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News

Statement from the Republic of Guatemala

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December 10, 2009

Statement from the Governor General of Canada
and the President of the Republic of Guatemala

OTTAWA— The Right Honourable Michaëlle Jean, Governor General of Canada, is undertaking a State visit to Guatemala from December 9 to 12, accompanied by her husband, Mr. Jean-Daniel  Lafond; the Honourable Peter Kent, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, and a delegation, at the invitation of His Excellency Álvaro Colom Caballeros, President of Guatemala.

The Governor General was greeted with an honour ceremony at the National Palace of Culture, during which the President of Guatemala extended a warm welcome to her and invited her to change the Rose of Peace, a ceremony that symbolizes the end of the difficult internal conflict in Guatemala.

The two then met in the Presidential Office at the National Palace of Culture to discuss several issues on the bilateral agenda, which allowed for strengthening of the relations between the two countries.

The Guatemalan president explained to the Governor General the importance his country places on programs carried out under the framework of the Council for Social Cohesion, which has ensured services to the most destitute of Guatemalans. The Governor General was also pleased to learn of the commitment by the Government of Guatemala to strengthen democratic institutions and the rule of law, to combat social and economic marginalization, and to defend human rights. President Colom and the Governor General expressed satisfaction over the support that Canada provides to Guatemala to meet these challenges.

President Colom also acknowledged the success of the Temporary Worker Program for Guatemalans in Canada, which, this year, allowed more than four thousand Guatemalans to work legally in that country, and called it an example of how Canada is seeking creative means of forging a mutually beneficial relationship with Guatemala.

The Governor General of Canada expressed her interest in the vision of the Guatemalan president with respect to the Cuatro Balam project, the heart of which is based in the El Mirador archaeological site, one of the most important sites in Mayan civilization and home to the largest pyramid in the world in terms of mass.

After visiting the executive branch, the Governor General will visit the Congress of the Republic, where she will meet with deputy Roberto Alejos Cámbara, President of the Legislative Branch, and certain members of the board of directors. The delegation will then proceed to the Supreme Court of Justice, where the Canadian Governor General will be received by the President of that body, Judge Erick Alvarez, and where discussions will be held on matters of mutual interest.

The Governor General and her husband, along with the Canadian delegation, plan to meet with representatives of civil society in Guatemala, in order to exchange views on various subjects.

Canada is among the countries that have provided support to the strengthening of the International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG). The Governor General, as part of her state visit, will therefore be meeting with Commissioner Carlos Castresana.

On Friday, December 11, the Governor General will visit the sites of economic and rural development activities, among others, that are supported by the Canadian International Development Agency in the municipality of San Juan la Laguna, where she will meet with members of the Association of Women Weavers and with Indigenous communities.

The Governor General will also travel to the Adjacency Zone between Guatemala and Belize, as Canada is a member of the Group of Friends and contributes significantly to the programs executed under the Confidence-Building Measures in that area, with support from the Organization of American States. Finally, the Governor General and her husband will visit the archaeological site of Tikal, where, together with Guatemala’s Minister of Culture and Sport, they will learn about and be able to appreciate the historical and cultural heritage of Guatemala.

The Governor General expressed her gratitude to President Colom for the warm welcome she received by the people and government of Guatemala during her visit.

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A photo of the Governor General of Canada and the President of the Republic of Guatemala will be available for download after 5 p.m. (Eastern Standard Time) on the Marketwire website and on the Rideau Hall FTP site at http://media.gg.ca (username: media; password: osgg).

Media Information:
Marie-Ève Létourneau
Rideau Hall Press Office
613-998-0287
613-302-0912 (cell.)
meletourneau@gg.ca
www.gg.ca
www.citizenvoices.gg.ca