LatinNews Daily - 03 April 2023

In brief: Taiwan’s president completes visit to Guatemala

*Guatemala’s President Alejandro Giammattei has met Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen during a visit by the latter to Guatemala. The visit drew much scrutiny following Honduras’s recent decision to break ties with Tapei in favour of mainland China, the latest in a string of Central American countries to make the switch, leaving just Guatemala and Belize as allies of Taiwan. President Tsai’s visit to Guatemala, which took place from 31 March to 2 April, produced various pledges of cooperation. President Giammattei cited as one of the initiatives agreed, a US$4m contribution to modernise corn production in rural areas. During her visit, Tsai visited a hospital in Chimaltenango department which had been built with a donation from Taiwan at a cost of over some US$22m and which opened in February. However, the new hospital, which has over 300 beds and will also serve the departments of Sacatepéquez, Sololá and Quiché, has proven contentious. On 15 March, the attorney general’s office announced an investigation into fraud allegations regarding the acquisition of equipment worth over Q67m (US$8.6m) for which an arrest warrant was issued for deputy health minister Gerardo Hernández, who was detained on 20 March. The Guatemalan government also highlighted as other recent cooperation from Taiwan, the donation of 300 tonnes of white rice in March 2023, a Q16.4m donation in 2021 for medical equipment, food, and coronavirus (Covid-19) tests, and over 410 scholarships donated by Taiwan under the Giammattei government which took office in January 2020.

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