Guatemala’s president on Monday called his nation a US ally that backs Taiwan over China, emphasizing his government’s alignment with the policy at a time of uncertainty over how the incoming Honduran government would handle relations with Beijing.
In a speech in Washington, Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei also appeared to take a jab at criticisms of his government around corruption and transparency.
“We consider ourselves an ally and friend [of the US], although some officials in this government don’t understand this in its true dimension,” Giammattei said in comments at the Heritage Foundation, an association of think tanks.
“I’ll mention a couple of things that prove it: First, diplomatic relations with Taiwan, not China. We’re the last ones left in the region,” he said.
Many nations in Central America and the Caribbean have ditched Taiwan for China in recent years, including El Salvador, Panama and the Dominican Republic, going against the policy of backing Taiwan.
Aides for Honduran president-elect Xiomara Castro have said that she would not establish diplomatic ties with China, backtracking from Castro’s earlier comments that she was open to starting formal relations with Beijing.
Giammattei also said that Guatemala is a “stable democracy” that guarantees human rights.
US Department of State official Uzra Zeya last week expressed concern over journalists, corruption fighters and rights advocates in Guatemala who have come under fire from the government.
Guatemala’s attorney general in July removed graft prosecutor Juan Francisco Sandoval from his post as head of an anti-corruption unit.
Officials subsequently sought to charge Sandoval with fraud, conspiracy and abuse of authority.
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