• 27 November 2013


    Category : Interview


    Interview with Manuel Lejarreta, Ambassador of Spain in Guatemala

    In the framework of the workshop for the high-level economic and social councils of Europe and Latin America organised by the FIIAPP in Antigua, Guatemala, Manuel Lejarreta, the Ambassador of Spain in Guatemala, talked to us for a few minutes about cooperation, development and the future.

    How does Spanish cooperation work through its various institutions in Guatemala?

    We’ve basically worked in three sectors in Guatemala. The first is governance, security and justice, providing support to the Public Prosecutor, the District Attorney, and the judicial system to reinforce this system, specifically focusing on gender issues such as gender-based violence and women’s empowerment. The second sector we’ve worked in is social development in Guatemala, including rural development and everything related to basic health and education services, focusing, for example, on training small farmers in small towns to strengthen their tourist attraction, thereby maximising that potential source of income. The third sector is the cultural heritage programme and school workshops. We have accomplished very important work rehabilitating historic sites, such as the Training Centre of Antigua, and urban design, such as the redesign of Sixth Avenue in Guatemala’s capital, which has been transformed from a marginal neighbourhood to an area that is conducive to coexistence.

    But in recent years, Spanish cooperation has faced a new challenge, with an even greater impact on the country.

    In addition to the aforementioned, there is a fourth area, which is newer – the Spanish Cooperation Water and Sanitation Fund, which dedicates no less than 100 million dollars to Guatemala through two different channels: directly through the communities of municipalities and through the IADB (Inter-American Development Bank). Spain provides funds to the IADB, which is executed through the Institute of Municipal Development (INFOM). However, this cooperation arrangement is not new, as we’ve already worked a lot in the area of rural development, specifically in issues of water and sanitation, but now these efforts will be reinforced with the inflow of the additional 100 million dollars.

    And now?

    The Country’s Association Framework, or MAP (“Marco Asociación País”) was signed this June; it is an official document for regulating cooperation over the next four years, specifically focusing on two sectors. The first is to combat chronic malnutrition in the country, in line with government policies. The second is the issue of security and justice, with a very radical focus on trying to reduce the rate of violence against women, in particular the femicide rate. These are the two main areas where Spanish cooperation will be dedicating its efforts over the next few years, in addition to the Water and Sanitation Fund, which is still currently active.

    Spain and the European Union are also present in Guatemala through the EUROsociAL Programme, led by the FIIAPP, in various key sectors of social cohesion, including social dialogue, social protection, justice, public finances, and regional development.

    The FIIAPP is a very prestigious, well-known institution. And I think the fact that the FIIAPP is one of EUROsociAL’s main actors in this area guarantees success. And the European Union’s cooperation here, which is also Spanish cooperation because we are all the EU, is very compatible with what we do. They are dealing with more or less the same issues and coordination is good. In the near future, the European Union, which has a great deal of funds at its disposal, may maximise our expertise through delegated cooperation. This way, we can contribute our people and technical knowledge and experience in the country to the EU’s resources, which will be quite abundant over the next six years.

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