David McNaught

Deputy Head of Mission, British Embassy, Guatemala

Part of UK in Guatemala

16th May 2012 Guatemala City, Guatemala

Mixing business with pleasure

Our last blog previewed our visit to Guatemala’s second city, Quetzaltenango, or Xela as it’s also known locally, to participate in their First International Festival, “Xelaju es un Lugar Diferente”. Now that we’re back, we thought that we would share with you what a successful and fun time we had, disproving the theory that you can’t mix business with pleasure! Here to tell the story and give their impressions are three members of the Embassy team that joined me on the road trip, Sigrid, Eduardo and Antonio. 

What most impressed us was the excellent coordination and organization of the event by the Municipalidad de Xela (the local Council), supported enthusiastically by the local community, Quetzaltecos, keen to show-off their town and their commitment to promote its development. Over three days they organised a range of different activities to promote the commercial opportunities that Xela has to offer, and its culture, through parades, concerts, exhibitions and media events. We were asked to have a stand, which was visited by loads of university students keen to know more about the opportunities to study in the UK, and also by some British Citizens who were told about our consular services. 

We had a VIP visit as well: Dr Jorge Barrientos, Major of Xela, met with our Chargé d’Affaires, David, and the Embassy team to learn more about what we do in Guatemala and why Xela is important to us. He was very interested and excited to know about the London Olympics, and we gave him a London 2012 cap to wear in Xela to promote the Games and to encourage his fellow Quetzalecos to visit London (remember that Guatemalans don’t need a visa to visit the UK), especially when one of the athletes competing is Chivo! (the nickname for people from Xela).

We also had the opportunity to have one-on-one meetings with members of the Xela business community, such as the Chamber of Commerce and the “Red Nacional de Grupos Gestores”. Both explained to us the importance of the city as a hub for thousands of students and tourists from Western Guatemala and also Southern Mexico. They also highlighted their desire to know more about what Britain has to offer in terms of products and services that could be of the interest of Guatemalans. We were happy to oblige! 

David also gave two media interviews, one to the leading printed newspaper in Xela, “El Quetzalteco”, and the other to a prominent local radio station “Stereo Tulan”, that also reaches three other departments in Guatemala. He explained about our presence in Xela for the Festival, and the Embassy’s priorities for its work in Guatemala.

Xela is a beautiful town surrounded by an amazing landscape, it’s people warm and very welcoming of our presence there. We are thankful for the opportunity to visit again, which helped raise our profile and enabled us to learn more about the importance of Xela. It was an enjoyable trip, tiring at times but we were revitalized by some tasty food and, of course, Cabro beer. Don’t take our word for it, here’s some pictures of our fab weekend.

Thank you Xela for having us!

About David McNaught

I have been in Guatemala since August 2009 as Deputy Head of Mission in the British Embassy. For the next few months I'll be stand-in Ambassador - Charge d'Affaires in…

I have been in Guatemala since August 2009 as Deputy Head of Mission in the British Embassy. For the next few months I'll be stand-in Ambassador - Charge d'Affaires in diplomatic speak - until the arrival of our new Ambassador, Sarah Dickson. Julie Chappell, our former Ambassador, was a prolific blogger, so I hope I can match her energy as we have plenty of interesting material to blog about! You will also hear from our excellent Embassy team who are keen to continue blogging about their work and experiences in Guatemala.