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President Tsai arrives in Guatemala on diplomatic visit and attends welcoming reception
President Tsai arrives in Guatemala on diplomatic visit and attends welcoming reception

President Tsai Ing-wen, concluding her transit stop in New York, departed for the Republic of Guatemala. After a five-hour flight, her delegation arrived at an air force base in Guatemala City on the afternoon of March 31 local time (early morning of April 1 Taipei time). 

President Tsai's delegation was welcomed to Guatemala on the plane by Ambassador to Guatemala Miguel Li-Jey Tsao (曹立傑) and Guatemalan General Director of Protocol and Diplomatic Ceremonies David Vargas, and after alighting from the plane was received with military honors by Guatemalan Foreign Minister Mario Búcaro.

After greeting embassy personnel and their families and representatives from the Taiwan expatriate community, the president was driven to the hotel where she attended a reception with Taiwanese expatriates in Latin America, Taiwan technical mission personnel, and young people doing alternative national service.

A translation of President Tsai's remarks follows:

I departed from my transit stop in the US earlier this morning, and now, my first stop upon arriving here is to meet with all of you. The last time I came here was in 2017. It has indeed been a long time since we last saw each other. 

The world has just been through a pandemic lasting more than three years, which is now easing up enough to allow for travel. So, I am very happy to finally see you all in person here in Guatemala. We have with us today members from our expatriate communities in Panama, Dominican Republic, and El Salvador. I am truly grateful to each of you for making the trip here. I believe that no matter where we may find ourselves, everyone's heart will always be in the same place – Taiwan. And now that the pandemic is subsiding, I welcome you all to come back to Taiwan for a visit.

Over the past three-plus years, while working to overcome the challenges of the pandemic, Taiwan has seen many changes and has made many efforts. For example, from increasing childcare allowances and raising wages and lowering taxes for young people to implementing a Long-term Care 2.0 Plan for seniors, we are taking many thoughtful actions to care for the needs of people both young and old. We are also assisting businesses and industry in upgrading and transforming their operations and allocating a post-pandemic special budget to help them through these hard times.

You may have noticed that the international community has taken a positive view of Taiwan's performance in fighting the pandemic over the past several years. By donating disease prevention supplies to many countries, we have shown by our words and actions that "Taiwan can help."

Taiwan has become more of a global focus amid a changing international landscape. As Russia continues its invasion of Ukraine and global supply chains are restructured in the wake of the pandemic, Taiwan stands fast in its commitment to freedom and democracy, and our thriving semiconductor industry continues to play an important role in the global economy. Factors like these make Taiwan a shining star on the global stage, and bring international attention to our every endeavor.

Over the past three years, Taiwan has entered into new cooperative partnerships and made many achievements with its democratic and diplomatic partners. Thanks to your hard work in Guatemala, our allies can see the enthusiasm, the resilience, and the efforts of the Taiwanese people.

Our compatriots in Guatemala have invested in many sectors, including construction, manufacturing, and food processing. They have also been very active in import and export trade. In all these areas, the results are impressive, leading to many local job opportunities and spurring economic growth. 

We have with us here today officials from the embassy and our technical mission, young people doing alternative national service, and partners from Taiwan's Overseas Engineering & Construction Company. Whether you are working on international cooperation projects, or assisting with hospital construction, you all are utilizing your own professional skills to contribute to the development of Guatemala. I am convinced that these long-term, practical cooperative projects will convey Taiwan's friendship to the Guatemalan people in their daily lives.

In addition, a coffee purchasing mission organized by the Central America Trade Office is in Guatemala to explore business opportunities. Our government has always placed high priority on economic and trade diplomacy, so I want to thank the members of the coffee purchasing mission for your support. I wish you the best of success.

I also want to tell you that our embassy has worked with the private sector in Taiwan over the past several years to arrange donations of wheelchairs and other assistive devices in Guatemala. Donation ceremonies in Guatemala have been presided over by President [Alejandro] Giammattei. Such donations from Taiwan enable underprivileged persons in remote villages of Guatemala to live much safer and more convenient lives.

We all share the same goal. We all want to see Taiwan's efforts have positive impact in every part of the world. Each of you is a source of pride for Taiwan. I thank you all. Taiwan is lucky to have you.

As we continue our itinerary, I will have many interactions with President Giammattei, and I will witness the signing by our two countries of a basic Taiwan-Guatemala cooperation agreement, which will help further deepen our diplomatic relations.

Taiwan will not stop engaging with the world. Every extra effort that you can contribute here in Guatemala brings us that much closer to the rest of the world. I hope we can all work together to ensure that Taiwan continues to be a cornerstone in the global economy and a beacon of democracy in the world. We want to illuminate the path ahead for the democratic alliance as we navigate the many challenges. 

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