Ambassador Lynch delivers Farewell Remarks

Remarks as prepared
Ambassador Sarah-Ann Lynch
Farewell Reception  
Chief of Mission Residence
May 19, 2023

Thank you, Mariah and Dylan, for that heart-felt introduction and to my third child, Garrett, who I’m sure wishes he could be here rather than in a medical school exam at this moment, I agree that you two got the better deal.  But, it’s wonderful to have some family here tonight and besides my two children, I would like to welcome Mariah’s fiancé, Thomas (yes, fiancé – this just happened to so congratulations you two!).  And, my oldest brother, Bob, and his wife Dianne.  Bob has never met a microphone that he doesn’t like, but I’m not giving it to him tonight!  So, if you find him, please indulge him and chat with him for a while – about the arts (his field) or anything else – he always has an opinion.

Your Excellency, President Dr. Mohamed Irfaan Ali, President of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana,
Honorable Vice President Dr. Bharrat Jagdeo,
Honorable Speaker of the National Assembly, Manzoor Nadir,
Honorable Ministers and Members of Parliament,
Honorable Leader of the Opposition, Mr. Aubrey Norton,
Members of the Opposition,
Former President Donald Ramotar,
Former Prime Minister and Vice President Moses Nagamootoo
Members of the Diplomatic Corps,
Members of the Private Sector and Civil Society,
Members of the Media,
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen.

Good evening all!  And, welcome to America’s House in Guyana!

And, President Ali, I’m glad to see you and so many members of your team here tonight.  I was worried as I saw you at the airport last night and my son, Dylan, proceed to eat all of the food you put out for a team meeting and the diet cokes – well, let’s just say I hope you were okay with Sprite!

And, thank you all for coming to this event which marks the beginning of my departure from Georgetown and this position.  While I’ll still be here as U.S. Ambassador for several more weeks, I will begin to transition to my new position at SOUTHERN Command over the summer so I wanted to be sure to be able to say a proper goodbye to all my good colleagues and friends in Guyana.  So, thank you again for coming tonight.

Folks – it has been the greatest honor of my professional life to serve as the United States Ambassador to Guyana and the Secretary of State’s Representative to CARICOM during these past four plus years.  I have worked under two U.S. administrations, and with two Guyanese administrations.  In both of our countries, the continued furthering and development of democracy requires hard work, a thick skin, and waking up daily to further a positive vision for our shared neighborhood.  And, doing this work at such an historic time for Guyana has truly been my greatest pleasure.

Adventure, Friendship, Success.  These are not only names of charming Guyanese villages, but also words that paint a picture of my experience in this land where I have spent four plus years of my life.  It has been a joint ADVENTURE with so many of you – colleagues, partners, FRIENDS – to resolve an election, leverage Guyana’s newfound wealth to attract U.S. strategic investments and to advance shared security equities to improve regional security to put Guyana on the path to SUCCESS.  With my  Embassy teammates, we built our work around the guiding vision of furthering Governance, Prosperity, and Security.  And, over four years, we addressed some of the most consequential challenges and tremendous opportunities across all three priority areas.  Here are just a few of those accomplishments of which I am most proud:

On governance, over these past four years, the United States provided Guyana some of the critical tools and training necessary to carry out and later resolve a national election; we provided capacity-building advice and technical assistance to help Guyana build key institutions, including key democratic institutions, like GECOM; and, key financial institutions, like the GRA, in order to move ahead on modernizing and digitizing systems to improve transparency and reduce.  We promoted youth civic engagement and built youth capacity through leadership programs.  And, through our Public Affairs Section, we began an Academy of Women Entrepreneurs program that now engages female entrepreneurs in 3/10 regions of Guyana.  We provided experienced climate advisors that helped Guyana secure a historic sale of its forest carbon credits to a private company.  Of course, our efforts on governance would not have been impossible were it not for our partners and friends both in government, including President Ali, Vice President Jagdeo, Minister Todd and other ministers, as well as the leader of the opposition Aubrey Norton, and the vast range of cabinet members and opposition parliamentarians as well as members of Guyana’s civil society and private sector who were always willing to share their ideas and have frank discussions with a true friend on how we could work together to keep Guyana on the path to success.

Prosperity  –  well, I am so proud of my team’s work in this area.  The entire (small) economic team that we have was absolutely passionate about their work as they worked the phones, held webinars, attended trade shows and hosted trade missions – notably from Florida which resulted in millions of dollars worth of deals almost overnight and Louisiana (the largest trade mission ever to visit Guyana).  Four years ago, there were a handful of U.S. companies here; today, we are approaching 100.  They are large, small, and medium-sized companies and family owned companies investing in Guyana for the very first time.   And, because of these investments, today, thousands of Guyanese have new jobs, and young professionals are in the driver seat if they choose to have a career here in Guyana.  Social services are improving, and U.S. experts are helping identify, target, and deliver improvements.  We tripled bilateral trade, to over $3 billion dollars, by far the largest trading partner for Guyana, and one with investors looking to bring more value addition to the shores of Guyana.

