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40th Anniversary of Independence

COMMUNICATION BY AMBASSADOR OF CABO VERDE TO THE US

H.E. JOSE LUIS ROCHA

AT THE CELEBRATION OF THE 40TH ANNIVERSARY OF INDEPENDENCE

OF CABO VERDE

BOSTON, STATE HOUSE, JULY 2, 2015

Governor Baker

Representative Evandro de Carvalho

Senator Viny de Macedo

Consul General Pedro Graciano

Dear fellow Caboverdean

Dear American friends

Distinguished American- Caboverdean

Ladies and Gentlemen

Good afternoon to ALL

PREAMBLE

The magic is that we are all gathered here to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Independence of Cabo Verde, following the Proclamation on July 5, 1975.

Happiness is the feeling of doing this at the same time the United States of America celebrates its 239 years as an Independent Nation as per the Declaration on July 4, 1776.

Such a gift, the History offers, leads us to say HERE and TODAY

  • Congratulations to the US for its July 4!
  • Congratulations to Cabo Verde for its July 5th!

I wanted to greet everyone present and tell you how my wife Yamile and I feel honored to participate in such important and symbolic event for the first time, in my capacity as Ambassador of Cabo Verde to the US.

Indeed, last year, when presenting my credentials to President OBAMA, I remembered the essential foundations upon which was built and continues to be constructed the relationship of friendship, mutual trust and co-operation between the US and Cabo Verde.

One of these fundamentals is the Caboverdean presence in the US since the mid-eighteenth century which, generation after generation, has given way to an important community, spread throughout the US, but with a more demographically relevant concentration in the region of New England.

A community that prides itself, on its roots, its integration, its function as a human bridge and its labor and intellectual contribution to the common cause of economic and social progress of both the US and Cabo Verde.

Similarly, in good times the Independence of Cabo Verde aided a relationship of sovereignty, free and mutually respectful, based on shared principles and values, such as peace, respect for fundamental human rights and democratic principles of good governance in political, economical and social management.

I could then hear President Obama and take satisfaction in that we coincide in the same reading on the relations between the US and Cabo Verde. Indeed, the President appreciated the Excellence that characterizes the relations between our two countries going to the source of it, on the one hand, in the historical presence of Caboverdean in the US and the need for its continued empowerment and, on the other hand, in the values that make Cape Verde a model of democracy, respect for human rights, good governance, transparency and regional security.

40 YEARS AGO

Ladies and Gentlemen

 40 years ago, specifically on Saturday, July 5th, 1975, the National Assembly, on behalf of the people of Cape Verde, solemnly proclaimed the Republic of Cape Verde as an independent nation, sending that same day to publication on the Official Journal of the new Republic, the Proclamation Text.

I would cite the following passages:

"The History tells that repeated attempts at social emancipation of our islands although generated their martyrs and anonymous heroes, have always been strangled by colonial oppression. It fitted to the modern generations, illuminated by the liberation ideology of colonized peoples, imbued with the spirit of Bandung, to understand that the problem of misery and social backwardness of Cabo Verde Islands led back to a political issue and as such could never be solved in the context of colonial subjection and alienation of human freedom. Thus, we postulate to the claim and to the struggle for Independence. "

In conclusion, further:

"So, we people of the islands broke the chains of colonial subjugation and freely choose our African destination"

The Proclamation reflects the breakdown of reasons with former colonial policy, notably the misery, social delay and alienation of freedom on the islands, while projecting Independency as a solution to those problems.

I wanted to stress here how the proclamation of the Independence of Cabo Verde in 1975, uses the same rights, principles and values ??that dictated the Declaration of the US Independence in 1776

Citing the Declaration

"When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation. "

As later

"We, therefore, the Representatives of the United States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; ... "

THE JOURNEY AHEAD

Ladies and Gentlemen

Looking back at the 40 years as an independent nation, shows the path taken by Cape Verde, made of difficulties, doubts, determination, vision, results and new challenges.

Difficulties, to start with a new country and a new State without own natural resources and with a memory of hunger derived from endemic drought and the country’s inability to self - feed, but also with an inherited reality of the colonial period, in which granaries were empty, the treasure was zero, the physical, social and institutional infra-structures nonexistent and human capital sparsely formed. There were only two high schools in Cabo Verde at that time and GNP per capita was then about 190 USD.

Doubts, to the extent that, neither some authoritative voices within the international community, nor many Cape Verdeans, believed then that a future was possible on the islands. Such was the desolation of drought and the few chances of agriculture in the meager territory, as well as the limitations of an internal market. History tells us that the new State began with a credit of 300 000 USD awarded by Portugal.

