Remarks by Charge d’Affaires Timothy Zuniga-Brown at the U.S. Embassy’s celebration of the 246 anniversary of U.S. independence

Ambassadors and members of the diplomatic corps, Members of the press and independent civil society, Ladies and Gentlemen, Friends all, Good evening and welcome. It is a real honor and pleasure to have you all here in person!

This is the first Independence Day celebration to be held at our Residence in three years. It makes this celebration of 246 years of American independence that much more special.

As I end my term with you, I look back and forward. I would like to share why I remain fiercely optimistic that Cuba’s future will be bright, especially after accompanying you through some of the most iconic moments in the recent history of this beautiful island.

In these two years, we lived through the devastation of the pandemic, Cuba’s worst economic crisis in six decades, the handover to a new president, and witnessed, and some of you suffered, the government’s response to the spontaneous, peaceful and massive protests when an entire people gave voice to their legitimate demands.

While our hearts are now breaking in the face of an unprecedented exodus, these events indelibly mark a before and an after. In spite of everything, I am an inveterate optimist for the future. If only they would dare to have confidence in the people, the youth will build their future in their homeland.

Trust the people: the future will only have stability and legitimacy if decisions are made with all Cubans, for all Cubans. Truly, the key to unlocking the extraordinary potential that exists in Cuba lies with the Cuban people and no one else. There is something wrong with the never-ending belief that foreign policies, be they ideologies or market opportunities, are indispensable to the deserved future of this island.

I have witnessed the spirit, the ingenuity, the hard work and the mean sense of humor that characterize the Cuban people. Trust the people: instead of repression, unleash a wave of innovation and let them drive an economy that generates real prosperity for the benefit of all.

I envision a country where the rulers listen to the farmers, freeing them to actually grow the food Cuba needs to feed itself.

I envision a country where all Cubans can express themselves freely, can fully enjoy their human rights, universal rights and can envision a better future for themselves and their children in their own homeland.

During his speech last month at the Summit of the Americas, President Biden described democracy as the ‘essential ingredient for the future of the Americas’.

Unfortunately, we are facing the worst human rights crisis in sixty years. More than a thousand ordinary Cubans were arrested for peacefully demonstrating and demanding freedom, food, medicine and other basics.

Other patriots are much better known: Jose Daniel Ferrer, Luis Manuel Otero Alcantara, Maykel “El Osorbo”, Felix Navarro. The banished reappeared: Anamely Ramos, Omara Ruiz Urquiola. Others present here with you, others that were prevented by the government.

This reality is why unwavering support for human rights and democracy has been the cornerstone of U.S. policy for so many years, across administrations.

Our approach is to support the Cuban people. It is essential to strengthen civil society, to strengthen private entrepreneurs who are trying to build a more prosperous economy, and it is important to facilitate financial and humanitarian assistance to the Cuban people. The connections, air or consular, that allow the people to continue to intertwine more and more.

Have confidence in the people. Just start with having confidence in them. The people are what give me confidence in a bright future for Cuba. Thank you for your attendance and for joining us in this celebration of the 246th anniversary of our republic.

I invite you to a toast. Long live Cuba and long live the United States of America!