On the afternoon of Friday, January 13 local time (early morning of January 14 Taipei time), President Tsai Ing-wen and her accompanying delegation, who were in Central America on a trip codenamed the "Ing-Jie Project," visited the General Secretariat of the Central American Integration System (SICA) and Metropolitan Cathedral of San Salvador.
After President Tsai arrived at the SICA General Secretariat, SICA Secretary General Victoria Marina Velasquez de Aviles accompanied her into the building to see an exhibit marking the 25th anniversary of cooperation between Taiwan and SICA.
The exhibit introduced over 100 projects that have been carried out over the 25 years since SICA was founded in 1991 to support SICA operations and improve the quality of life for the people of Central America. These projects, which have been conducted under the supervision of the Conference of Foreign Ministers of the Mixed Commission for Cooperation between the Countries of the Central American Isthmus and the Republic of China, have been designed to address the five main issues on SICA's regional agenda: democratic security; economic integration; social integration; climate change and disaster prevention; and institutional strengthening.
Twelve organizations that Taiwan has worked with in recent years on cooperation projects were invited this year by the SICA General Secretariat to jointly hold the exhibition, and some of those organizations invited people who have benefitted from the programs to come to the exhibition and speak about their experiences. Among the organizations involved were the Institute of Nutrition of Central America and Panama (INCAP), the Secretariat of Central American Economic Integration (SIECA), the Central America Fisheries and Aquaculture Organization (OSPESCA), and the Regional Center for the Promotion of Micro and Small Enterprises (CENPROMYPE).
A person who was at the exhibition representing those project beneficiaries enthusiastically gave President Tsai some fine hand-made needlework and a personally designed leather bag, and asked the president to speak via videoconference with more than 10 people who had attended a course at CENPROMYPE on "business management and economic integration." The atmosphere was very relaxed and upbeat.
In addition, as a gesture of thanks to Taiwan for its major contributions to the process of economic integration in the Central American region, SICA has named its 6th floor activities hall the "Republic of China Hall." After they finished touring the exhibition, President Tsai and Secretary General Velasquez chose the Republic of China Hall to engage in an exchange of views on matters of shared concern. After that, Secretary General Velasquez escorted President Tsai a 2nd-floor walkway and explained the symbolism of a huge mural in the building's main lobby.
After concluding their visit to the SICA General Secretariat, President Tsai and her delegation proceeded to the Metropolitan Cathedral of San Salvador for a visit.
After arriving at the Metropolitan Cathedral, President Tsai was accompanied by the Archbishop of San Salvador Jose Luis Escobar Alas first to the crypt of the cathedral to pay tribute at the tomb of Archbishop Oscar Romero. Standing before the archbishop's tomb, President Tsai gently touched the floral wreath there to convey her respect. Archbishop Escobar told President Tsai about the life story of Archbishop Oscar Romero, and President Tsai penned a Chinese phrase in the guest book: "The brave fear not. Justice is ever alive." That concluded the president's visit to El Salvador.
The Metropolitan Cathedral of San Salvador is the principal church of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of San Salvador. The crypt of the cathedral holds the tomb of the late Archbishop Oscar Romero, who died for his refusal to compromise on his ideals. He has always been regarded by the people of El Salvador and all of Central America as a symbol of the quest for freedom and peace, and was a leader of the Latin American liberation theology.