Guatemala President visits to strengthen bilateral ties

Guatemalan President Alejandro Giamatel arrived in Taiwan yesterday for his first state visit to strengthen bilateral ties amid heightened tensions across the Taiwan Strait.

Jia Ma Taiyi met with Taiwan Foreign Minister Wu Zhaoxie at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport at around 5:30 in the morning.

He made no public statement upon his arrival.

Photo: AFP/Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Before his departure, Jamatei wrote on Twitter that he had prepared “a suitcase full of emotions and good news to strengthen the bond and brotherhood between our two countries”.

“We also went to Taiwan to send a very clear message to the world that countries have the right to self-government,” he wrote. “Their own territory will not be threatened.”

The four-day visit is Jamatei’s first visit to Taiwan as Guatemalan president. He had visited Taiwan in October 2019 as president-elect.

Presidential Palace Spokesperson Lin Huichan said that President Tsai Ing-wen was scheduled to welcome Jamathei with a military salute and a state banquet yesterday, and awarded him the Emerald Medal of the Grand Order.

Enacted in 1933, the Grand Medal is the highest medal issued by the Republic of China and can only be worn by the head of state.

Giammattei is also scheduled to address the Legislative Chamber today.

It will be the first time in 13 years that a foreign head of state has spoken in Taiwan’s top legislature.

Former Kiribati President Annuo Tang delivered a speech at the Legislative Yuan in June 2010, when Kiribati and Taiwan formally established diplomatic relations.

Tsai plans to accompany Giammattei on a tour of RAC Electric Vehicles in Taichung and on a month-long celebration of Guatemala’s coffee culture in Taipei, which will include a coffee cart promoting the country’s beer across Taiwan, Lin said.

Jamatei’s delegation included Congress President Shirley Rivera, Foreign Minister Mario Bucaro, Finance Minister Edwin Osvaldo Martínez Cameros, Agriculture, Livestock and Food Minister Edgar Rene de Leon Moreno, Economy Minister Janio Rosales Alegria.

Jamatei’s visit was scheduled to travel to and from the United States, following Tsai’s state visit to Guatemala and Belize earlier this month.

Of the 13 countries that have formal diplomatic ties with Taiwan, Guatemala and Belize are the only two in Central America after Honduras switched allegiance to Beijing late last month.

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