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Sarah Dickson

Ambassador to Guatemala (June 2012 - June 2015)

Part of UK in Guatemala

26th June 2014

In the Land of Eternal Spring

Rt Hon Hugo Swire MP visited Guatemala and has written this blog about his experiences during the visit:

This is my first trip as Minister for Latin America to Guatemala, and I am very pleased to have had the opportunity to experience at first hand this important and beautiful country – the largest economy in Central America. My visit is also evidence of Britain’s commitment to developing a closer relationship with the whole of Latin America, and follows the close co-operation we had with Guatemala during its time as member of the UN Security Council. My visit also follows the highly successful visit by Guatemalan Ministers to the UK last month, and the well attended Central America Business Opportunities Conference organized by the Central American Business Council earlier this year.

I was fortunate to see at first hand UK businesses working together with Guatemalan companies for the mutual benefit of both our countries, and hopefully an example of the increasingly closer links between our two regions as the EU- Central America Association Agreement comes into force. An example being the export of high quality agricultural machinery from the UK to Guatemala to help make this sector more efficient and competitive, increase output and subsequently improve employment prospects for the local population. I was also able to listen to the issues and concerns faced by UK investors in the energy sector – an area where the UK is heavily involved, and which presents its own unique challenges and opportunities.


I had a very productive meeting with President Molina and Foreign Minister Carrera at which we discussed a wide range of issues. I am particularly impressed by the efforts Guatemala has shown in reinvigorating the debate on international drugs policy, and the leadership role they have taken on this subject. The UK stands ready to actively participate in this important area to reduce the debilitating effect the illegal drugs trade has on the security, well-being and economies of Central America.

I also took the time to visit a project the British Embassy is supporting in Chimaltenango to assist indigenous women affected by the problem of sexual violence. This is a personal priority of Foreign Secretary William Hague, and comes a couple of weeks after the highly successful Global Summit held in London which was also attended by the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative Angeline Jolie. This is an important subject for Guatemala as it comes to terms with managing the legacy of its 36-year internal conflict, and one which we are helping to address. Following on from this I was particularly grateful to be able to meet the new Attorney General, Dr. Thelma Aldana and discuss her plans for the future.

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I was also pleased to be able to attend the presentation of a study on the Falklands produced by a group of academics from Marroquin University following their recent visit to the islands. This is an important subject, particularly in this part of the world. The subsequent discussion amongst invited participants was lively and wide-ranging. I believe that events like this are very valuable in dispelling the myths and inaccurate information put forward by the Argentinean government. Only by open discussion and explaining the reality of island life can we ensure that people are aware of the islanders’ position, their hopes for the future, and the damaging effects of the current Argentinean government’s policy of obstructiveness and non-cooperation.

I will leave Guatemala with a renewed sense of hope for the country. I believe that the future is one of increased prosperity and improved social cohesion. Guatemala has a great future, and I hope that wherever we can the UK will work with and assist wherever possible in ensuring Guatemala reaches its full potential.

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