Standing on the protocol already established, I would like to express my appreciation to the Most Honorable Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis, Minister Henfield, Director Davis, President Schaeffer, and all the esteemed guests here with us tonight. Good evening and thank you for joining us.
I know the past few weeks have been very difficult for many of you, and for your fellow Bahamians. Many of us here tonight have friends and family in Grand Bahama and Abaco. Many of us have been working tirelessly to support relief and recovery efforts.
Be assured that the U.S. government will continue to stand with the people of The Bahamas and work hand-in-hand with the Bahamian government to provide assistance to meet the acute humanitarian needs of those affected by Hurricane Dorian.
In the wake of that storm—the Bahamian people have inspired us. Your resilience, your generosity, your courage in the face of tragedy have inspired us—have inspired me. I have visited Grand Bahama and Abaco many times since Dorian passed over those islands, and I have seen the destruction.
But I have also seen hope and strength. In spite of the devastation, in spite of the difficult work that lies ahead, Abaco and Grand Bahama will recover.
And even as this recovery proceeds, Mr. Prime Minister I know you asked President Trump to amplify a very important message, and that message is that The Bahamas is open for business. The U.S. government stands beside you to help spread that message.
Even tonight’s ceremony is about reaffirming that message, which is why I am pleased we were able to partner with the American Chamber of Commerce. The American Chamber of Commerce will play a vital role in providing an interface between U.S. and Bahamian companies seeking partnerships, including in Grand Bahama and Abaco.
These partnerships will create mutual prosperity and help connect The Bahamas to the world’s highest quality and most innovative products, services, and investments to boost and diversify the Bahamian economy – including here in downtown Nassau. President Schaeffer, thank you for being an essential part of our efforts.
And tonight we are here together with our Bahamian counterparts to officially break ground on a new U.S. Embassy. But this is more than a ground breaking. It’s an investment in the future of our bilateral partnership. And an investment in the future of downtown Nassau.
Our new facility will provide a secure, modern, and resilient platform for U.S. diplomacy in The Bahamas. Its central location will facilitate our partnership with the Bahamian government as well as support to U.S. citizens living and traveling here.
We wanted our new embassy to be reflective of our strong bilateral partnership, so we challenged the designers to incorporate unique Bahamian features into our U.S. embassy plans. For example, the design features a play on a Bahamian-style two-story louvered porch. The designers also traveled throughout the islands and worked hard to incorporate the vegetation and geological features that make Bahamian landscapes unique.
The Embassy will also house a permanent art collection which will showcase works by both American and Bahamian artists, including by one of our partners here tonight, Antonius Roberts. His pieces will portray the long history of cross-pollination, cultural exchange, and collaboration that have made our nations richer and more resilient, both in times of prosperity and adversity. (slow) Because it is precisely during challenging times that true partnerships become stronger, and that is what I invite us to remember and celebrate tonight.
In closing, thank you again for joining me, and for helping us remind the world that The Bahamas is open for business.
And now, it is my pleasure to invite Foreign Minister Henfield to introduce the Most Honorable Prime Minister.