GUATEMALA CITY – Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales on Wednesday named his Taiwanese counterpart, Tsai Ing-wen, Guatemala’s “Peace Ambassador” and presented her with the Order of Quetzal at an official ceremony.
Tsai, who on Wednesday will wrap up a visit to Guatemala, and her entourage – comprised of top-level officials, lawmakers and the heads of Taiwan’s most important firms – were received by Morales and his Cabinet at the National Palace of Culture.
Tsai and Morales listened to the two nation’s national anthems and gave speeches before the Taiwanese leader was designated peace ambassador and decorated at the special ceremony.
The event was intended to emphasize the spirit that on Dec. 29, 1996, permitted the concluding of a peace accord between the Guatemalan government and the country’s guerrillas, putting an end to the civil war that began in 1960 and resulted in more than a quarter million dead and missing.
The award is presented to citizens or foreigners who have significantly contributed to peace in the Central American nation.
In brief remarks, Tsai, Taiwan’s first female president, recalled the “very tough” years Guatemala experienced during the civil war and praised its desire for “peace and freedom” that many pursued with “courage,” ultimately bringing about an end to the conflict.
In addition, she said, Taiwan had experienced “wars and authoritarian times,” but “the firm conviction of achieving peace has remained unaltered.” She went on to express her desire for cooperation, trade and investment between the two countries.
In turn, Morales said he wants to continue maintaining the close political, economic and social ties, along with the tight cooperation between the two nations with an eye toward seeking the well-being of both peoples, and he thanked Taiwan for its help in the areas of healthcare, infrastructure, agriculture and educational scholarships.
Morales also expressed his country’s interest in “advancing on development initiatives, exploring aspects of the energy, technological, scientific and infrastructure sectors.”
The Order of Quetzal is the highest honor the Guatemalan government bestows on individuals and institutions making important contributions to society.
To reciprocate, Tsai presented the Order of Brilliant Jade to Morales, the highest distinction her government gives, for “defense of the bilateral ties” between the two countries.