“Being in India has enhanced my world experience”
H.E. Mr Georges de La Roche, the outgoing Ambassador of Guatemala to India, spoke to Editor Sayantan Chakravarty about being his tenure as the country’s first Head of Mission to India. He had earlier served as his country’s Ambassador to Canada, and as Deputy Ambassador to the USA. The interview was carried out a week before he completed his posting
Diplomatic relations between India and Guatemala are relatively new with Guatemala opening its Embassy in New Delhi in April 2013. How have you been able to take things forward in this new relationship?
I’ve had a very enjoyable two-year time in India, and would have happily extended my tenure. But I return to my country as Director General of Global Bilateral Relations in the Foreign Ministry, an offer I could not refuse. We have been taking forward our relationship with enthusiasm. Ours is the newest embassy among all countries in India, yours is similarly the newest in our country. We came here in 2013, while the Indian Embassy in Guatemala was set up in 2012. As my country’s first ambassador to this country, there were different challenges which I felt very honoured and privileged to handle. During the course of my tenure, I travelled around quite a bit, from Leh and Gulmarg in the Himalayas to Chennai and Kochi in the south. I travelled to Bhubaneswar twice, to Pune, Indore, Agra, Jaipur, Udaipur, Gandhinagar, Diu and Gir. India presents opportunities. We share your values of a democratic system. We were part of the Non-Aligned Movement. There are many synergies between your country and mine. Culturally, we lay a lot of emphasis on the family structure.
The third India-SICA Foreign Ministers meeting was held in Guatemala in May 2015. Kindly let us know the outcome of that meeting?
You could look at the 8-nation SICA—Central American Integration System—as something like the SAARC that you have here. Minister of State for Foreign Affairs General V K Singh was there in May 2015. There was an increase in the extent of financial cooperation with India, with India approving loans of USD 240 million to Guatemala. There has been a doubling of scholarships from India, from 100–200. We invited India to be an observer of the Central American Integration Pact, and we expect positive traction out of it. India also manifested its interest and goodwill to continue promoting and cooperating five priority pillars that make up SICA, which is an important step forward. India’s Ministry of External Affairs chose Guatemala as the site for a barefoot college where they train indigenous women to operate solar panels so that they can have electrification for villages. We also were able to share with India what we were doing in the northern triangle—comprising Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras—to combat trafficking of illegal narcotics that emanate from countries to our south, and move to countries on our north.