President Alejandro Giammattei Delivers Orders of Heritage and Quetzal and Receives Accreditation of Tak’alik Ab’aj as World Heritage

President Giammattei highlighted Guatemala's cultural richness.

by Victor Cojulún

Guatemala City, by Daniel Coromac -AGN- President Alejandro Giammattei visited the National Museum of Maya Art: Archaeology and Ethnology to present the Order of Heritage Miguel Orrego Corzo and the Order of the Quetzal with the Grand Collar. Additionally, UNESCO representatives presented the accreditation for the inscription of Tak’alik Ab’aj as a World Heritage Site.

President Alejandro Giammattei’s administration has strengthened actions to promote Guatemalan culture.

During the event, President Giammattei stated, “We come together to recognize and be recognized for the over 3,000 years of cultural richness that we, Guatemalans, possess.”

UNESCO accredited Guatemala’s Holy Week as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity and Tak’alik Ab’aj as a World Heritage Site. The efforts of President Giammattei’s administration made this unprecedented achievement possible.

These designations recognize Guatemala’s cultural contributions and promote tourism.

Order of Heritage

One of the recipients of the awards, Mario Roberto Maldonado, worked in the Ministry of Culture and Sports and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to achieve the recognition of both cultural heritages. Maldonado received Guatemala’s “Miguel Orrego Corzo” Order of Cultural Heritage. The award’s name pays homage to one of the country’s most important archaeologists.

Christian Weissenberg Osaye also received the Order of Heritage recognition for his work modernizing Munag, including applying technology, improving the visitor experience, and putting galleries on display. President Giammattei underscored his labor as a guardian and promoter of the legacy of one of Guatemala’s greatest glories of modern art and that Weissenberg’s efforts have strengthened the National Museum of Art of Guatemala, achieving international recognition as a world-class museum.

The ceremony also included a posthumous tribute to Dr. Guillermo Mata Amado. Dr. Mata’s family received the Order of Heritage for his archaeological contributions, such as the discovery and conservation of pieces now exhibited in the National Museum of Maya Art and the Popol Vuh Museum.

Order of the Quetzal

José Luis Ralda González received the Grand Collar of the Order of the Quetzal, the highest honor awarded by the Government of Guatemala, for providing the physical space for exploring Tak’alik Ab’aj. During the ceremony, one of the vice ministers of Foreign Affairs read the document that officialized the agreement.

President Giammattei underscored Mr Ralda’s contribution and stated, “You are an example of what Guatemalans can and should do for the country. Thanks to you, today we can boast of another cultural heritage. Your delivery to the Republic, of what now occupies ‘the first Maya city,’ there is no other way to thank you.”

In his speech, read by his daughter, Jose Luis Ralda stated, “I never thought my work could be recognized; I never did it with that intention. I always thought that Tak’alik Ab’aj should be admired by all, a jewel that was hidden on my property.”

President Alejandro Giammattei personally handed out the awards to the honored Guatemalans.

President Receives Accreditation

The UNESCO representative in Guatemala, Francisco Zambrano, presented the World Heritage accreditation for the inscription of Tak’alik Ab’aj, received by President Alejandro Giammattei and the Minister of Culture and Sports, Felipe Aguilar.

In his speech, the President indicated that Guatemala is looking for more of our cultural wealth to be recognized by UNESCO, such as the unique method of crafting giant kites used in Sumpango.

Regarding the 3,000 years of Guatemalan cultural richness, he stated, “The world has the right to know the wealth here. We have more than 2,000 sites that are there, underground. We are the source of an incredible history born in Tak’alik Ab’aj.”

In his intervention, President Giammattei recalled that in an international interview, he invited foreigners to visit Guatemala in 2024, especially Munag. He also highlighted the investments to recover spaces for art and culture, such as the National Museum of Maya Art, the Germán Alcántara National Conservatory, and the Fine Arts Theater.

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