Op-Ed “Human Rights are for Everyone”

James W. Brewster, U.S. Ambassador to the Dominican Republic.

In light of recent events I feel it is important to share with you some information about the U.S. Embassy.  As Ambassador, my job is to build on our strong bilateral relationship and support President Obama’s foreign policy goals across the full spectrum of issues, including strengthening citizen security, creating economic opportunity, and promoting social inclusion and human rights for all.

I am proud of our participation in the financial support and development of the first ever 911 Emergency Call Center in the Dominican Republic.  My team worked very closely with the Dominican Government to ensure it’s success and we continue to work to provide this same opportunity to the citizens of Santiago.

We recently supported the renovation of the Dominican National Police Training Center, and signed agreements to train 600 DNP officers for the third straight year.  To help curb the flow of drugs, we built and supplied a new national canine training facility for the DNCD and we donated drug-sniffing dogs, as a result more than 7,000 kilos of cocaine have been interdicted on their way through the Dominican Republic.  All of this results in a safer place for your families to live and work.

Many think our military partnership is solely training and drug interdiction, but we collaborate on humanitarian work as well, 35,000 Dominican patients were treated by American military doctors this year, most during the visit of the U.S.S. Comfort, the largest floating hospital in the world.  We support another contingency of military doctors that come to the DR to care for thousands of Dominicans who need but cannot afford specialized treatment.

Governments that neglect or oppress sections of the population fail to use the full potential of all their citizens and hamper their own prosperity.  By increasing the participation of women in our economies, we are investing in our shared future and laying a foundation for inclusive, safer, and more prosperous societies.  A recent study by McKinsey Global Institute found that advancing women’s equality could add up to $12 trillion dollars to global GDP by 2025.  Our support for the LGBT Business Chamber here in the DR is not only about doing the right thing to promote equality, but also about advancing strong economies.

There are those that would have you believe we are only interested in one cause or one issue.  This is simply not true.  I will not deny that human rights are an important aspect of our two countries relationship. Experience shows that when historically marginalized groups, including women and girls, LGBTI persons, racial and ethnic minorities, and persons with disabilities, participate more fully in society countries are safer and more prosperous for all citizens. We believe everyone has the right to live an honest and transparent life, without persecution or discrimination.  All people deserve to be treated with dignity.

Human rights and equality is an element of the foreign policy of the United States and unfortunately at times that is met with hostility and aggression.  I only address this issue for this purpose, never will the accusations or vulgarity of a few misinformed people with a personal agenda discourage me from remaining focused on serving our relationship with the Dominican Republic with grace.  The United States of America stands with you and supports your participation in a just and equal society.  There will always be noise in the world, remain hopeful and God Bless every one of you.