by Ambassador Linda Taglialatela, U.S. Ambassador to Saint Lucia
“That poet you love, Derek Walcott, I just saw he teaches at Boston University, and I think you should apply,” Elizabeth Alexander’s mother told her. She thought she would be a dancer but shared her writings with Walcott who told her to write more. Twenty years later, with several advanced degrees and now a professor herself, Alexander read her poem “Praise Song for the Day” at the inauguration of President Barack Obama in 2009. “He gave me a huge gift,” Alexander said of Walcott. “He took a cluster of words, and he lineated it. And I saw it.”
It is relationships like these that we celebrate this month. Caribbean cultures, traditions, and values strengthen the United States and add new chapters to our common story. Poets, athletes, and entrepreneurs with Saint Lucian roots infuse our country with creativity, talent, and enterprise. The tens of thousands of visitors that flow between Saint Lucia and the United States are a testament to our close ties and friendship among our people.
Our countries share in the hemisphere’s heritage of democracy and representative government. Those shared values of the rule of law and democratic governance, which with time and sacrifice have guided both our countries to become more inclusive and just, continue to safeguard our human rights.
This coming week, President Biden will welcome Prime Minister Pierre and leaders from around the Western Hemisphere to Los Angeles for the Ninth Summit of the Americas. The President has a simple but ambitious goal: help the entire hemisphere realize its potential as a region where democracy delivers for everyone and people can realize their aspirations no matter where they live.
The Summit focuses on the bedrock of all our societies: our people. COVID-19 has claimed more than 2.7 million lives in our hemisphere and inflicted massive economic harm – job losses, declining income, rising poverty. The economic crisis hit marginalized communities hardest. Job losses have been especially high for women, younger workers, and those who work in the informal sector. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine raised the price of essential goods, from fertilizer to wheat to gasoline. We have all felt these effects. The United States remains inextricably linked with the peoples and the economies of the Caribbean and the wider hemisphere.
Through the Summit, we must commit to a green and equitable economic recovery, resilience in our health systems, and revitalized democracies. The COVID-19 pandemic showed gaps in our public health systems we must work together to overcome. We must bolster transparent and accountable governance and promote and protect human rights, social inclusion, and gender, racial, and ethnic equity.
We can generate inclusive prosperity by building a digital economy to bring more people into formal jobs, so we must commit to promoting interoperable, resilient, secure, and reliable telecommunications networks and to facilitating affordable, universal broadband Internet access.
Harnessing the hemisphere’s tremendous clean energy potential can serve as a driver for economic development and address the climate crisis, so we must commit to promoting the use of efficient and energy-saving technologies to achieve net zero emissions; cooperating to increase wind, solar, bioenergy, and hydroelectricity; and setting goals to scale-up renewable energy.
Our work together to improve institutions and build resilient communities will contribute to a growing economy, enhance regional safety, and increase opportunities for the people of Saint Lucia and the Eastern Caribbean.
I invite you to join me in celebrating Caribbean-American Heritage Month 2022. We have a unique opportunity to meet the health, climate, and economic challenges before us. The Summit of the Americas offers us the chance to chart that course together.