Speech by Ambassador Luis E. Arreaga – Town Hall Meeting, Xela

Quetzaltenango, November 18, 2017

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Good afternoon!  I am delighted to be with you today, and I thank you for joining us for this Town Hall event.  I think it is fitting that my first opportunity to speak with a group of private American citizens should take place in Quetzaltenango, which I know very well from my youth.

Besides the protection of American citizens, which is the Embassy’s top priority, our diplomatic efforts in Guatemala are focused in three areas:  the promotion of good governance, prosperity, and security.

I know I am probably preaching to the choir when I say that the United States has strong ties and a long history with Guatemala. A country has made great strides in the past few years toward greater democracy and better governance.

That’s the big picture of what your government is doing here in Guatemala. But I think we should talk about a subject that concerns all Americans in this room and in Guatemala. That is the services the Embassy provides to U.S. citizens.

Afterwards, I am happy to stay with you for a while to answer questions.

First let me start by thanking our wardens (some of whom may be here today).  Wardens provide a critical service to the American community.

Second, I wanted to mention that this was a year of transitions in our Embassy.  I arrived barely a month ago, the Deputy Chief of Mission arrived in July, and we also have a consular leadership team.  Our consulate is committed to providing fast and efficient service to renew passports, provide notarials, and register the births of your children.

We are also committed to identifying and making appropriate improvements in our procedures so that when you have to come and take care of business at the Embassy, you are in and out within an hour or so.

The consular team is also exploring ways to improve our messaging to the American community. This might include engagement with you all through social media and regular webchats.

Let me take this opportunity to introduce our new Consul General, Kent Brokenshire. Consul General Brokenshire and his team will remain behind after I leave to answer any specific questions you have concerning consular matters.

Again, I would like to thank each and every one of you for being here. I will be glad to answer general questions, and I wish you the best in your lives and work in Guatemala.