Key topics were climate change and healthcare
The President of the Republic of Honduras, Juan Orlando Hernández, received Fra’ Matthew Festing in the Presidential Palace in Tegucigalpa on 18 February last.
In a working meeting with the respective delegations there was mutual agreement on the need to further strengthen bilateral cooperation, in particular with regards to healthcare and controlling natural disasters and climate change effects. Honduras has one of the world’s highest climate change vulnerability indexes. The spreading of the Zika, Chikungunya and Dengue viruses and their effects were also discussed during the talks.
In a joint press conference at the end of the meeting, President Hernández stressed that “it is important for Honduras and Central America that the rest of the world knows that we are in one of the areas most affected by climate change and realizes the efforts we are making to tackle these challenges”. The President continued by saying that “the visit of His Highness Fra’ Matthew Festing and his delegation is a privilege for Honduras, reinforcing our over 50 years of diplomatic relations”.
The Grand Master referred to the cooperation agreement signed with Honduras last year and confirmed the Order of Malta’s support through its Honduran Association and Malteser International to improve the health conditions of the Honduran population. He then mentioned the vast donation programme for state hospitals, clinics, schools and kindergartens. All carefully selected to guarantee that the food and medicines reach the final beneficiaries”.
During an official luncheon offered in his honour in the Presidential Palace, the Grand Master conferred the Grand Cross al Merito Melitense on President Juan Orlando Hernández.
The Grand Master was accompanied in his State Visit to Honduras by an official delegation consisting of the Grand Chancellor Albrecht Boeselager and the Grand Hospitaller Dominique de La Rochefoucauld-Montbel.
In a ceremony held in the National Congress, the Vice President Gladys Aurora Lopez, on behalf of the 128 deputies of the Honduran unicameral body, legislative branch of the government, stated that “this gesture represents an act of gratitude towards the Sovereign Order of Malta for its support and the work it has done to strengthen voluntary service and solidarity in the education system and in reducing climate change effects and emergencies in the health sector”.
Meeting with Cardinal Maradiaga
On Sunday 21 February, Fra’ Mattew Festing attended Holy mass celebrated in the Tegucigalpa cathedral by Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga. Afterwards the Grand Master and his delegation were received by the Cardinal in his residence.
After El Salvador, Honduras is the second stage of the Grand Master’s tour of visits to Central America. The next and last stage is Panama.