Remarks by Ambassador Robin Bernstein at her Welcome Reception

Good evening.

Gracias, gracias, muchas gracias a todos por acompañarnos esta noche. Es un verdadero placer darles la bienvenida a nuestro hogar.

I want to start by thanking President Trump and the American people for the opportunity to be here with you this evening. It is a great honor to serve as the chief representative of our nation here in the beautiful Dominican Republic. I especially want to thank President Medina and his administration for welcoming me here and everyone who helped make this night possible. I also want to thank my family for all of their support and especially my husband Richard and our daughter JuJu for being here tonight. Family is important to me and along with my faith serves as the bedrock of everything I do and stand for. I believe those are two characteristics that I share with the Dominican people and how they can guide us in our decision making.

I believe education, citizen security, commerce, and disaster preparedness should be at the top of our priority list for collaboration.

The Dominican Republic and the United States are neighbors, with just forty miles between the Dominican Republic and U.S. territory. It was always inevitable that our two countries would share connections. Over the centuries these connections have grown as millions of Dominicans have visited my country and millions of Americans have visited the Dominican Republic. Work, marriage, family, tourism and our shared love of the great sport of Baseball have woven close ties between our two countries and our two peoples.

We have a unique shared history and relationship that has a lot more to do with our people and their connections than our governments. We are entwined…The truth is, estamos unidos

We must work together to fully enhance the opportunities that abound here in this beautiful Caribbean island nation. Commerce creates wealth, offers jobs, and improves the lives of people here and in the United States. It offers opportunities for education, and the chance to build even further on the close ties that we already enjoy.
Speaking of commerce, I’m proud to announce that we will host a large trade delegation of between 40 and 50 companies, ports, and trade representatives from Florida this November. You may not realize it, but as a proud Floridian let me remind you that the state of Florida is the Dominican Republic’s number 1 export market.

Already there are over 100 agreements between Dominican and U.S. universities, almost 3 million U.S. tourists visit this country right now, our Consular section processed over 200,000 visas to the U.S. last year, and U.S. investors invested 2.1 billion dollars in this economy in 2017. These numbers are all impressive and by working together they all can continue to grow.

These ties mean that we must also work together to confront the shared challenges of transnational crime, natural disasters and disaster preparedness, and health and humanitarian assistance. We must work together to confront these challenges that cross borders and can destroy lives. I will work to safeguard and protect the safety and health of our citizens in both countries.

On that note, I want to thank the Dominican navy for their assistance in the rescue of three American citizens stranded at sea off the coast of Punta Cana this week. To the Captain and crew of the “Capella”, the American people thank you.

I’m sure you’ve all seen the news of my recall to Washington last week so let me just touch on it briefly in this context. If you accept, as I do, that our countries are inexorably connected, and estamos unidos, then you know that our decisions affect one another.

My recall was a strong gesture on behalf of my government that underscores how seriously we take the happenings of this hemisphere. My conversations last week were focused on what the United States can do to support strong, independent, democratic institutions and economies in this region to promote transparency and the rule of law.

The reality is that our relationship with the region has matured. Our assistance has moved from the infrastructure projects of the 20th century to capacity building, citizen security, and economic growth.

We know the United States’ greatest strength is its people, and we believe the same of the Dominican Republic. As the great Ronald Reagan said, “We who live in free market societies believe that growth, prosperity and, ultimately, human fulfillment are created from the bottom up, not the government down. Only when the human spirit is allowed to invent and create, only when individuals are given a personal stake in deciding economic policies and benefiting from their success—only then can societies remain economically alive, dynamic, prosperous, progressive, and free.” Those are the values we have been investing in.

We absolutely respect your sovereign right to determine your relationships but we hope that those decisions are being made with a clear eye toward the future and recognizing how those decisions affect your partners, your people, and your sovereignty.

This is why I hope we will focus on our shared priorities and move forward toward a better future together. I am thrilled to be here and have the opportunity to work with all of you.

Me comprometo a hacer que la ya fuerte relación entre los Estados Unidos y la República Dominicana se haga aún más fuerte. Que Dios bendiga a los Estados Unidos de América y que Dios bendiga a la República Dominicana. Gracias.