Remarks by Ambassador Joseph Mondello
July 4 Reception
Wednesday, July 3, 2019
UPickTT Farm, Chaguaramas
Welcome and thank you for joining us to celebrate America’s 243rd birthday. I am pleased to see so many Trinbagonians and representatives from other countries joining us today.
Before I get going, I want to express my sincere gratitude to everyone who assisted in organizing tonight’s event, especially our July 4 coordinator Tracyann Saunders, Joe Mahoney for coordinating security, Yamily Arab for helping organize the volunteers, and of course, all of our volunteers, without whose help the event would not be possible.
To our many donors – listed on the back of the program and on signs around the venue – thank you very sincerely for your generosity in making this an evening to remember.
To the U.S. Embassy staff and Marine Security Guard Detachment, thank you for all of your excellent work. Special thanks to Staff Sergeant Scott Johnson for his exceptional leadership. And thank you to the Prison Services Band for the wonderful music.
This evening New York and the songs made popular in New York in the early 20th century are our theme. I thought it would be appropriate given how many Trini-Americans – about 250 thousand – call New York home.
New York is my hometown. The music you are hearing tonight celebrates the growth of New York into one of the world’s great cities.
And I must say, to my New York ears, Steel Pan music never sounds sweeter than when played on a hot summer day in a New York City subway.
Tonight as you listen to George Cohan’s, “Give My Regards to Broadway” and Irving Berlin’s “Blue Skies,” I want you to remember we share those blue skies and that it is not such a far distance between us.
Ships carrying goods back and forth between Old Glory and Sweet Trinidad are now carrying more — 13 percent more last year over 2017, or an increase of 650 million U.S. dollars, say the latest statistics.
I said it when I first arrived and I will say it again, balanced trade relations like the ones between our two countries lead to greater prosperity and opportunity for both.
Did you know those same ships under those same blue skies carry 39 percent, or 3.7 billion U.S. dollars, of Trinidad and Tobago’s exports to the United States?
Who is your partner of the future? It must be America. Why…
- First, and foremost, it is because we share core values, which are the bedrock of any strong relationship. Values like belief in democracy, protection of individual liberties and human rights, respect for a vibrant press, and trust in free market systems.
- Second, because we share strong economic ties. In fact, we are your number one trading partner, by far. I already listed some impressive economic stats, but let me give you one more. To help the Trinidad and Tobago economy grow, the United States, under the Caribbean Basin Initiative, granted 5.1 billion U.S. dollars worth of the products, duty free, on items you exported to the U.S. since 2013. Yes, that is billion with a B.
- Third, because our cultures are so intertwined. Where would popular American culture be without the contributions of Trinibagonian or Trini-Americans like Winston Duke, Lorraine Toussaint, Jackee Harry, Nicki Minaj, and former New York Knicks point guard Mike Bibby, to name just a few.
- Finally, it is because we live in the same neighborhood and neighbors help keep the neighborhood safe. In recent years our nearly 10 million U.S. dollars in security assistance strengthened your disaster response and enhanced the readiness of your security forces to counter transnational threats, radicalization, and organized crime , and defend our borders.
What I am saying here, folks, is that we have worked hard to be a tried and true friend. We don’t agree on everything…no two countries do. The important thing is that our partnership, and our friendship, runs deep and is mutually beneficial.
Let me leave you on this Independence Day with a quote from one of my country’s founding fathers, and a former Ambassador, Benjamin Franklin. He once said, “Where liberty dwells, there dwells my country.” If that be true ladies and gentlemen, than tonight I celebrate in America.
Thank you and God Bless America and Trinidad and Tobago.