Ambassador Robin Bernstein’s Remarks at presentation of the Order of Merit of Duarte, Sánchez and Mella

Muchas gracias. Señor Presidente, Señora Vicepresidente, Canciller, miembros del cuerpo diplomático, señoras y señores.  No puedo decir lo honrada que me siento de estar hoy aquí y recibir esta condecoración. Significa mucho para mí.

I will never forget what an honor it was to learn that President Trump was nominating me to be the Ambassador of the United States to the Dominican Republic.  As a Floridian and neighbor to the Dominican Republic, an assignment here was a dream come true.  I already knew a great deal about your beautiful country, and our special relationship, which is fueled by strong family and cultural connections.  

And as a Jewish American, the opportunity to serve here was especially meaningful to me, in a country that opened its arms to Jewish people seeking refuge from the atrocities in Europe during World War II.

From the moment I began my confirmation process and finally stepped off the plane here, I promised to create a stronger bilateral relationship between our two great nations.  From safety and security, investment and trade, disaster preparedness and education – I have worked tirelessly to keep my word.  Although the coronavirus has brought us new obstacles and challenges, we have continued to strengthen our relationship and grown even closer as nations.  

I believe we are at the apex of our relationship with the Dominican Republic, in so many areas: our political relationship, military and law enforcement cooperation, trade and investment flows, sports and cultural linkages, to name a few.  The United States continues to help the Dominican Republic in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, illustrated by the foreign assistance made possible by the American people’s generosity and the U.S. Government’s action.  

We have stood together, both in the United Nations and elsewhere, in dealing with the enduring challenges of our time: the threat posed by Iran, the authoritarian regime in Venezuela, and so many other foreign policy challenges where we have counted on our alliance with the Dominican Republic to make meaningful progress.

It is very satisfying to reflect back upon what we have accomplished together.  We have worked to combat issues such as zika, gender-based violence, trafficking in persons, narcotrafficking, the 2019 tourism crisis, and human rights violations.  I hope you will remember me as an advocate for women, children and the most vulnerable members of society through our initiatives such as Vitamin Angels, the Academy of Women Entrepreneurs and our SAFE program for student athletes. 

But while I won’t be here to work with you and your government on these issues, I want you to know that I have full confidence in the team I am leaving behind.  

As you know, changes in administration are a natural and normal part of democratic governance, and I take great pride in the principles of rule of law and institutional resilience – hallmarks of our democracy.

I know there is so much potential to work together in the future on the priorities your administration has articulated, from stronger relations with the U.S., reforms to advance democracy, transparency, combat corruption, to civilian security, safeguarding your strategic assets and increasing volumes of U.S. investment.  Our strength and partnership is unwavering even in periods of great challenge and change.  A democratic, safe and prosperous Dominican Republic is in both our interests.

With the deepest gratitude, I accept this high honor, this award—the Order of Duarte—not only for me, but on behalf of my team at Embassy Santo Domingo, the Department of State and the Trump Administration.  It is a symbol of friendship and respect that exists between our two countries and it will always be in an honored place in our home.

Su nación me ha recibido con los brazos abiertos.  República Dominicana, siempre estarás en mi corazón. Somos más fuertes juntos.  Como siempre y para siempre – Estamos Unidos.

Muchas Gracias Señor Presidente.