Mayor Elorza to sign sister city agreement with Guatemala City at summit

WPRI/Dan McGowan

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – In his first year in office, Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza traveled to Guatemala. Now officials in the Central American country are returning the favor.

At a summit in Providence next week, Elorza and Guatemala City Mayor Álvaro Arzú are scheduled to sign a sister city agreement designed to encourage the “cross promotion of both cities in tourism, exports, ports and airports,” according to Emily Crowell, a spokesperson for the mayor.

Known as the PVD+GTM Summit, the event will be held Oct. 12 through Oct. 14. While the signing ceremony will take place in City Hall, the rest of the summit will feature lectures at Brown University and the Rhode Island School of Design as well as a cooking event at the Hotel Providence.

“With the United States already being Guatemala’s largest trading partner and the country having the biggest economy in Central America, this summit will allow us to forge a relationship with a promising partner,” Elorza, a Democrat, said in a statement. “In a world that is more interconnected than ever, we must seek to establish links that could lead to economic opportunity for a stronger, more vibrant Providence.”

The event is largely being funded through private donations, but the city did spend $5,000 on an event planner and $1,000 for marketing and outreach coordinator, according to Victor Morente, a spokesperson for the city.

“It is an enormous pleasure, in addition to a privilege, to send the citizens of Providence warm greetings from the city of Guatemala,” Arzú said in a statement. “In the coming days and in honor of the PVD+GTM Summit, I will have the opportunity to visit the city, meet with Mayor Elorza and share the excitement of the activities that, jointly, we have prepared to celebrate the sistership of our cities.”

Elorza, whose parents were born in Guatemala, came under fire last year when he and two staffers traveled to Guatemala for “an economic development trip” to meet with the country’s minister of foreign affairs.

Elorza also met with then-President Otto Perez Molina, who was arrested on corruption charges just weeks later. Perez Molina ultimately resigned.

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Dan McGowan ( ) covers politics, education and the city of Providence for Follow him on Facebook and Twitter: @danmcgowan