week, Guatemalans living in the Triangle had to travel to the Guatemalan embassy in Washington, D.C., or farther to access government services. The next closest consulate was in Atlanta, about a 7 hour drive away.
"The consulate in Atlanta used to come and do mobile consulate here in Raleigh, and there were always over 1,000 people trying to get services," Archila said.
Archila says Raleigh makes a good location for the consulate for a number of reasons.
Raleigh and its surrounding cities together have a larger Guatemalan population than Charlotte. Archila also says the city's central location and access to local government services in the state capitol are benefits.
The new consulate offers a shorter trip and faster services for Guatemalan nationals in the region. Archila says he wants Guatemalan nationals to know that the consulate is open for business.
"The Guatemalan community in North and South Carolina is not alone anymore. We are here for them," Archila said.