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Sarah Dickson

Ambassador to Guatemala (June 2012 - June 2015)

Part of UK in Guatemala

14th May 2013

Promoting London’s Olympic legacy in Guatemala’s second city, Xela

With the Ambassador in London at the FCO’s Leadership Conference, this is a guest blog from Hector Marroquin, our Prosperity Officer.

Last weekend we went to Quetzaltenango, Guatemala’s second city, also known as Xela, to take part in their Cultural and Business Festival, “XelajuEs… Diferente!”

This was the second year the Municipality of Xela had organized the festival, and the second time we had participated. After the success of our visit last year, we were keen to go back.  Our main goal was to boost further the UK’s profile in Xela, a commercial and education hub in south-west Guatemala. Given the nature of the festival, we focused our participation on three priority areas of our work here: trade, education and human rights.

Given that Xela has been elected host city for the Central America and Caribbean Games in 2018 we wanted to share London’s experience and legacy having successfully hosted the Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2012. We handed the Mayor information about this, and will be following up our interest with him and Guatemala’s Olympic Committee. We also talked whisky: the UK’s exports to Guatemala in 2012 were worth $40million and included whisky, amongst other goods.

We met with Universidad Rafael Landivar to explore future education, English language and volunteering projects.

We also visited Nuevos Horizontes (New Horizons), a women’s refuge that had received UK funds via the domestic violence campaign, Rompe el Ciclo, which we continue to support. Watch this space for information about the campaign’s next big event, on 31 May.

Through our stand at the fair, and the TV and press interviews we did, we reached thousands of locals to share with them the work we do, and to raise the UK’s profile. After meeting with the Municipality, we’re keen to host a mini-UK film festival in 2013. This will be part of our promotion of the UK government’s GREAT campaign that promotes the very best of Great Britain.

The effort of attending and taking part in the event was well worth it… now back in the Embassy, we have to start working on making the opportunities we learned about in Xela into realities, especially those that can help the UK do business here.

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