State Secretary for International Cooperation visits Honduras and Guatemala on her first official tour

​The State Secretary for International Cooperation, Pilar Cancela Rodríguez, has rounded off her Central American trip with a visit to Honduras and Guatemala, in what has been her first official tour, to assess the main projects with which Spanish Cooperation is contributing to the social and economic improvement of the citizens of these countries through education, culture and sustainable development.
“The Bicentenary of the Independence of Guatemala provides an ideal opportunity to strengthen the common ties that unite us with Guatemala and look to a future committed to the sustainable development goals in which no one can be left behind”, explained Pilar Cancela, after recalling that Central America was the origin of Spanish Cooperation: first, with Honduras in 1981, then followed by Guatemala in 1987.
The visit to Honduras began with a trip to the Comayagua Drinking Water Treatment Plant of the Water and Sanitation Cooperation Fund (Spanish acronym; FCAS), which benefits 40,000 people. Together with Karen Najarro, the Honduran Under-Secretary for Cooperation and International Promotion, Pilar Cancela highlighted the importance of projects of this type, which help implement the Human Right to Water and Sanitation.

Pilar Cancela also held meetings with representatives from organisations for human rights defence, including Indyra Mendoza, a LTGBI rights activist, and Laura Zúñiga, the daughter of Berta Cáceres, as well as the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in Honduras, UN Women in Honduras, UNDP and UNICEF, who are strategic partners for the achievement of the results established in the Country Framework of Association (Spanish acronym: MAP) for 2020-2023. She also discussed the country’s present and future projects with Fanny Salinas, President of the Central American Parliament (PARLACEN), and the current situation in Honduras.

During her visit to the Technological Cooperation Office (Spanish acronym: OTC) and the Spanish Cultural Centre in Tegucigalpa, the State Secretary also expressed her thanks to the team of Spanish and local workers for their day-to-day work, “in particular during the pandemic, which still has a very significant presence in the Honduran country”. While there, she met with the Spanish NGOs working in Honduras that are now running projects dealing with food security, local development, democratic governance and gender using funds from the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation, (Spanish acronym; AECID). 

MAP 2021-2024 with Guatemala

On her arrival in Guatemala, the State Secretary met with the staff of the OTC in Guatemala, with whom she covered the main projects on heritage, water and sanitation and gender violence. She then joined the 11th Joint Cooperation Committee to sign the approval of the new Country Association Framework (MAP) 2021-2024 with Keila Gramajo, General Secretary for Planning of the Government of Guatemala. “With the approval of this MAP, Guatemala and Spain have demonstrated their shared commitment to sustainable development. Spain has been and will continue to be a significant partner of the country in its efforts to promote this development”, explained the State Secretary.

During her visit to the Training Centre of Antigua, Pilar Cancela expressed her thanks to the work of the 14 Spanish NGOs which work on the ground to reach “places where the Guatemalan state has a weaker presence”.

On the occasion of the World Day against Sexual Exploitation and the Trafficking of Women and Children, the State Secretary held an event with local organisations which fight for this cause. She noted that “as well as the cooperation between countries, prevention is needed at all levels to ensure there are no more victims in these networks”. She also inaugurated the exhibition “Emancipated and Emancipating Women” (Emancipadas y Emancipadores), which highlights the role played by women in the processes of emancipation in the independence process of Central American countries.
"More a contemporary art show or a piece of research”, she pointed out, the exhibition “is an exercise in dialogue with the current concerns of Central American society and an opportunity to construct new visualities and new stories that are more in line with the reality of the challenges faced by the region”.

The exhibition is being held in the Cultural Centre of Spain, the most visited cultural site in the country and an essential instrument for the development of Guatemalan culture as an industry. Pilar Cancela recalled that this Cultural Centre “is now a decade old and has established its position as a key resource within the cultural life of the country. It is an innovative model that has made a difference to Spanish cultural diplomacy in Central America, and represents a commitment to the twin areas of culture and development, where the opening up of spaces for dialogue and exchange is a key to success”.

Her busy agenda in Guatemala was completed with a visit to the Workshop School in the historic centre of the City of Guatemala. This is the oldest and most successful workshop/school of its kind in Guatemala, with an 80% rate of job placement. She also had a meeting with a leading indigenous woman in the country. Pilar Cancela exchanged views with them on issues such as gender violence and chronic malnutrition, as well as her vision on the political participation of women.

She expressed the commitment of Spanish Cooperation with indigenous peoples, not only in Guatemala, but in Latin America as a whole, through the Cooperation Strategy with Indigenous Peoples, whose overall objective, she explained, is to “contribute to the recognition and effective exercise of the right of indigenous peoples to articulate their own processes of social, economic, political and cultural development”.






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