The trade figures are one thing, but the trainings for hundreds of aspiring entrepreneurs, new jobs for thousands of Guyanese, and increase in foreign investment into Guyana are already bringing positive results, with more to come.  And, I’m absolutely thrilled to follow progress on the transformative and historic Gas-to-Energy project and what it will mean for every Guyanese who wants access to reliable, affordable electricity.  And, I am happy to say that the companies we brought are leading the way on safety, health, and providing a workplace free from sexual harassment or bullying while actively giving back to the communities across Guyana.  I am proud of their work, their charity, their creativity, and the partnerships they have created with Guyanese firms and employees.

Last but not least, security is a constant effort.  Our security partnership sends a strong signal that we are partners and we care about Guyana.  Thanks to the excellent partnership with law enforcement, we have both had successful extraditions of criminals that have no place in our nations or our neighborhood.  On the defense side, we provided millions of dollars in military training, undertook not one but now two major military exercises (Tradewinds) in just three years, an unprecedented feat for any country of this size in the region, and provided critical medical care to hundreds of Guyanese thanks to medical visits by the U.S. military.  Thank you to the GPF, GDF, CANU and the office of the National Security Advisor for the strong partnership to enhance the security of our neighborhood.  And, speaking of medical care, a major success of the last four years was partnering to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.  We donated over 355,000- COVID-19 vaccines – more than any other nation, and millions of dollars in equipment, PPE, and deep freeze freezers to store the vaccine not to mention all the training and support in response to the pandemic.

The list goes on and on.  I’m truly not running for re-election (!) so I’ll stop there, but just note how incredibly proud I am of all our joint success, and both the leaders and people of Guyana can clearly see that the United States is proud to be your partner of choice.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention some of the highest-level visits to and from Guyana over the past four years.  Together, we jointly hosted:  a 7-member bipartisan CODEL from the powerful US Congress House Ways and Means Committee; two SOUTHCOM Commanders, A/S Geoff Pyatt of the Bureau of Energy Resources and, yes, former Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo.  I was never so proud to be the U.S. Ambassador to Guyana as I was when the Secretary’s plane landed at Cheddi Jagan airport.  Seeing that plane with the United State of America logo on the side was just awe-inspiring for me.

And, then, Your Excellency, there was your highly productive trip to Washington last summer where you engaged with Vice President Harris, Secretary Blinken, EXIM Chairwoman Lewis, Department of Commerce, USAID, Congress, and multiple think tanks.  Each of these visits – both in the US and in Guyana – spoke to the importance that our two nations place on enhancing and strengthening democracy and trade in this Hemisphere.

In fact, we’re proud to be a strong partner for the entire Caribbean, and it has also been my honor to serve as the Secretary of State’s Representative to CARICOM and engage regularly with the talented members of the CARICOM Secretariat here in Georgetown.  With CARICOM, I have truly valued my relationship with the Secretary General and appreciate her advice and guidance on the many CARICOM engagements that took place over the year, including the very successful Summit of the Americas meeting in Los Angeles last year which resulted in actionable high-level joint committees tasked with improving food and energy security as well as access to finance in the CARICOM region.

All of these accomplishments are not just US Embassy accomplishments, of course.  They are mutual achievements of both Guyana and the U.S., that demonstrate that our partnership has been strengthened and deepened over these four years and signals that we will be key allies for years to come in the region that we share.  And, they don’t come easily or quickly – so keep in mind – One, one duddy build dam!

So, before I get accused of trying to compete with Minister Singh for time at the podium (!), I will end by saying thank you to every single person here tonight, whether you are with the government, opposition, civil society, private sector, university, media or just a private citizen – I thank you for your partnership and your friendship.  I also would not be listing all of these achievements tonight without the hard work of my own team, many of whom are here tonight, including Deputy Chief of Mission (DCM) Adrienne Galanek and the other teams and DCMs that I worked with before her, Mark Cullinane and Terry Steers-Gonzalez.  And, thanks to the new Netflix show, The Diplomat, you all now know what a DCM does at an Embassy!

I would also like to thank my entire family for their support, especially my husband, Kevin for his constant support, and who really only wanted to achieve one thing while in Guyana – and, that was to see your Giant Anteater.  Thanks to Melanie MacTurk and Karanambu Lodge, this was finally accomplished – he saw three – and we have achieved true success in Kevin’s eyes.

Your Excellency, ladies and gentlemen – I am deeply honored to have represented the United States as a guest in your land for as long as I have and to have worked with you to advance multiple joint priorities and objective in this pivotal country during this historic time.

You know – I mentioned three communities at the outset of my remarks that remind me of my time in Guyana – Adventure, Friendship, and Success.  But, there is another quaint community about an hour from here called Now or Never.  Every time I drive through the village, I think of all the possibilities that are NOW available for this young nation.  Ladies and Gentlemen – NOW is Guyana’s time and, although not “in person” for much longer, I will always be with you “in spirit” on your tremendous and historic journey.

Thank you and, I’m not going to say goodbye.  I’m just going to say “we gon link later, Guyana!”