Guatemala City, Guatemala

16 March 2011

Secretary-General's remarks at press encounter with President Alvaro Colom Caballeros of Guatemala

SG: Estoy feliz de estar aquí en Guatemala, el país de la eterna primavera. [“I am very happy to be in Guatemala, the country of eternal Spring.”]

Thank you, Mr. President, for your very warm welcome. I am overwhelmed by such warm hospitality from the people of Guatemala.

Guatemala and the United Nations have a proud history. We are partners in peacemaking, peacekeeping and now peacebuilding.

The UN and the Government are working together for security, human rights and justice. And we are joining together to bring Guatemala's expertise and experience to the world through its participation in UN operations.

When Guatemala needed us, the United Nations helped facilitate peace negotiations that brought an end to decades of armed conflict. The United Nations established MINUGUA, which for ten years verified the implementation of the peace accords.

Now, Guatemalan troops are serving with peacekeepers in Haiti and in conflict zones such as the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Sudan and Côte d'Ivoire. A distinguished Guatemalan, Edmond Mulet, is my Special Representative in Haiti. I am especially pleased that a number of Guatemalan women are serving in UN peacekeeping operations.

I value this contribution, but I know it has taken a toll. Tomorrow I will solemnly dedicate a monument to the Guatemalan UN peacekeepers who died while serving the cause of peace.

The only way to truly honour their sacrifice is to carry on our work for peace, security and justice, here in Guatemala and around the world.

President Colom understands this. The Guatemalan President and I just had very constructive talks on a number of important issues that concern us both, including public insecurity, poverty, violence against women, regional issues, and the Millennium Development Goals. I am very pleased that all cabinet ministers have kindly briefed us on the implementation of those important policies.

We fully agreed on the importance of the work of the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala, CICIG. I expressed the UN's strong support for CICIG and Commissioner Francisco Dall'Anese.

I also met with your members of the Cabinet. I voiced my alarm about rising crime and insecurity in Guatemala. I am particularly concerned about abuses of human rights. Ending impunity is critical to protecting all Guatemalans from violence.

That is why later today, I will meet with the parties to the National Agreement on Promoting Security and Justice. I will announce that the United Nations will provide additional support to fight impunity and crime. I am also looking forward to meeting tomorrow with representatives of civil society, including indigenous peoples.

We have to foster security for all Guatemalans and their children. I am sure the people of Guatemala agree they did not end 36 years of armed conflict only to see violence take other forms. Now it is time to end all violence.

Guatemala is known throughout the world for its ecological diversity, its rich culture, and its proud history. Our shared challenge today is to ensure that Guatemala also earns a reputation as a haven of justice, respect for human rights, and true security. We have serious work ahead. The United Nations stands with Guatemala as we press on for a better future for all.

Muchas gracias por todo su apoyo.

Thank you