Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei speaks during a joint statement with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-Wen (not in picture) at the National Palace of Culture (seat of government) in Guatemala City, Guatemala on 31 March, 2023. EFE-EPA FILE/Esteban Biba

Guatemala’s president arrives in Taiwan on 4-day state visit

Beijing, Apr 24 (EFE).- Guatemala’s President Alejandro Giammattei arrived in Taiwan on Monday on a four-day official visit during which he will reaffirm his country’s friendship with the island and send “a message to the world about respect for the independence of nations.”

In a video recorded at the Taipei airport and posted on Twitter, the president referred to Taiwan as a “partner, ally and friend, a fellow nation that fights for its sovereignty and freedom and which Guatemala accompanies with all its strength.”

Giammattei, who was received by Taiwanese Foreign Minister Joseph Wu, previously visited the island in 2019 as president-elect, although this is his first state visit, which takes place amid rising tensions in the Taiwan Strait separating China and the island.

Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen will receive her Guatemalan counterpart with full military honors and a state banquet in his honor. She will also confer on him the Order of Brilliant Jade with Grand Cordon, which is the highest order awarded by Taiwan and can only be worn by the head of a nation.

According to the Taiwanese presidency, Giammattei’s agenda will also include a visit to the facilities of the electric vehicle manufacturer RAC in Taichung and an event celebrating Guatemalan coffee culture, among other activities.

He is also scheduled to address the Taiwanese parliament on Tuesday.

Giammattei is accompanied by the president of the Guatemalan Congress, Shirley Joanna Rivera, Foreign Minister Mario Adolfo Búcaro Flores and the ministers of public finance, agriculture and finance.

Giammattei’s visit comes just weeks after Ing-wen traveled to Guatemala as part of a tour that also included a stop in Belize and two stops in the United States, drawing angry protests from China.

Guatemala – which celebrated 62 years of ties with the island in November – and Belize are the only two remaining diplomatic partners of Taiwan in Central America after Honduras broke its ties with Taipei on Mar. 26 to establish them with China.

Honduras is the ninth country – and the fifth Latin American nation – to cut ties with the island in favor of China since 2016, following in the footsteps of Panama, El Salvador, the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua, among others.

Following Tsai’s visit to Guatemala in early April, Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson expressed hope that the Central American country would “see the trend of the world” and “make the right choice.”

Beijing claims sovereignty over Taiwan, considering it a rebel province since Kuomintang nationalists withdrew there in 1949 after losing the civil war against the communists. EFE