It is my privilege to greet you as we celebrate our 39th anniversary of Independence under the theme One Purpose, One Vision, One Nation.
The COVID 19 pandemic has spared no one and has been especially difficult for tourism-dependent small island developing states like ours. We have had to divert scarce resources to prop up social programmes and strengthen healthcare systems. The results however have been commendable and well worth the sacrifice. Our proactive and decisive leadership and collective efforts have to date resulted in minimal loss of life and containment of the virus.
We must however remain vigilant!
I pause to extend sympathies to those who have lost loved ones from this pernicious virus. I encourage all of us to adhere to the health and safety protocols wherever you are.
We remain in an active hurricane season.
We are also witnesses to scenes highlighting the still present and shameful scourge of racism, reminiscent of a bygone era. We also remain at the mercy of an international financial system that is reluctant to develop accessible, financial instruments to support the developmental needs of small states exacerbated by the pandemic.
It is not however all doom and gloom. As I reflect on our theme, I am buoyed by the resilience of our people. In 39 years, we have built a country which has weathered many storms both manmade and natural. We have developed a model of democracy, good governance and the rule of law which is a global exemplar. We remain active members of CARICOM, the United Nations and the Commonwealth and continue to expand our diplomatic footprint across the globe.
We have been pleased to welcome a British Resident Commissioner to Antigua and Barbuda and look forward to resetting and strengthening our relationship with the United Kingdom.
In these tumultuous times, our mantra remains: friends of all and enemies of none. Our diaspora and friends have been with us along our journey of nation-building. This year we pause to recognise your contributions. We call on you to continue to play your part in supporting, promoting and investing in Antigua and Barbuda. Visit us as soon as you can and as often as you can.
As we prepare for 2021 and our 40th anniversary of Independence, we invite you to join us for a homecoming celebration like no other.
Happy 39th Independence to all Antiguans and Barbudans at home and abroad.