Remarks by Ambassador William W. Popp
Ribbon Cutting Ceremony for the New U.S. Embassy Campus
Guatemala City, March 16 2023
Minister of Foreign Relations Mario Búcaro and other ministers and representatives of the Government of Guatemala;
Mayor of Guatemala City Ricardo Quiñónez;
Honorable Ambassador William Moser, Director of the Department of State’s Office of Overseas Building Operations;
Community, municipal and department officials and representatives;
Members of the diplomatic corps, representatives of civil society;
Archeologists, artists, architects, and engineers;
Embassy and U.S. Government officer colleagues;
Ladies and gentlemen:
It is my honor and great pleasure to welcome you to our New Embassy Campus and celebrate the fantastic building behind me and all that it symbolizes for our two countries.
It is the work of the hands of 2,600 Guatemalans together with American colleagues. Some of them are among us today. Thank you very much!
Today is a historic day for our Mission. It is nearly a decade in the making. We broke ground on this site on April 4, 2018. But the process of selecting this location, doing the necessary environmental and archaeological studies, and securing the land goes back many more years than that.
So today we celebrate the completion of a long journey and the tireless work of many colleagues and partners.
I would like to recognize the support from the Government of Guatemala and the Municipality of Guatemala City. We are grateful for the shared achievement of this state-of-the-art facility and what it represents for promoting U.S.-Guatemalan relations in the 21st century.
That we are opening this campus now, overcoming the challenges of a global pandemic, is its own victory.
One of my favorite memories was visiting this site, shortly after arriving as Ambassador, to observe a builder’s rite known as the “top out” – the middle of the construction process where you complete the highest point.
As I observed the Guatemalan and American crews pouring the concrete and bending the steel bars, it seemed to me that it was a sign of hope.
In the depths of COVID, this Embassy put thousands of Guatemalans and Americans back to work and showed that we could forge onward and get results even despite the uncertainty of a pandemic.
The fact that we were able to maintain progress, sustain supply chains, and keep our construction teams employed and healthy, is a tribute to the effort of the Department of State’s Bureau of Overseas Building Operations, construction firm Harbert International, and the more than 2,600 Guatemalan workers and 450 companies that worked here.
I want to especially recognize the leadership of Director Moser, construction site director John Kent, and the entire OBO team. Their steadfast and conscientious commitment drove this project to completion.
This new campus brings us together like never before. USAID, Centers for Disease Control, International Narcotics and Law Enforcement, the Departments of Defense, Commerce, Agriculture, and Homeland Security – all of us brought together under one roof for a single Mission, working with Guatemalans for a better future.
Our new diplomatic home is what a modern Embassy should be: technologically advanced, architecturally impressive, culturally inspired and environmentally aware.
In a few moments, you will see for yourselves its towering spaces, dynamic form, and breathtaking views of Guatemala.
It is custom built to house contemporary and heritage artwork in an exposition that tells the story of two nations through tapestries, paintings, and sculptures.
These works honor the culture, traditions, and landscapes of the United States and Guatemala and celebrate the creative energy of our
peoples. Many of the artists have traveled near and far to be with us today. Thank you for your spectacular contributions to our Embassy!
This Embassy is also one of the most technologically advanced diplomatic structures on earth. It is seismically secure, has integrated solar panels, smart lighting systems, and grey water management to boost efficiency and reduce waste.
In keeping with the Biden administration’s commitment to mitigating climate change, it complies with the highest international standards for environmental impact – the LEED certification.
But, perhaps most importantly for our most frequent visitors – our clients for consular services – It is big! We can now provide a more comfortable and efficient process for visa and passport applicants, ensuring the many thousands of US and Guatemalan citizens who depend on us to travel, study, or do business enjoy the best experience we can provide.
In short, this is a building we can be proud of and, as you can see in the video, it is a building we built together.
Today we cut the ribbon and officially open the doors to a facility that will serve many generations and build a better bridge between us.