Remarks as prepared
Ambassador Sarah-Ann Lynch
Virtual 4th – Celebrating the 244th Independence of the United States of America
July 4, 2020, 6:00 PM
Hello everyone, and happy 4th of July. I am Sarah-Ann Lynch, U.S. Ambassador to Guyana. A very warm welcome to everyone online with us this evening as we celebrate the 244th anniversary of the independence of the United States of America.
First, let me state the obvious. This year’s celebration is very different from other years. With social distancing protocols in place, it didn’t seem proper to have an in-person event at this time as Americans all over the world – in Guyana and the United States – are limiting their attendance at large celebrations in order to remain healthy and safe.
2020 will no doubt go down in history around the world as a landmark year which has changed the way we interact, work, travel, shop, learn, and worship. Due to the COVID-19 virus we have suffered many losses; some have lost their lives. And, because we are “all in it together,” the U.S. government is proud to have committed robust assistance to Guyana for its efforts to fight COVID-19, and our assistance is not over yet.
2020 also saw a growth in social movements around the globe, related to racial equality. Protests erupted in response to the death of George Floyd in Minnesota and citizens expressed their concern by peacefully taking to the streets to petition the government for redress. Peaceful protest is a part of a great American tradition, and these protesters reminded us all that social change is a work in progress in America, and needs constant attention.
Eliminating discrimination and inequality across the globe is not only the morally just thing to do, it is also necessary for sustainable, inclusive economic growth and prosperity. Economic opportunity must be inclusive, enhance opportunities for all people and recognize the intersectionality of race, ethnicity, gender, disability, sexual orientation, and gender identity. The U.S. government values exchanges with hemispheric partners like Guyana to find solutions to these common challenges.
And, I am proud of the work we’ve done in Guyana this year, despite all the challenges. For example, our law enforcement partnerships underscore the universality of human rights, ensuring that programs focus on building investigative and prosecutorial skills including awareness of bias-motivated violence. They address the challenges police officers face in maintaining public order while protecting the rights of citizens and encouraging citizen involvement in maintaining a safe and law-abiding community.
Further on the security front, our cooperation with the Guyana Police Force this year has led to several international fugitive returns of criminals trying to evade prosecution and penalty of the law.
This year we also saw the growth of a local chapter of the Overseas Security Advisory Council, a collaboration between the private sector and law enforcement to promote security cooperation, and by extension, prosperity.
Our Political and Economic Section facilitated two congressional visits over the past year from the House Foreign Affairs Committee, signaling unprecedented engagement on governance, prosperity, and security.
We also provided technical assistance to Guyana’s election commission and funded a substantial observer mission for an election that has lasted for many months.
Our team also worked hard to promote bilateral trade, advocating for and eventually welcoming a new U.S. flag carrier, which turned out to be instrumental in the repatriation effort both for Americans returning to the United States as well as Guyanese stranded abroad to return to Guyana.
Our Security Cooperation Office, under the Department of Defense, hosted the New Horizons 2019 Humanitarian and Civic Assistance Exercise, in which almost six hundred dedicated U.S. troops and civilians participated. They built three community centers and one women’s shelter, and treated more than 13,000 medical patients across multiple regions in Guyana. With a total investment surpassing eight million U.S. dollars, the U.S. government has proven once again that there is no cost too big when it comes to the steadfast commitment to our Partners.
Our Consular colleagues worked hand in hand with aviation and immigration officials to increase capacity to deter and detect fraudulent documents, ensuring more effective border security. They have also participated in technical workshops and exchanges with the Child Protection Agency to prepare for Guyana’s implementation of the Hague convention on Adoption, making Guyana the 100th country in the world to do so.
So, as we celebrate America’s 244th birthday tonight, I draw your attention to some anniversaries of historic events.
For example, this year marks 30 years since the enactment of the Americans with Disabilities Act, which has transformed American society and enabled a generation of Americans with disabilities more equal opportunities.
2020 also marks 100 years of the passing of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which gave women the right to vote. While we are proud of these anniversaries and what they mean toward achieving a just and free society for all, we recognize there is still much work to do and barriers to overcome.
As I reflect this year on what it means to be American, I can’t help but to think of U.S. ingenuity and U.S. persistence.
American inventor and businessperson, Thomas Edison said, “I have not failed. I have just found 10,000 ways that won’t work. Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.” We saw that U.S. perseverance play out last month in a historic public-private partnership between NASA and SpaceX during the launch of the Dragon spacecraft, beginning a new era of human spaceflight. Whether it is innovative science, forward thinking business or protecting citizen freedom, the U.S. is always at the forefront.
So, while I continue to serve my country in Guyana and travel throughout this beautiful “land of many waters,” I think about that dream that is America. The dream that our founding fathers had and the dream that so many immigrants had and continue to have. That dream is still unfinished. It requires attention; it requires evaluation; and, most of all, it requires the will to adapt and the will to change. So, while we continue to work toward making that dream a reality, so that we truly have “liberty and justice for all” and we truly have “a more perfect union,” I leave you with this final thought: my right to speak, your right to protest, our collective hard work towards the promise of a better tomorrow, is all part of what it means to be a responsible citizen in a free society.
So please lift a glass, for the promise of “these truths to be self-evident,” that all are created equal. I wish you a very Happy 4th of July.