Activities of Secretary-General in Guatemala, 15-17 March

21 March 2011

Activities of Secretary-General in Guatemala, 15-17 March

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon arrived in Guatemala City, Guatemala, on Tuesday night, 15 March.  The visit to Guatemala was his first since becoming Secretary-General.

On Wednesday morning, the Secretary-General met with Nobel Peace Price Laureate Rigoberta Menchu

He then travelled to the National Palace of Culture where, together with President Álvaro Colom Caballeros, there was a symbolic placing of roses in the Peace Court.

After that, the Secretary-General met with President Colom.  They discussed public insecurity, poverty, violence against women, regional issues, and the Millennium Development Goals.  They also agreed on the importance of the work of the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG).

He then held an expanded meeting with President Colom and his Cabinet, including the Ministers of Environment, Finance, Education and Agriculture, among others.  During that meeting, the Secretary-General expressed his alarm about rising crime and insecurity; abuses of human rights; and the need to end impunity.

Immediately after this meeting, the Secretary-General held a press stakeout with President Colom.  The Secretary-General underlined how Guatemala and the United Nations have a proud history and are partners in peacemaking, peacekeeping and peacebuilding.

Later in the morning, he spoke at a meeting with the regional leaders of Central America.  His speech focused on three “important and interlinked” issues: democratic security; social and economic development; and climate change.  The Secretary-General also spoke about the latest developments in Libya and Japan.  (See Press Release SG/SM/13450)

Following that, he participated in a press conference with the leaders of the region, telling reporters that the United Nations stands ready to assist in issues ranging from peace and justice to poverty reduction and increasing resilience to economic shocks and natural disasters.

The Secretary-General attended a luncheon hosted by President Colom before holding bilateral meetings with President Porfirio Lobo Sosa of Honduras; Prime Minister Dean Barrow of Belize; Vice-President Rafael Alburquerque de Castro of the Dominican Republic; Vice-President Juan Carlos Varela Rodríguez of Panama; and Foreign Minister Hugo Roger Martínez Bonilla of El Salvador.

The Secretary-General launched the United Nations Peacebuilding Fund’s engagement in Guatemala in the afternoon (see Press Release SG/SM/13451), before being decorated with the Order of the Quetzal, the country’s highest honour.

He ended his day by attending a state dinner in his honour hosted by President Colom.

The following morning, Thursday, 17 March, the Secretary-General inaugurated a monument in memory of Guatemalan blue helmets who lost their lives in United Nations peacekeeping operations, at the headquarters of the Guatemalan Chief of Staff.  The 11 fallen peacekeepers, he said, “showed what the United Nations stands for.  Peacekeeping is one of our flagship activities in pursuit of collective security.  When there is trouble, the burden is shared among different countries.”  (See Press Release SG/SM/13452)

The Secretary-General then met with civil society representatives, followed by a town hall meeting with United Nations staff members.

His last event in the country before travelling onward to Spain for an official visit was at the headquarters of the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG), where he expressed his strong support for the body’s staff and Commissioner Francisco Dall'Anese.  (See Press Release SG/SM/13455)

For information media. Not an official record.