Honduran Second Vice President Olga Alvarado on May 31 met with a group of young Hondurans from all over Taiwan to honor them and recognize their contributions and hard work. The event was organized by the Honduran embassy in Taipei, in collaboration with members of the Honduran Association in Taiwan.
It took place on the last day of a five-day state visit — Alvarado’s first trip to the nation — during which she and a Honduran delegation of seven members met with Taiwanese officials and visited different nonprofit organizations to talk about bilateral cooperation in fields including agriculture, education and public health.
Alvarado has served as Honduran youth minister, and social integration and development deputy minister, and as someone who has always been involved in youth activities, she made time to attend the ceremony and deliver appreciation certificates to the awardees.
Some were sportspeople, such as Elias Argueta, Javier Funes and Daniel Torres, who all play for the Taiwan Football Premier League.
Mario Caceres, the first foreign cadet to be allowed to carry the Taiwanese flag at an official event for his outstanding performance at his military school, was also honored.
Certificates were also given to Hondurans who are helping to develop the business ties between Honduras and Taiwan, such as Christian Reyes, who recently opened up a coffee shop called Nigen Coffee in Taoyuan.
The members of the Honduran Cultural Group and the Honduran Association in Taiwan were given special recognition.
Alvarado’s visit shows that the Central American country intends to maintain a good, long-lasting relationship with Taiwan and recognizes Taiwan’s collaboration in areas such as education, healthcare and agriculture since the two countries established diplomatic ties in 1941.
Alvarado on May 28 met with President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文). They discussed different cooperation projects to improve the global health network and achieve sustainable development, and Tsai thanked Honduras for speaking up on Taiwan’s behalf at the World Health Assembly.
Tsai said that cooperation between the two countries has continued to grow steadily and cited the Honduran avocado program for as an example.
State-run Taiwan Agriculture Investment Co recently opened a subsidiary in Honduras to help Hondurans improve their avocado production and marketing capabilities, she said.
This is not the first time that Alvarado and Tsai have discussed the topic; they talked about avocados and coffee when they met in Paraguay.
At the time, National Security Council Deputy Secretary-General Tsai Ming-yen (蔡明彥) gave a brief description of their plan for Honduran avocados.
“This includes helping Honduras develop healthy avocado seedlings, and helping with the entire process of production, marketing and purchasing. In the short term, these high-quality avocados will be marketed to neighboring markets,” Tsai Ming-yen said. “In the long term, we hope Taiwan can become the Honduran marketing headquarters in Asia.”
Taiwan is also helping Honduras improve its coffee industry. Taiwan Sugar Corp is already working with some Honduran farmers to build their coffee brands, and Honduran coffee can already be purchased on the Taiwan High Speed Rail.
Alvarado’s visit is positive with regards to the relationship between the two countries, and comes a few months after former Honduran ambassador to Taiwan Rafael Fernando Sierra Quesada moved on to a new assignment in Washington.
Sierra arrived in Taiwan in February 2015, to assume a role that had been vacant for more than 18 months, resulting in speculation that Honduras might had been thinking about switching diplomatic ties to China.
However, this was far from the truth. During his four-year tenure, he was credited with improving the bilateral relations between Taiwan and Honduras, especially in the trade sector, where he promoted the export of Honduran beef, seafood and coffee, among other products, to Taiwan.
Statistics show that five years ago Honduras was ranked as Taiwan’s 94th largest trading partner, with a bilateral trade volume of US$118 million, but last year, Honduras was ranked 78th, with a bilateral trade volume of US$153 million.
Before leaving Taiwan, Sierra tweeted in Spanish that “all good things come to an end... The best thing about Taiwan is not its beaches or its scenery, the best that Taiwan has, is its people.”
He also told reporters that “Taiwan-Honduras ties are now stronger than ever,” and that during his tenure, the diplomatic relationship was never in peril.
Alvarado is not the first high-profile figure to visit Taiwan this year. In April, Honduran first lady Ana Garcia visited to show that the relationship between the countries remains strong and to participate in the farewell ceremony organized by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for Sierra.
During her visit, she met with Tsai Ing-wen, who expressed the hope that they could work together each other on cooperative national development.
She also visited Providence University in central Taiwan.
University president Chuan Yi Tang (唐傳義) emphasized the trade relations between the two countries and said that he would like to open a Providence University campus in Honduras one day.
The first lady has visited Taiwan four times and has worked closely with Taiwan’s embassy in Honduras on humanitarian relief projects, according to the ministry.
All of these are positive developments that pave the way for a long and harmonious relationship between Honduras and Taiwan.
Taiwanese deserve the loyalty of the people in the countries that they have helped for so many decades.
Earlier this month, the Taiwan International Cooperation Development Fund published a list of new scholarship awardees who are to further their studies in Taiwan at the beginning of September.
I hope that like so many of us who came to Taiwan to pursue a better education, they also fall in love with this beautiful place and its people, and they do their best to one day repay this incredible nation for the many opportunities it has and continues to provide us.
Juan Fernando Herrera Ramos is a Honduran lawyer residing in Taiwan.
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