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Canada-Guatemala relations

Bilateral relations

Canada and Guatemala have a long-standing and positive relationship, spanning more than 60 years. 

Canada is committed to working with Guatemala on strengthening climate change resilience, economic opportunities, democracy and governance, security and defense cooperation, and addressing irregular migration, while supporting the fight against impunity and corruption. In doing so, Canada contributes to the protection and promotion of the rights of the most vulnerable, including women and girls, Indigenous, and rural populations.

Guatemala is also Canada’s largest bilateral trading partner in Central America. Looking to the future, Canada remains committed to support Guatemala’s efforts towards building a more inclusive, democratic and prosperous society. 

Guatemala is represented in Canada by an Embassy in Ottawa and Consulates in Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver. Canada is represented in Guatemala by an embassy in Guatemala City.

Political relations

Canada supported the International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) financially in 2019.

Canada has expressed concern over the ongoing attacks and abuses against human rights defenders in the country, as reported by local and international organizations. Canada remains committed to working with Guatemala to strengthen institutions, rule of law, human rights and inclusive economic growth.  

Canada also supports security programs, including the Anti-Crime Capacity Building Program and the Peace and Stabilization Operations Program, by funding projects aimed at improving citizen security, justice, and fundamental human rights over the past several years. Other projects have supported initiatives focusing on increasing capabilities to address migrant smuggling and human trafficking, kidnapping, extortion, money laundering and the proceeds of crime, security system reform, and crime prevention.

The Department of National Defense/Canadian Armed Forces are engaged in cooperation with Guatemala in the areas of capacity building, peace support operations training, and efforts to address transnational criminal organizations, and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.

Education

Since the launch of the Emerging Leaders in the Americas Program (ELAP) program in 2009, Guatemalan students have been granted scholarships for study and research in Canada.

Territorial dispute between Belize and Guatemala

Guatemala has had a border dispute with Belize since its independence. Canada is a member of the Group of Friends of the Belize-Guatemala Transition Process and has supported efforts to peacefully resolve the border dispute for many years, including through funding for the Office of the OAS in the Adjacency Zone. Following referenda in both Belize (May 2019) and Guatemala (April 2018), the countries agreed to refer the dispute to the International Court of Justice.

Trade relations

Guatemala is Canada's largest bilateral trading partner in the region. Canada’s main exports include cereals, paper and paperboard, fats and oils, aircraft and parts, pharmaceutical products, fertilizers, plastics, and vehicles. Canada’s main imports from Guatemala include fruits and nuts, coffee, tea and spices, vegetables, knitted apparel, and sugar.

Canada is very engaged in promoting Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) in Guatemala. The Canadian Embassy in Guatemala uses a multi-faceted approach to promote Canada’s CSR Strategy, including encouraging open and constructive dialogue on issues such as human rights, community consultations and sustainable development among key stakeholders, including government officials, local communities, Indigenous groups, civil society, and private sector.

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Development

Canada has had a development program in Guatemala since 1976. Canada’s bilateral programming in Guatemala is aligned with Canada’s feminist international assistance policy and focuses on supporting the most vulnerable, including women and girls, Indigenous peoples, and rural populations through the action areas of Inclusive Governance and Growth that works for everyone, with a strong focus on Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women and Girls The bilateral development program supports long-term development, with focus on three of the country’s departments with high poverty levels and where the population is largely Indigenous (Alta Verapaz, Sololá and Chimaltenango).

Canada responded to the Guatemalan request for support during the global pandemic by providing funding for the procurement of medical supplies and systems and distributing vaccines through the COVAX program. Canada also aided in combatting the forest fires of the Peten region and providing support to the International Federation of the Red Cross for its regional appeal and humanitarian assistance in response to Hurricane Eta in 2020.

Overall, Canadian development programming in Guatemala, including via the Canada Fund for Local Initiatives, is aligned with the Government of Guatemala’s development priorities, as illustrated in Guatemala’s National Plan of Development. Canada is also committed to addressing:

  • the root causes of irregular migration and forced displacement:
  • lack of economic opportunities, inequality and the exacerbating impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic;
  • insecurity and violence, including sexual and gender-based violence;
  • climate change and recovery from hurricanes Eta and Iota;
  • governance, corruption and impunity issues;
  • systemic gender and ethnic inequality; and
  • women’s rights, including sexual and reproductive health and rights. 

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