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IDB and Mundo Maya sign documents for grant to support sustainable growth program for Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Belize and Mexico

NEW ORLEANS -- Inter-American Development Bank President Enrique V. Iglesias, the director of the Guatemalan Tourism Institute, Juan Francisco Callejas and the president of the Mundo Maya Organization, Edgardo Suárez Mallagray, today signed documents for a $1.3 million IDB grant to support an initiative to preserve historical, environmental, and cultural heritage in Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Belize and the Mexican states of Campeche, Chiapas, Quintana Roo, Tabasco and Yucatán.

The signing ceremony was carried out in conjunction with an international seminar on New Trends in Heritage Preservation in Latin America and the Caribbean, organized as an activity of the Annual Meeting of the Bank’s Board of Governors in New Orleans.

Among the witnesses of honor at the signing were former Guatemalan president Vinicio Cerezo, El Salvador’s Technical Secretary of the Presidency Juan José Daboub, Mexico’s Finance Secretary José Angel Gurría; Mexico’s Tourism Secretary Oscar Espinosa; Honduran Finance Minister Gabriela Núñez de Reyes; Honduran Tourism Minister Ana Abarca and the permanent secretary of the Ministry of Tourism of Belize, Deon Pascasio.

"For us development is an integral concept," Iglesias said during the ceremony. "When we speak of preservation of cultural heritage we are not only considering aesthetic or ethical aspects, but we are also addressing culture as a source of economic activity."

One of the goals of the Mundo Maya project is to preserve and utilize the Mayan heritage in the south of Mexico and Central America, where there now live five million descendents of this ancient people. The region covers 500,000 square kilometers, where Mayan languages are still spoken and traditions in art and social organizations are preserved.

The Mundo project includes the design of an investment plan for cultural, ecological, and adventure tourism as well as environmental protection and guarantees of the participation of the Mayan community and other local communities in the process. The project will also serve as an alternative sources of income for inhabitants of the region.

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