On the evening of March 31 local time (morning of April 1 Taipei time), President Tsai Ing-wen was received with full military honors before engaging in bilateral talks and witnessing the signing of a bilateral agreement with Republic of Guatemala President Alejandro Eduardo Giammattei Falla. After the signing, the two presidents made statements to the media.
President Tsai and her delegation were welcomed with full military honors by President Giammattei, Guatemalan Foreign Minister Mario Búcaro, and Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Guatemala to the Republic of China (Taiwan) Oscar Adolfo Padilla Lam upon arrival at the Guatemalan National Palace of Culture. The two leaders stood for the national anthems of their countries before proceeding together with a military inspection and mutual introductions between the two parties.
The two leaders then met for bilateral talks and stood witness as the countries' foreign ministers signed a basic Taiwan-Guatemala cooperation agreement.
Following the bilateral signing, the leaders made statements to the media. President Tsai said that she learned about the fire at the migrant detention center in Mexico before arriving in Guatemala, and expressed her deepest condolences to the victims and their families.
A translation of President Tsai's remarks follows:
I am delighted to be back in Guatemala and meet again with President Giammattei. I also want to convey our best wishes on behalf of the people and government of the Republic of China (Taiwan) to President Giammattei and all our friends in Guatemala. The last time I visited Guatemala was in 2017. Today, as the plane descended, I looked down upon the magnificent volcano and lake I remembered so well. The scenery was as beautiful as ever, and it truly brought up pleasant memories.
Over the past few years, both Taiwan and Guatemala have seen many changes, but also much progress. Guatemala has made great strides under the leadership of President Giammattei. In 2021, as the pandemic impacted the global economy, Guatemala's economy grew by 7.5%. Last month, Fitch Ratings ranked Guatemala as the fastest economic recovery in Latin America, an admirable performance.
Guatemala is a staunch ally of Taiwan, and over the past few years we have continued to deepen our cooperation in medicine and public health, economics and trade, and basic infrastructure. President Giammattei and I just witnessed the signing of a bilateral basic cooperation agreement, which will help create more diverse possibilities for new technical cooperation and exchanges.
In addition, during the pandemic, Taiwan and Guatemala cooperated to complete the design and construction of the National Hospital of Chimaltenango in just 18 months. Not only is the facility now in use, but the entire process spurred economic growth and brought employment opportunities to the people of Guatemala.
Taiwan and Guatemala are democratic partners who share values including freedom and respect for human rights. We have seen President Giammattei on numerous instances express public support for Ukraine to the international community, and he has even personally visited the frontline in Ukraine, demonstrating through concrete action the pursuit of international peace.
Last year when China conducted military exercises aimed at Taiwan, Guatemala immediately took a stand and spoke up for Taiwan. At many international venues, President Giammattei has supported Taiwan's international participation through various means, including letters and public statements.
President Giammattei previously described the relationship between Taiwan and Guatemala as "friendship means steadfast loyalty, through thick and thin," to which I wholeheartedly agree. Extending a helping hand in times of need is true friendship. We are deeply touched by President Giammattei's friendship with Taiwan, and we are extremely grateful for Guatemala's support.
I believe that through unity and cooperation, democratic partners can become more resilient and jointly overcome any challenge. Based on our solid foundation of cooperation, we look forward to continued joint efforts by Taiwan and Guatemala and the continued prosperity of both our countries.
In his remarks, President Giammattei said that in today's turbulent world, this visit by President Tsai and her delegation sends a message of unity, mutual assistance, cooperation, and hope to the world. Taiwan and Guatemala, he said, are strategic partners working tirelessly to defend the fundamental principles of international law and promote the resolution of disputes through dialogue and negotiation, working together to achieve the people's aspirations for freedom, prosperity, development, and sovereign integrity.
President Giammattei noted that the rock-solid friendship between Taiwan and Guatemala is built on a foundation of substantive mutual assistance. He added that the government of Guatemala has taken concrete actions to express support for Taiwan's participation in international organizations, and the government and people of Guatemala have praised Taiwan for its contributions during the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as Taiwan's valuable assistance to Guatemala in areas such as maternal and newborn healthcare, basic public healthcare, universal health insurance, and water conservation.
President Giammattei believes that President Tsai's visit has given Guatemala's government an opportunity to reaffirm its support for the Republic of China (Taiwan) and renew our bilateral friendship while at the same time reiterating the recognition that Taiwan is an independent, sovereign nation that shares democratic values with Guatemala.
President Giammattei stated that the economic model of the Republic of China (Taiwan) has also proved to the world that innovation and diligence can generate admirable economic growth and technological development. He pointed out that Taiwan, through its resilience, has shown the world that it is capable of overcoming global challenges, especially its efforts in maintaining peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait and across the world.
President Giammattei once again welcomed the members of the delegation to Guatemala, praised Taiwan for becoming a superb model for democratic partnership between nations under President Tsai's leadership, and closed his remarks by thanking President Tsai and her delegation for visiting, affirming that Guatemala is their home.