Remarks at the Ministerial on U.S.-Caribbean Resilience Partnership

John J. Sullivan
Deputy Secretary of State
Conference Center of the Americas, U.S. Southern Command
Miami, FL
April 12, 2019

DEPUTY SECRETARY SULLIVAN:  Thank you, Julie.  Good morning, Your Excellencies, leaders from the region, partners, friends, representatives of CDEMA, RSS officials, and of course my colleague across the U.S. Government who are here, in particular Admiral Faller, who is our host this morning, and his colleagues at SOUTHCOM.  In particular, I want to thank all of the officials from countries in the Caribbean who traveled here today to share your perspectives, experience, and knowledge, which is so important for us to share.

On behalf of President Trump and Secretary Pompeo, I want to underscore the United States’ commitment to enhancing our cooperation with the Western Hemisphere and the Caribbean, in particular.  My first year as deputy secretary of state – in 2017 – was one of the worst hurricane seasons on record.  Today, I am glad to join with my U.S. Government colleagues, delegations from 18 Caribbean nations, and critical disaster response organizations to build our resilience, and ultimately, save lives and livelihoods.

Our nations are bound by a shared history, common interests, and deep social ties.  As we look to strengthen those bonds, we continue our focus on promoting prosperity, security, health, education, and energy.  Through conversations I’ve had with many of you over the last two years, I’ve learned that we all agree on the need for sustained collaboration on disaster response and resilience.

The U.S.-Caribbean Resilience Partnership will require continued cooperation to move away from cycles of destruction, relief, and reconstruction.  Together we can prevent situations in which natural disasters are compounded by exploitation and opaque deal-making that can weaken institutions and undermine vulnerable economies.  We all come to the table today as neighbors and friends who understand that our successes and failures are intertwined.

Each year, our governments, businesses, and citizens prepare for the hurricane season.  The memory and destruction of recent seasons remains fresh, and we do not forget the devastating hurricanes in 2017 – Harvey, Irma, and Maria.  We all felt the destruction, the loss of property, and especially, the loss of life.  Hurricanes know no boundaries.  We must overcome our own, especially those that block our ability to respond and prepare effectively.

The broad range and depth of topics we will address during today’s discussions will build a strong foundation of partnership and collaboration around disaster risk reduction and response.  Our task today is to bolster our existing efforts and explore new avenues for cooperation.

The United States brings ten different U.S. Government organizations to the table today to deliver on our commitment to enhanced engagement.  The agencies represented here span the range of the entire foreign policy spectrum – from diplomacy to development to defense.

And I look forward to working with you today.  As neighbors and partners in this hemisphere, we will be more resilient.  Thank you very much.  (Applause.)