His Excellency Prime Minister Ariel Henry,
distinguished ministers and members of the Cabinet,
my esteemed colleagues in the diplomatic corps,
representatives of international organizations,
esteemed representatives of civil society and private sectors,
It is a distinct pleasure to have you all here today at the historic Ambassador’s residence. I am U.S. Embassy Port-au-Prince’s new Chargé d’Affaires, Eric Stromayer. On behalf of the Embassy and the American people, I welcome you to this year’s July 4th reception as Haiti and the world emerge from COVID.
This is not my first visit to Haiti or this house. I first served my country in Haiti from 1990 to 1991. It was my first assignment as a Foreign Service Officer. Since then, I have served in numerous places around the world.
In all of them, I have remembered my time here.
Like today, the early nineties was a time of change and uncertainty in Haiti.
Despite the events of the time, and there were many, I still remember travelling across the country absorbing Haiti’s beauty and the warmth of its people, and the richness of your culture, music and cuisine. A unique culture and historic founding history that Haitians have every right to be proud of.
We need to find a way forward together with humility. We have not given up but continue to stay in Haiti as partners and friends of long standing, working together to make things better, to accompany Haiti as she finds her way forward.
The United States’ role here in Haiti is, and has been, multi-faceted. As a partner, the United States is working throughout Haiti through our Embassy, its programs and implementors. I am proud of the work we all do. Along with American and Haitian staff in the Embassy there are also many Americans here as private citizens, in numerous other organizations and NGOs, and as dual nationals. I want to thank all of them for the work they have done and are doing and wish them a happy July 4!
Indeed, the ties between or two nations are very deep and of long duration. We have worked together for many years through challenging times of transition as we do today.
Together, we know that with progress and truly broad participation, and eventual consensus on a way forward these moments of transition have the potential to bring hope, change and progress for the future.
Periods of transition are by no means a uniquely Haitian story. Our history in the United States is also marked by times of transition. These times are not always easy.
This year marks 246 years since the United States declared the end of British rule and launched itself as a bold, new experiment in government by the people. And still to this day, July 4th serves as an important reminder for every American of what that declaration states, “that all men are created equal [and] that they are endowed… with certain unalienable rights.”
The pursuit of establishing these United States of America was no easy task. In fact, the country that we see today was not that united in 1776; rather, it, too, was in a period of transition, that in some respects has continued ever since.
Our forefathers disagreed about how this country should be governed and in what direction their newly established country should go.
Indeed, this period was marked in some ways more by challenges rather than consensus.
Government, that as President Lincoln later put it during a bloody civil war “by, for and of the people,” was then, and remains, an uncertain process.
Whatever uncertainties and disagreements America’s forefathers had, in the end did not stand forever in the way of finding a path to realize the country’s future. Through healthy debate and deliberation, they created the constitution and structure that to this date have given us tools with which we as Americans, can continue the work in progress towards creating a more perfect Union.
Today, the United States of America continues to pursue this more perfect Union. I say that my country continues on this path because we know perfection is not a destination, but a direction; the work is never done.
We acknowledge the errors and imperfections in our history from slavery to so many others and lapses and failures to live up to our ideals. This gives us the basis to continue to try to build a more equitable, inclusive, just, diverse, and tolerant society for each one of our citizens. All these periods and seasons of instability, and surely more, have and will challenge and pull at the fibers of our democratic principles.
I am delighted by the opportunity to return to Haiti during yet another period of transition. I am proud of our continuing commitment to stand by the Haitian people as partners as they and their leaders find their way forward in the face of the many challenges they face today.
I call on all parties and civil society groups and all Haitians to continue working toward collaboration, consensus, and inclusivity at all levels. The United States and other international partners stand ready to support Haiti and its people as they find their way forward.
Friends, there is strength in consensus. Compromise is not weakness. There is strength in unity. We all work best when we work together.
In conclusion I want to thank all the members of the US Embassy and the residence staff who made today’s event possible. Mèsi anpil. Thank you all for our attendance.
I stand before you today proud and honored to celebrate the United States of America’s Independence Day. May we all continue working together to create a better Haiti for all her people. I conclude with a proverb that “the darkest night comes before the dawn…”