U.S. congratulates Antigua, Dominica

Prime Minister Gaston Browne.
Photo courtesy of Antigua government

The United States has congratulated Antigua and Barbuda and Dominica for their 33rd and 36th year, respectively, of political independence from Great Britain.

Antigua and Barbuda celebrated Independence Day on Nov. 1, while Dominica did so two days later.

“For 33 years since your independence, the United States has been a close partner to Antigua and Barbuda,” said U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in a statement on Friday.

“Through the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative, we work together on maritime capacity building, military training and exercises, and counternarcotics operations,” he noted

Kerry said the United States also engages with Antigua and Barbuda through the Caribbean Community and Common Market, and the U.S. Caribbean Basin Initiative, which allows trade to flow between our two countries.

“On behalf of the people of the United States, I wish all Antiguans and Barbudans peace and prosperity in the year to come,” he said.

On Dominica’s Independence Day, Kerry noted that the island was the first in the Americas, which includes the Caribbean, to elect a female prime minister, adding that the country remains “a symbol of gender equality for the region and the world.”

The U.S. Secretary of States said the United States shares a “cooperative relationship with Dominica” through the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative and the U.S. Caribbean Basin Initiative, which grants duty-free entry into the United States for a number of goods.

“Our mutual interests in promoting trade and educational opportunities through USAID (United States Agency for International Development) and the Peace Corps will continue to unite us in the future,” he said. “I wish you the best during your Independence Day celebrations.”

In his Independence Message, Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Gaston Browne said, at 33, the twin-island state is “still a young star in the galaxy of older nations that form our world.

“Yet, already we have embedded in our society values and traditions that were achieved by others only after centuries of conflict, of protest, and of struggle,” he said.

“It is adherence, to those traditions and values that have kept our country peaceful and that have maintained the inherent cohesion of our community,” he added. “Within that calm and cohesion, we have given space to political differences and debate, as is right within a democracy that ensures us all liberty, freedom and choice,” Browne continued. “This diversity of views and respect for the rule of law are fundamental to maintaining our strong democratic traditions and our culture of peace.”

The Antiguan leader noted that his administration adopted office less than five months ago, pledging to “work to build a nation that respects all its people; that gives equal opportunity to all its citizens and residents; and that would construct a prosperous economy for the benefit of all.”

Browne also pledged to represent, promote and defend the interest of all – irrespective of their political persuasion, color, creed or class.

He said Antigua and Barbuda is “emerging from several years of little or no economic growth; from several years in which unemployment rose and businesses collapsed; from several years in which debt mounted and progress receded.

“Antigua and Barbuda was being left behind,” he declared. “And, so was its people.”

Browne said his job and his government’s is to reverse “those retrogressive trends and to accelerate economic growth and wealth creation.”

He said his administration has already started that process, stating that throughout the country “the fresh air of hope is being breathed by all, and energy and vigour permeates our nation.

“Already, despite the enormous obstacles and challenges we inherited, my government is leading the way to a strengthened economy and a vibrant society.

“It is a task from which we will not shirk; a path from which we will not bend; and an undertaking from which we will not shrink,” Browne said.

“Antigua and Barbuda cannot and will not stand still under the leadership of my administration. We will be unrelenting in our pursuit of a better life for our people,” he added.

“We have a goal of maintaining the independence of our country; the advancement of our people; and a beneficial place in the world’s economy,” Browne continued, stating that his government’s goal is to “transform Antigua and Barbuda into an economic powerhouse in the Caribbean.”

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