Determination, which came to demonstrate that behind the political, not always human solution goes through mathematical equations. It happened that the political will has launched hands to working fronts to combat drought and desertification, rise soil and water conservation structures, increase the chances of agriculture, built and made available public goods, through infra-structure, health and education, as well as seeking and innovating intangible answers to the progressive improvement of the quality of life for the Caboverdean.

The reasons for this determination can be multiple, but their common denominator goes through good governance at all levels allowing to manage potential conflicts and to lend the values of democracy to the management of the political system; to the management of economic market; to the management of the social system, through access to education, health and answers to inclusion.

Also, allowed to integrate the solidarity of the international co-operation in an efficient and transparent manner, as well as the participation of the Diaspora, as part of the Caboverdean Global Nation.

Vision, meaning that, after the initial phase of emergency and reconstruction, progress was being properly guided by strategic planning instruments, defining the way forward in the medium and long term horizons. More recently the DECRP guide towards the transformation of Cabo Verde into an international center for services from its geostrategic position in the middle Atlantic, as the 2030 Development Vision promotes the construction of a sustainable market economy throughout several competitive clusters. Moreover, Cabo Verde joined and is part of African countries that could achieve most of the MDGs in the 2015 target regarding most social concerns, as the country is taking stock of the new and post 2015 SDOs, which aid other areas from agriculture, economic development, integrated environmental management, peace, security and governance as important assets for a durable development.

Results, that brought the undeniable global transformation of the economy and society of Cabo Verde at the length of forty years as an independent country. The economy grew steadily and more diverse mainly in services sector, including tourism, to allow a GNP per capita today estimated above 4000 USD. The human and social development more sustainable, gave way to a new Caboverdean man and woman with more opportunities and access to health, education, housing and culture. Cabo Verde today boasts of modern transport and information technologies infra-structure and has undertaken several reforms in the public sector administration, the economic regulation, the public finances, taxation and the Business environment to pave its external competitiveness both in trade and investment. The international community has measured these advances with high level of appreciation, from democracy to economic and press freedoms, from the governance to human development index, transparency and fight against corruption.

As many, I have the privilege of having been part of the Independence generation, since I was born a few years before, I assisted to the birth of the new country and as an actor and witness, I can give my testimony about the wonderful transformation of Cabo Verde that followed the colonial days.

Challenges persist, however, considering still the high degree of economic vulnerability of Cabo Verde, partly because of structural limitations of its market (isolation, fragmentation and small size, absence of mineral resources) and partly due to depletion or reduction factors that so far supported the growth of Cabo Verde’s economy (public aid, shipping emigrants, IDE).

If independence in 1975 brought the sovereignty, democratic opening in 1990 the plural freedom, the graduation of Cape Verde in 2008 off the LDCs list to MIC and the persistence of the international economic crisis which since then impacted negatively, challenged Cabo Verde to overcome the persistent vulnerabilities, and to find new paradigms, including new partnerships, for the competitiveness of its economy.

Indeed Cabo Verde has no choice but to rely on increased domestic opportunities while boosting the supply side by strengthening the entrepreneurial capacity, internationalization and export promotions.

From this perspective the future is today, the path can only be forward and the responsibility belongs to all Caboverdean, the Diaspora included.

The US and Cabo Verde

Ladies and Gentlemen

The relation of friendship and co-operation between Cape Verde and the United States is part of the solution to allow Cabo Verde to become a competitive economy.

The politico-diplomatic Dialogue which has been ongoing and at all levels, essentially aims to the construction of pillars for this purpose, namely:

  • The cooperative security through which the two sides will strengthen their mutual trust and undertake co-operation towards more bilateral and multilateral talks and toward more stability and more security to the West Africa region ;
  • The development of win – win economic partnerships by strengthening the bilateral legal framework and by supporting the Business development in trade and investment.
  • The empowerment of Caboverdean Diaspora, giving greater content to integration in fields such as citizenship, education, the economic entrepreneurship and cultural promotion of Cabo Verde and strong support to a united Diaspora to fulfill this agenda

    The Embassy and the Consulate general are instruments of the Caboverdean diplomacy in promoting these objectives. So, I wanted to launch an appeal and invite the Business community of Americans and Caboverdean in America to take advantage of trade and investment opportunities that Cape Verde might offer, targeting both the domestic market and the external market to which the country has access. And, in this particular, the reauthorization of AGOA few days ago, for the next ten years, is a chance to be seized as it offers the potential for increased economic relations between US and Cabo Verde.

    Ladies and Gentlemen

Finally, I renew my greetings to all present, as well as I leave a word of appreciation and greetings to all Cape Verdean Communities in US, be them in New England, Connecticut, New York, Newark, New Jersey, Atlanta, North and South Carolina South, Florida, California, around Washington DC and wherever else they are.

Long live to the US

Long live to Cabo Verde

Thank you!!!

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