Taiwan’s president concludes three-day visit to Guatemala

Guatemala City, Apr 2 (EFE).- Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen on Sunday wrapped up a three-day visit to Guatemala with the inauguration of a controversial hospital, built with funds from the Asian country and which has been recently involved in a multi-million dollar corruption case.

Ing-wen said that building the hospital, located in the Chimaltenango department, 50 kilometers (31 miles) from Guatemala City, in 18 months had not been an easy task.

She added that the hospital will serve to provide better medical care services for 720,000 local residents and more than 2 million residents in five surrounding provinces.

Tsai emphasized that in the future, Taiwan and Guatemala will continue to support each other and deepen cooperation in various fields while upholding the goal of practical diplomacy and mutual assistance.

She said that Taiwan will support the long-term development of friendly nations and continue to cooperate with international democratic partners.

Ing-wen made these remarks during the official handover of the hospital from Taiwan to Guatemala, in a ceremony attended by Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei.

“We have experienced three days of fruitful work that has served to reaffirm once again the deep bonds of friendship and cooperation that unite Guatemala and Taiwan,” Giammattei said during his speech.

The handover of the hospital brought to a close Ing-wen’s three-day visit to Guatemala, which took place weeks after Honduras broke an eight-decades-old relationship with Taiwan to establish diplomatic ties with China.

“Today, unfortunately, we arrive at the last day of your visit, and we do it in this iconic building and in this Chimaltenango Hospital, a product of the economic and technical cooperation of the Republic of China, Taiwan,” Giammattei added.

The operation of the new hospital has been marked by a multi-million dollar case of corruption linked to the Giammattei administration.

On Mar. 20, Vice Minister of Health Gerardo Hernández was arrested after several days on the run, for allegedly conspiring to defraud the State with the purchase of $8.5 million worth of equipment for the hospital.

The director of the Chimaltenango Hospital, Gerardo Fuentes, and a representative of the company, Voltar Intermedia, S.A., Luisa Fernanda Villagran, have also been accused.

Giammattei and Ing-wen took a tour of the hospital without making any statements to the media.

The Taiwanese president, who arrived in Guatemala on Friday, departed on Sunday for Belize, where she will hold a meeting on the following day with local authorities.

Guatemala and Taiwan celebrated 62 years of bilateral relations in November.

Together with Belize, Guatemala is the only Central American country that maintains contact with the island, after Panama, El Salvador, the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua and Honduras cut links with Taiwan in recent years in favor of ties with China.

China claims sovereignty over Taiwan, which it views as a rebel province since Kuomintang nationalists fled there in 1949 after losing the civil war against the Communists. EFE


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