Honduras ambassador hopes President Tsai will visit Mayan ruins

Taipei-Honduras Ambassador to Taiwan Rafael Fernando Sierra Quesada said his country would welcome another visit by President Tsai Ing-wen (???) and would arrange a special tour of the Mayan ruins of Copan for her.

Speaking to the local media last Thursday, Sierra said President Tsai was among the first world leaders to congratulate Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez on his re-election, which symbolized strong bilateral ties amid Beijing's efforts to lure Taiwan's Central American allies.

Tsai's congratulatory message was expressed via a video conference call on Dec. 27, when she sent blessings on behalf of the government and people of Taiwan to President Hernandez, who on Dec. 17 was declared the winner of the November elections in Honduras amid opposition claims of fraud.

Earlier in 2016, one of Taiwan longstanding allies, Panama, switched recognition from Taipei to Beijing, triggering speculations of a domino effect in Latin America and the Caribbean, the region where 11 of Taiwan's remaining 20 diplomatic allies are located.

Tsai last visited the region in January 2016, touring Honduras, Nicaragua, Guatemala and El Salvador.

Asked to comment on Taiwan media speculations that Tsai was likely to visit Central America again early this year to cement ties, Sierra said he was not aware of any such arrangement but his country would love to welcome her again.

If Tsai does visit Honduras again, Sierra said, he will arrange for her to tour Copan, one of the most spectacular sites of the ancient Maya civilization.

Sierra said he hopes President Tsai will plant a tree at the ruins, as Japanese Princess Sayako did in 2003.

On the issue of enhancing bilateral ties, the ambassador said Taiwan and Honduras should work together for the benefit of both peoples to create a win-win situation.

Since he took up the post of ambassador in 2015, Sierra said, he has been pushing for closer bilateral trade and as a result, Honduran exports to Taiwan have tripled in the past two and a half years, from US$44 million to US$102 million.

"We don't want money from Taiwan, but rather something that both countries can benefit from," he said.

For instance, if Taiwan helps to improve agricultural-related technology in Honduras, those products could be sold in Taiwan at a better price, he said.

With such an approach, Taiwan will benefit because it will have food imports at a better price, while Honduras will profit from Taiwan's training of its farmers to improve production, Sierra said.

Under that cooperation model, Sierra said, the first batch of Honduran sweet melons will arrive in Taiwan later this month, after the Taiwan government approves the importation.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel