Speech delivered by U.S. Ambassador Linda S. Taglialatela on June 30, 2017 at the Royal by Rex Resorts, St. Lucia
Good evening and a warm welcome to you all.
I am pleased to celebrate the 241st anniversary of the independence of the United States of America with our many St. Lucian friends and colleagues.
This year’s celebration honors the iconic United States highway, Route 66. Many of you may not know that Route 66, often called the Main Street of America, stretched more than twenty four hundred miles from Chicago to Los Angeles.
This two-lane road — one of the original U.S. highways — symbolized freedom, adventure and opportunity. Those concepts are as important to Americans today as when the road was first built in 1926. In fact, they go all the way back to the founding of our nation. But even as we look back tonight in celebration,we also look forward.
The relationship between the United States and St. Lucia is as strong as ever. Much like Route 66 unified the diverse cultures and geography of the United States, the alliances between our countries unify us. Those ties will continue to be vital as we work together to ensure our shared prosperity and security.
The U.S. Government recently released a new multi-year Caribbean engagement strategy that establishes a framework for enhancing the prosperity and security of the Caribbean and for bolstering U.S. relations with the governments and people of the Caribbean, the diaspora, civil society and the private sector.
As the “third border” of the United States, the Caribbean is vital to our efforts to advance democratic principles, enhance regional security cooperation, and increase trade and investment in the Western Hemisphere. The multi-year strategy supports U.S. efforts to advance Caribbean partnerships in six areas: prosperity, security, diplomacy, education, health and energy.
We are committed to supporting Prime Minister Chastanet’s efforts to strengthen the rule of law here in St. Lucia. Our commitment is demonstrated by the assistance our Rule of Law Advisor provides in updating outdated legislation.
These legislative changes will increase St. Lucia’s capacity to address modern day challenges such as cyber intrusion and transnational trafficking. We also donated office equipment to the Director of Public Prosecutions’ office to modernized systems and processes and we will make similar donations to the St. Lucia High Court and the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court. Tonight, the Boys Training Center Band will perform for you. Besides being a wonderful band who will entertain us, they are a symbol of our partnership with St. Lucia.
Under phase one of USAID’s Juvenile Justice Reform Program, we assisted in upgrading the programming, equipment and facilities at the Center.
Our support to St. Lucia’s efforts to reduce youth crime and violence continues with the start of USAID’s new Youth Empowerment Services (YES) Project. Under the Yes Project, we are working with the Government of St. Lucia to develop data-based policies and programs that reduce the risk factors driving youth crime, violence, and victimization.
We will promote a community-based approach, targeting the communities of Castries Central, Anse-La-Raye, Soufriere, Dennery, and Vieux Fort. We will also continue our efforts to promote juvenile justice reform, working to shift the focus of the juvenile justice system from punishment to rehabilitation.
Another important symbol of our friendship is the Peace Corps presence in St. Lucia for the last 55 years. The Peace Corps program in the Eastern Caribbean is our third-oldest in the world. Hundreds of Americans learned more about St. Lucia and the Eastern Caribbean by living and working with you here.
Thank you for making them welcome. Yesterday, I visited a new group of 38 Peace Corps volunteers at the Desruisseaux Community Center who are training to support literacy for students in grades one to three in primary schools across the island and in St. Vincent, Dominica and Grenada.
Starting in September, USAID will partner with the Ministry of Education to improve the literacy levels of youth within the entire St. Lucia primary school system. Finally, we recognize that disaster resilience and sustainable, cheaper energy are important issues to everyone on the island of St. Lucia. We are partnering here too.
USAID’s new Caribbean Clean Energy Program in the Eastern Caribbean is working in St. Lucia to help establish effective policy and regulatory environments, as well as incentives, for greater energy efficiency and low-emission growth in the energy sector. Security, prosperity, education and energy — these ties bind together our relationships in St. Lucia and the Eastern Caribbean much as Route 66 bound together the many U.S. states it passed through. We have traveled far together.
The road ahead of us is uncertain, but no matter what challenges arise, I look forward to taking them on with you. I would like to thank all the sponsors who donated so generously to enable us to host this Independence Day Celebration.
Thanks as well to all the Embassy staff working here tonight. And finally, thank you to all of our guests for coming out to share this wonderful occasion with us. I would like to ask you to please raise your glasses and join me in a toast:
To freedom, democracy and the enduring friendship between St. Lucia and the United States of America.
Please enjoy the party!