AMBASSADOR YZAGUIRRE: (In Spanish.) Ladies and gentlemen, it’s my honor and pleasure to introduce a very special person to you and to the folks in the media. I had the pleasure of meeting her a long time ago. I won’t tell you how long ago, but I met her in leisure suit, so that gives you an idea of how long ago it was. (Laughter.)
Our country has been fortunate to have very distinguished, very smart, very capable Secretaries of State. At hard times and difficult times and during emergencies, we’ve been blessed with enormous talent and dedication. And we’re going through those kinds of challenges today around the world, whether it’s in the Middle East, whether it’s in Latin America, whether it’s our competition with former allies, and trade issues. The world is much more complicated than it ever has before. But I can tell you with all honesty that we are blessed to have a person who understands those issues, who has the stamina – and I know that – about that because we’ve worked together, we’ve travelled the country together – the stamina to deal with those issues and make us all very proud. Ladies and gentlemen I give to you the Secretary of State, Hillary Rodham Clinton. (Applause.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you (inaudible). Thank you as always. Hello, everyone. How are you tonight?
Good. Well, I am delighted to be here and I thank you for bringing all of the young people here. And I wanted to come and thank you all once again for everything that you do every day on behalf of this important relationship.
And Raul is too much of a gentleman, but we met each other 39 years ago. I was a kindergarten student; he was a student teacher. (Laughter.) But he has been a wonderful friend. He, along with Audrey and their family, are really people who I have such great affection for and admiration for. And I’m so grateful that they were willing to accept the President’s offer to serve our country here in the Dominican Republic. I also want to thank your DCM Chris Lambert for all that he is doing on behalf of this extraordinary team. Embassy Santo Domingo is being well-regarded because you’re getting results in many areas that we care about.
For example, I’ve talked often about the need to practice what I call 21st century statecraft and harness more tools to reach more people in more places. And I know that Sonia De Moya made that real by creating a virtual library that receives millions – I mean, millions of hits from all over Latin America and the Caribbean. Irene Gonzalez built an Embassy Facebook page that has attracted the second largest number of fans of any of our embassies. Think about that. (Applause.)
And in a tough budgetary environment back in Washington, we are tightening our belts all across the Department and USAID, but for Embassy Santo Domingo, even electrical bolts from on high are no match for the technical expertise of Manuel Ramirez, who put the telephone system back together after a direct lightning strike and saved this post nearly $1 million, and I am very grateful for that. (Applause.)
And when we discuss in our development work shifting from an aid model to an investment model, we’re talking about the kind of work that Sarah Majerowicz is doing in the USAID Health Office with Maternal and Child Health programs. In the 10 hospitals that USAID has set up as centers of excellence, in just the last year, maternal mortality has decreased an average of 50 percent, and we’re following that model around the world. (Applause.)
Now I know each of you has made your own contributions to our shared mission. Each of you has made sacrifices as individuals and through your families, and your outstanding commitment and interagency cooperation has been noticed. And I thank you also for everything you’ve done to support your colleagues in Port-au-Prince since the earthquake. They could not have gotten through such a terrible crisis without your support and your backing.
Finally, I want to say two words of special thanks to all of the Americans who are part of this whole-of-government team from all the other agencies and departments represented here. And to all of our Dominican employees – because I am well aware – secretaries come and go, ambassadors come and go, defense attaches and political officers come and go, but the locally employed staff stay and provide the continuity that everyone so desperately needs when they show up brand new to this post. (Applause.)
So thank you again for everything you do. I’m going to come down, I want to shake your hands and thank you personally, but I’m very proud to be serving with you. Thank you all. God bless. (Applause.)