President Tsai Ing-wen and her accompanying delegation, who are currently in Central America on a trip codenamed the "Ing-Jie Project," arrived at 9:30 a.m. on Wednesday, January 11 local time (11:30 p.m. on January 11 Taipei time) in Guatemala City Airforce Base.
After President Tsai's chartered aircraft came to a halt on the tarmac, ROC Ambassador to Guatemala Lai Chien-chung (賴建中) and the Guatemalan chief protocol officer boarded the plane to welcome the president. Guatemalan Minister of Foreign Affairs Carlos Raul Morales welcomed President Tsai at the foot of the airstair, and then accompanied her in accepting a red-carpet military honor guard salute.
President Tsai and her delegation then proceeded to the National Palace of Culture, where Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales, Vice President Jafeth Cabrera, and Foreign Minister Morales welcomed them with military honors. After the playing of each country's national anthem, the two heads of state each delivered an address and introduced their respective cabinet members and the members of the visiting delegation.
President Morales also invited President Tsai to replace a rose on a bronze peace monument, a daily ritual symbolizing that peace will reign for another 24 hours in Guatemala.
During the welcoming ceremony, President Tsai said she felt honored to come to Guatemala, and especially to be welcomed with military honors at the National Palace of Culture, a historical building redolent with elegance and culture. On behalf of the government of the Republic of China, President Tsai extended the sincere greetings of the people of Taiwan to the government and people of Guatemala.
Noting that this was her first visit to Guatemala, President Tsai said that on the way from the airport to the National Palace of Culture she saw striking cityscapes, and the juxtaposition of new buildings and ancient churches clearly showed that Guatemala has a rich and exciting cultural heritage that accomplishes a fusion of history and modernity.
President Tsai stated that she was very much looking forward to taking advantage of this visit to learn all about Guatemala, and also to convey the friendship and warmth of Taiwan to friends in Guatemala.
President Tsai noted that Guatemala once went through a long civil war, but those dark days have come to an end thanks to the efforts of many people. These days, the government and people of Guatemala are boldly pursuing democracy and freedom, and are facing challenges with unity. The peace monument was placed here in order to commemorate the value of peace, said the president, who added that she deeply respects the people of Guatemala for their courage and wisdom.
President Tsai expressed the view that Taiwan and Guatemala are alike in that they have both experienced war and lived under authoritarian regimes, but Taiwan's determination to pursue democracy and peace has never changed.
President Tsai stressed that besides striving to engage with the international community and calling worldwide attention to Taiwan's value as a democracy, we also need to work together with Guatemala and other diplomatic allies, in line with the spirit of "steadfast diplomacy and mutual assistance for mutual benefits," to push forward with cooperation projects in technology, agriculture, infrastructure development, tourism, and other fields, and to expand bilateral economic, trade, and investment ties.
President Tsai also said she looked forward to engaging in in-depth discussions during this visit on a wide variety of issues, and hoped that the two countries in the future could continue enhancing their cultural exchanges, so that their diplomatic ties might keep growing stronger with each passing year. In concluding her remarks, the president, speaking on behalf of the entire delegation, once again thanked President Morales as well as the Guatemalan government and people for their warm hospitality.