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Ambassador Popp Concludes Two-Day Trip to Petén
October 22, 2021

Ambassador Popp Concludes Two-Day Trip to Petén to Review
Progress on U.S.-Supported Projects Promoting Prosperity, Good
Governance, and Pandemic Recovery while Celebrating Community
Forest Concessions

REF# 2021 – 29

Ambassador William W. Popp traveled to Petén on October 21-22 to review U.S. investments in economic growth, health, commerce, and education to support the people of Guatemala. While in Petén, Ambassador Popp participated in the renewal of three existing community forest concessions and creation of two new concessions. The United States, with ongoing support from USAID, is an active member and contributor to the international coalition working to support sustainable forest management in Petén. This support from the United States Government to the concessions has reduced Guatemala’s greenhouse gas emission, generated more than 23,000 permanent and seasonal jobs, and over $52 million in sales of products and services between 2013-2020.

The Ambassador commenced his visit with a Thursday night meeting with USAID partners and walking tour of Flores Island to view architectural highlights with alumni of the U.S. Embassy’s Access English Microscholarship program. On Friday morning, Ambassador Popp visited a public health vaccination center at the Panorama Neighborhood Health Center in San Benito, Petén to witness the deployment of U.S. government-donated Moderna COVID-19 vaccines and to thank and recognize Petén’s front line medical workers who continue to risk their own health to help Guatemala recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and increase vaccination rates. Since July 8, the United States has donated 4.5 million doses of the Moderna vaccine, as well as 1.3 million syringes, cold storage chains, lab and testing equipment, and hospital tents, such as the mobile tent deployed at Panorama Neighborhood Health Center.

“I want to thank each and every one of you working here to safeguard the health of your fellow Guatemalan citizens. I’m proud that the United States is able to provide some of the vaccines that you are administering to save lives. The only way that Guatemala, the United States, and the world can move beyond this pandemic is through the commitment, hard work, and sacrifice of front-line medical workers like all of you,” said Ambassador Popp while talking with clinic staff.

Ambassador Popp attended a roundtable dialogue with legislators working to support youth issues and local civil society leaders to discuss the 5904 Law Project – “EcoJoven,” focused on expanding economic opportunities for youth. The roundtable was supported by USAID’s Electoral Governance and Reforms Project, which is implemented by the Consortium for Elections and Political Processes Strengthening (CEPPS) and the International Republican Institute (IRI). Also on Friday, Ambassador Popp participated in a ceremony hosted by President Alejandro Giammattei to celebrate the successful continuation of the Community Forest Concessions located in the Maya Biosphere Reserve. During the ceremony, the President announced the extension of three existing forest concession projects and heralded the launch of two new concessions. Starting with the first contract in 1994, the concessions have increased communities’ abilities to sustainably manage forest products and tourism services while maintaining a near-zero deforestation rate. From 2013 to 2020, the program, supported by USAID and implementing partner Rainforest Alliance, has provided over 23,000 jobs and generated $52 million in revenue.

“The United States is proud to join forces with the Government of Guatemala and an international alliance of nations and civil society organizations which, through their hard work, innovation, and commitment to conservation practices have made the community forest concessions program not only financially sustainable, but also ecologically successful … We are encouraged by the extension of existing concessions and today’s announcement creating new concessions,” said Ambassador Popp.