Thank you so much Allison, for your inspiring words and Joe for your kind introduction!
Good afternoon and welcome! It is a great honor for me to be here with you in La Paz – truly a Ciudad Maravilla! – as we celebrate the 247th anniversary of the independence of the United States of America. This year we are highlighting the sights, sounds, and food of the equally wonderful New York City – a city that symbolizes freedom and diversity.
I would like to begin by recognizing our distinguished guests, who include representatives of the Foreign Ministry, officials from the diplomatic corps, partners from the private sector and civil society, youth leaders, and many other friends. Thanks for being with us. A special welcome to the Senators and Deputies of the Plurinational Assembly of Bolivia, to the honorable mayors of Cochabamba, Manfred Reyes Villa, and of Potosí, Jhonny Llaly; the President of the Supreme Electoral Tribunal, Oscar Hassenteufel; and the Princess of Jordan Sarah Zeid, a dignitary of American origin who is on an official visit to Bolivia.
I would also like to express our special gratitude to our corporate sponsors connected to the United States and to our embassy staff for making this beautiful celebration possible.
Today, we invite you to join our U.S. 4th of July traditions by celebrating democracy, freedom, independence, and justice: the fundamental values that the United States has strived to uphold and strengthen for nearly two and a half centuries.
And today, as we commemorate our freedom and independence, we cannot forget the Ukrainian people who, with immense courage, continue to defend their sovereignty, territory, freedom, and democracy in the face of the brutal Russian invasion that has destroyed tens of thousands of families and damaged the global economy. The United States and the vast majority of the world stand united with the people of Ukraine.
The United States Declaration of Independence emphasizes that we all have the right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” This declaration continues to be, for us, our national ideal. As Americans, we aspire to treat everyone with dignity and respect, to reject hate and bias, and to provide equal opportunity for all people. However, as President Biden has said, “democracy is hard work” and the job is “never finished,” so we will continue to strive to advance our aspirations.
Although I just arrived in La Paz 11 days ago, it is very clear to me that Bolivians share these same values and these same aspirations. Justice, freedom of expression, diversity, inclusion, mutual respect, and human rights are important to Bolivians and Americans alike.
Many of you here today have dedicated your lives to protecting democracy and improving the lives of your fellow citizens. Whether you are a youth activist, an indigenous community leader, or a journalist, your voices are important. We are proud to stand with you.
The United States is also committed to ensuring that everyone has access to education and decent jobs. Together, we can increase trade and investment opportunities that will benefit both Bolivians and Americans and contribute to sustainable growth.
Trade between Bolivia and the United States surpassed $1 billion last year. Of all of Bolivia’s trading partners, the United States purchases the greatest variety of Bolivian national products.
We are proud that this year, the U.S. government recognized singani as a distinctive product of Bolivia, which we expect will help increase exports of singani to the United States, its largest foreign market. As singani becomes more widely recognized in the United States, the families involved in its production here in Bolivia will benefit.
Singani is just the latest example of the opportunities and benefits that are possible when the United States and Bolivian governments work together with the private sector. And this cooperation isn’t limited to economic issues. Whether we are talking about the climate crisis, irregular migration, human trafficking, or a pandemic… no country can address these challenges alone. The only way to face these challenges is by working together to achieve our common goals.
We remain open to working more closely with the Bolivian government, so we do not miss more opportunities to address issues that concern Bolivians and Americans alike. We must work at all levels – with governments, with civil society, with multilateral institutions, and others—to effectively manage the challenges we face as a global community.
Although New York City may be thousands of miles away, it represents the energy and spirit we share. The two cities defy the heights – La Paz with its majestic Illimani and its modern and efficient cable car, and New York with its world-famous skyscrapers. New York is known for its fusion of cultures and traditions; it is enriched by immigrants from all over the world. La Paz is also a mixture of cultures and traditions, where people from diverse backgrounds come together to create a vibrant and multicultural society. Both La Paz and New York share a commitment to equality, justice, and human rights.
We are proud of the close ties between our peoples that have strengthened the friendship between Bolivia and the United States over time. And this afternoon we reaffirm our commitment to our shared values, which have been and will continue to be the engine of our friendship and cooperation.
Thank you for your leadership, your friendship, and for joining us to celebrate this important holiday.
Cheers and Happy 4th of July!