Address by Minister of State Ablonczy in Guatemala

October 11, 2012 - Guatemala City, Guatemala

Check Against Delivery

Thank you, Minister Caballeros, for your words and for your very gracious hospitality.

Last January, I had the pleasure of attending the inauguration of President Pérez Molina here in Guatemala City.

During my visit, I met with Minister Caballeros and told him how much I was looking forward to working with the new Guatemalan administration, especially in the context of Canada’s engagement on the issues of security and justice in Central America.

The Americas is a foreign policy priority for Canada—we are neighbours, and what matters in the region matters very much to us.

My job, as minister of state of foreign affairs for the Americas, is to deepen Canada’s engagement in the Americas and to help realize our shared goals. In working alongside partners like Minister Caballeros, we hope to increase economic opportunity, strengthen security and institutions, and build lasting relationships throughout the hemisphere with our Americas partners.

We all have a part to play in building an environment where prosperity and democracy can flourish. Here in Guatemala, I know that the government has taken steps to reform the country’s fiscal system and enhance security, which are essential elements of a stable society.

The Canadian private sector also has a role to play as it has the technology and know-how to assist Guatemala in creating a safe and prosperous environment for citizens.

A safe society is one where violence is prevented, where citizens live without fear, and where its most vulnerable members are protected from exploitation and abuse.

I take this occasion to offer Canada’s sincere condolences following the tragic events in Totonicapán. We encourage and support the Government of Guatemala in its efforts to solve these conflicts.

In fact, our government has put over $165 million toward security initiatives in the Americas in partnership with our neighbours.

I am pleased to announce today that the Government of Canada is putting $3.3 million in funding toward three new security and justice projects in Guatemala.

In partnership with the United Nations Children’s Fund Guatemala, Canada will help address the critical problem of violence against children.

This project aims to reinforce the Guatemalan justice and security system in order to detect cases of violence against children, ensure that the victims are taken care of in a safe and familiar environment, and enable them to reintegrate into their community and move on toward a better life.

But of course, we want to stop the violence before it starts.

To that end, together with the Centre for International Studies and Cooperation we will support community efforts to develop plans and actions to prevent violence against women and girls in Central America—here in Guatemala and also in El Salvador.

I am particularly pleased to make these announcements today on the International Day of the Girl.

Today, the world’s nations draw attention to the situation of girls around the globe and the need to advance and protect their rights.

Canada places a high priority on advocating for the full participation of women and girls at all levels of society. Respect for them truly is good for all of us.

Finally, a safe and secure society must protect and defend all its citizens.

That is why Canada will support the archives of the National Police and the Forensic Anthropology Foundation of Guatemala. The work of these valuable organizations increases access for prosecutors and human rights lawyers to scientific evidence so that they may successfully present their cases.

Canada is proud to cooperate in building a better future for people in Guatemala, and by extension for all citizens of the Americas.

Once again, thank you to Minister Caballeros for your hospitality. I look forward to spending more time today here in your very beautiful country.

Thank you.