Ambassador’s Welcome Reception Remarks May 8, 2019

Good evening, and welcome to the residence of the U.S. Embassy.

Many of you may know the house better than I do!  That’s because it’s your house, too, and a symbol of the importance the United States places on our bilateral cooperation.

Thank you officials of the Government of the Republic of Equatorial Guinea, Ambassadors, ladies and gentlemen, I appreciate your coming this evening to welcome me to this wonderful country. It is an honor to represent the United States as Ambassador to Equatorial Guinea, and I very much look forward to getting to know all of you over the next three years.  Over my twenty-six-year career as a diplomat, I have worked on three continents, with postings to Thailand, China, Mexico, and the Middle East. I come to you after seven years in Washington, D.C.  I was attracted to this career for the chance to create connections for the United States to other countries and communities, hopefully creating better understanding.

I have been in Malabo for just two months, but I already know this is a unique and beautiful country. I have already had a chance to visit Luba, Batete, Moka, Ureka, and the inside of the International Conference Center of Sipopo.  During my tenure, I look forward to working with the government, political parties, civil society, the private sector and the broader international community to support equatorial-guinean efforts to build success.  I come to Equatorial Guinea at critical time, when you are deciding the future direction of your country.  Last week, I attended the Third National Economic Conference with many of you. I was encouraged by the different ideas and recommendations for the government to diversity the economy, including the emphasis on investing in human capital.  There was also talk about developing agriculture, with your fertile soil and abundant rain; and expanding maritime transport.  But there are also many challenges, including the bureaucratic business climate and the need for greater investment in education and health.

We also hope to work with the government of Equatorial Guinea on regional peace and security – especially maritime security in the Gulf of Guinea.  This is important work because the threat is real.  Just this week, pirates tried to take a boat near the port of Luba. Thanks to the intervention of the Navy, I understand that they returned the ship.

Finally, I think it is important for the U.S. Embassy to promote the values of the United States. We believe multiparty democracy helps with stability, despite the sometimes messy nature of American policies.  We believe all voices should be heard here in Equatorial Guinea to improve conditions for everyone.  Every party needs access to citizens and to the media, and journalists need the freedom to report what they find and to hold elected authorities accountable.  Civil society also can play an important role, complementing and sometimes supplementing the work of the government. Many voices with many perspectives working together—that is what it means to have a democracy.

I look forward to working with all of you over the course of the next three years. Thank you for coming.  Please enjoy the party!