Melchor de Mencos

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Center of Melchor de Mencos

Melchor de Mencos is a municipality in the Petén department of Guatemala with population 23,813. It is situated on the western border with Belize, and is the only major border crossing from Guatemala to Belize.

The city was established in April of 1960. It is named after Sergeant Major Melchor de Mencos y Varón, who in 1754 journeyed with a tiny contingent of Spanish colonial troops from what is now Antigua, Guatemala to the coast of present-day Belize, there to combat English "pirates" who had settled that region and established a self-governing community.[1]

Large numbers of its young people attend secondary school across the border in Belize, seeking the competitive benefits of English-language fluency. They can be seen when dropped off on weekday mornings at the Guatemalan end of the pedestrian border crossing, walking through, and boarding the same school buses at the Belizian end, from there to be transported onward to their secondary schools in Benque Viejo del Carmen, Melchor's twin city across the border in Belize, or further afield. Wikipedia's Spanish-language version says that 25% of the student population travel to Belizian schools.[2]

Prior to their relocation in 1989, Melchor de Mencos was home to the two training centres of the Guatemalan Army's elite Kaibiles special operations force. The Guatemalan army still maintains a major unit encamped literally adjacent to the border in Melchor.

The Maya archaeological site of La Blanca is located within the municipality.[3]


  1. ^ es:Melchor de Mencos
  2. ^ es:Melchor de Mencos
  3. ^ Muñoz Cosme 2006, p.340.


Muñoz Cosme, Gaspar (2006). "Estructura urbana y arquitectura en La Blanca, Petén." (PDF online publication). XIX Simposio de Investigaciones Arqueológicas en Guatemala, 2005 (edited by J.P. Laporte, B. Arroyo and H. Mejía). Museo Nacional de Arqueología y Etnología, Guatemala. pp. 340–351. Retrieved 2010-10-23.  (Spanish)

Coordinates: 17°04′N 89°09′W / 17.067°N 89.150°W / 17.067; -89.150