Remarks by Chargé d’Affaires Patrick Dunn at 241st Independence Day Celebration

Remarks by Mr. Patrick Dunn
U.S. Embassy Santo Domingo Chargé d’Affaires, a.i.
During 241st Independence Day Celebration
July 6th, 2017


Ladies and Gentlemen,

On behalf of the U.S. Embassy in Santo Domingo, welcome to our 241st Independence Day celebration.  We’re delighted you could join us this evening.

Images of Independence Day on the fourth of July in the United States usually show families and friends gathered in parks and town centers watching parades, enjoying fireworks, and sharing food.  America is known as a melting pot of cultures.  Tonight, we share with you, our friends here in the Dominican Republic, one of our time honored  traditions, that of barbeque and family-style picnic.

Tonight, we have the pleasure of savoring barbeque prepared by five members of the North Carolina Barbeque Association who are here with us.  We hope you will enjoy yourselves to the fullest.

While we enjoy fellowship with one another and the spectacle of bright fireworks, we must recall that Independence Day in the United States has not always been about apple-pie and ice cream.  There is a long history of people, from the birth of our nation with the Declaration of Independence, to the present, using this day and its symbolism to advocate for better social, political, and economic conditions in the United States.

It is in this practice that democracy is sustained and progress is achieved.  We enjoy the freedom and liberty to spend time in the safety of our public spaces with those we cherish.  We also enjoy the freedom to denounce unjust conditions and call for better accountability from our own government.  While the two sets of actions may seem at odds, they are in perfect harmony.  Celebrating the foundations of our nation’s birth alongside our friends and family is a good time to reflect on our continuous pursuit of life, liberty, and happiness.

Today also marks Meltem’s and my last Independence Day celebration here in the Dominican Republic.  It’s hard to believe that after three wonderful years here, we are already preparing to return to Washington.  But what an amazing three years it has been!  In that time our Embassy team provided $20 million in support for citizen safety and establishing the DR’s 911 system; hundreds of millions of dollars in development assistance to youth programs, education, and the environment; and we treated tens of thousands of low-income patients during our many military medical missions to the DR.  The U.S. has been proud to support the Dominican Republic as it seized tens of thousands of kilos of narcotics; and we continue to support ongoing Dominican and U.S. efforts to investigate and prosecute corruption and money laundering.  We welcomed the first new extradition treaty in over 100 years to jointly combat transnational organized crime.  Trade is up, Dominican agricultural exports to the US are way up, and tourism sets new records every year.   Finally, on a personal note, my wife and I have seen much of your beautiful country, and met so many of its warm and generous people.  Though we are departing the Dominican Republic, we take a small part of it with us in our hearts.

On behalf of the U.S. Embassy in Santo Domingo, thank you again for joining us this evening in our home away from home.

It is now my pleasure to invite the Honorable Minister of Foreign Affairs Miguel Vargas Maldonado on stage to give his remarks.