Relations between Taiwan and Paraguay remain strong and both countries would continue ongoing joint projects, President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) said yesterday.
Ma made the remarks at a meeting with Enrique Salyn Buzarquis Caceres, speaker of the Chamber of Deputies of Taiwan’s only South American ally.
Paraguay forged ties with the Republic of China in 1957. Despite the long history of friendship, there were reports that Asuncion had considered switching allegiance to China when Paraguayan President Fernando Lugo, a leftist and a former bishop, was elected to office last April. In an effort to safeguard relations, Ma flew to Asuncion in August on his first foreign tour as president to attend Lugo’s inauguration.
Prior to his victory, Lugo went on the record assaying he was open to establishing relations with all countries, including China.
Last September Paraguay declined to throw its weight behind Taiwan’s annual UN bid.
“We will no longer vote [at the UN] for Taiwan despite the fact we recognize the aid the country has provided,” Lugo was quoted saying in an Associated Press report at the time.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs says that Lugo has been unable to visit Taiwan because of his busy schedule in dealing with domestic matters.
Ma yesterday recalled attending Lugo’s inauguration and meeting many important policy makers and said that bilateral links were expected to be further strengthened as the two nations continue their agricultural, military and economic cooperation.
In related news, a Central News Agency (CNA) report yesterday said that former Panamanian ambassador to Taiwan Jose Antonio Dominguez insisted Taiwan had not made any direct donation to the former Moscoso administration as a fund mismanagement trial continues against Ruby Moscoso, a sister of the former president Mireya Moscoso who served as the first lady.
It has been alleged that the Moscosos fraudulently used US$13.7 million of a US$45 million donation given by Taiwan in 2004 to the Mar de Sur Foundation, a state-created social welfare program. The former government officials said that the money was under the control of the foundation, not the administration.
In an interview with CNA, Panamanian Ambassador Simon Ko (柯森耀) declined to comment on the trial, saying the Taiwan government respects Panama’s judicial process and that it would be inappropriate for him to comment on the case.