Ambassador’s Remarks at U.S. Independence Day Celebration 2014

His Excellency, Lamure Latour representing the President of the Republic of Suriname

Your Excellencies, Distinguished Ministers and Permanent Secretaries of the Republic of Suriname;

District Commissioners and Members of the National Assembly;

Fellow Ambassadors and Members of the Diplomatic and Honorary

Consular Corps;

Colleagues from the community of Inter-Governmental and Non-Governmental Organizations in Suriname;

Members of the Armed Forces and Law Enforcement community of Suriname;

Members of the Suriname-America Alumni Association;

Distinguished guests from the Musical and Arts community;

Distinguished guests from the Business community;

Members of the media, friends, and colleagues

Happy 4th of July !

Lourdes and I are pleased to welcome you to our home to celebrate the 238th Anniversary of American Independence.

We are honored to have Minister Latour with us this evening together with so many distinguished Surinamese from all sectors of society.  America greatly values diversity within our society, and that is something we very much share with Suriname.  The mosaic of groups within our respective countries makes us richer and stronger.  I’m pleased to see that Suriname’s mosaic is well-represented here tonight.

As the holy month of Ramadan continues, I would like to wish our Muslim guests Ramadan Kareem.

I would like to recognize all of our sponsors who helped make tonight’s celebration possible.  We are encouraged to see both continuing and growing links between American companies and Suriname, as well as Surinamese companies representing American brands.  We appreciate your generosity.

The American West is often seen as a symbol of U.S. national identity.  Although the American West was explored long ago, we still take pride in our frontier spirit that gave early pioneers the courage and fortitude to settle, and the creative spirit that gave rise to “country and western” music and other traditions.

The West is characterized by ideals of individualism, democracy, and opportunity.

People came from all corners of the world to the American West resulting in a mix of cultures and interpersonal relations frequently characterized by tolerant attitudes.

We see similarities between, Suriname and the American West. You have vast natural resources, sparsely populated areas, and a mix of cultures and people.

These are not the only traits we share in common with Suriname.  We also share common democratic values and other areas of mutual interest, such as developing our youth, improving the health of our citizens by preventing disease and promoting healthy lifestyles, and cooperating to keep people safe and secure from crime.

We are pleased to cooperate with Suriname in all of these areas and many more.

This year, we saw a flurry of activity by our two U.S. Agency for International Development- funded youth development programs:  A Ganar and Kari Yu.  The Pan American Development Foundation manages the Kari Yu program and Partners of the Americas administers A Ganar.  Each program demonstrates the best of Suriname – capacity building, coordination, and commitment.  Together we are building a sustainable foundation for youth development by training stakeholders in program management, monitoring and evaluation, and strategic planning.  These programs take an inclusive approach for their young participants.  This includes mentorship, internship opportunities, and reintegration and rehabilitation of juvenile offenders.  One critical element to our success is that Surinamese organizations implement both programs and work directly with youth.  Not only do young Surinamers benefit, but we are also building the capacity of several organizations to manage these programs.  We hope these programs lead to further successes for our many Surinamese partners.  Investing in Suriname’s youth will pay dividends well into the future and we are proud to support these efforts.

We continue to work together with Suriname to combat HIV/AIDS stigma and reduce the spread of the disease through the President’s Emergency Program for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) Small Grants Program.  This year, we will again award grants to several organizations to implement programs to support most-at-risk-populations (MARPS) and persons engaging in high risk behavior.  The projects will help raise awareness, promote discussion, and spur action in Suriname to fight the epidemic.

The United States and Suriname also took important steps this past year to combat transnational crime and build law enforcement capacity with the implementation of the automated fingerprint identification system (AFIS) and police training programs.  AFIS tightens border security against known criminals and terrorists by providing law enforcement with the capacity to collect and share digital fingerprint data.  The system is part of a joint regional program between CARICOM nations and the United States of America.  Suriname already solved dozens of criminal cases with the help of the AFIS system.  We are proud to partner with Suriname in our regional effort to enhance citizen security.

Our Military Liaison Office also provided Professional Military Education to 11 Surinamese soldiers over the past year through our International Military Training and Education (IMET) programs.  Those courses emphasize our shared values including civilian control of the military.

Another facet of our relationship with Suriname is trade and business.   We believe U.S. companies offer a “best value” proposition by bringing strong, long-term partnerships, technology transfer and training, transparent business practices, and quality.

These programs are only some of the ways our nations cooperate. The Embassy also regularly sponsors cultural, educational, and professional exchanges to promote mutual understanding between the peoples of the United States and Suriname.

Along with many of you, we look forward to Suriname’s elections next year and to following the dynamic democratic process.  Elections depend on a robust free press, freedom of expression, and most importantly citizen participation.  We expect that Suriname will continue its tradition of free and fair elections.

Last, I want to recognize the small, but growing American citizen population living and working in Suriname.  They contribute to Suriname’s economic development, and strengthen the relationship between the citizens of our two countries.  A small subset of this community of American citizens is working alongside local laborers and is supported by local businesses to construct a new embassy for us in Paramaribo North.  We are very proud of the many eco-friendly innovations our new complex will showcase.  This is but one of many ways we as the U.S. diplomatic mission aim to be good neighbors.  In this case, we work hard to be environmentally and socially responsible members of this wonderfully diverse community.

It is an honor to celebrate our nation’s independence with you.  I hope you will stay to watch our fireworks display.  I would now like to raise a glass and toast the United States and Suriname.  May they each continue to reflect the best traits of the American West:



and tremendous opportunity.