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Ambassador Rocha's Speaking Notes at the Farewell Ceremony at State Department

Speaking Notes for the Farewell Ceremony

at the end of Ambassador Jose Luis Rocha's tour of duty in Washington DC

November 2016

Ladies and gentlemen

I would like to thank you for taking time out of your busy schedules to come here to say farewell to me and my spouse, at this ceremony organized by the Office of Protocol on behalf of the State Department and the US Government.

While observing the Protocol, I would like to acknowledge the presence, in particular, of

Mr. Peter Barlerin, Deputy Assistant Secretary

Mr. Ambassador Peter Selfridge, Chief of Protocol and members of his team

Colleagues Ambassadors and representatives of the Diplomatic Corp in WDC

Colleagues from CV Embassy

Dear Guests and Friends

My dear wife Yamile and I are indeed honored with your presence here and we wanted on our name and on behalf of the Government of Cabo Verde to thank you sincerely.

We diplomats are kind of nomads in this job, we build bridges between states, nations, institutions and people. For this reason, we arrive, we stay and we leave.

When we arrive, we are happy to be welcomed by the Protocol, received by the President to present our credentials and integrated into the Diplomatic Corps resident family and to the authorities with whom we relate.

During our stay we have the arduous task of breaking rocks and building such bridges in bilateral and multilateral relations, but we also have more mild and pleasant tasks, those leading us to discover the attractions of the capital city, traveling the country, making friends in several circles of interest, and exchanging ideas with people of different backgrounds, making us richer as professionals and as people.

When the time of departure comes and even if we have a sense of our professional duty fulfilled, we feel the weight of saying goodbye to personal and cultural experiences and to friends we leave behind. We comfort ourselves with the use of commonplace that says what a diplomat's life is all about.

As a diplomat accredited to the United States, the State Department is our home, our direct and permanent counterpart in the exercise of our professional duty, by reason of its mandate, beyond intense exchange with others, in my case, with the Special Advisors for Africa at the White house, other Departments, Agencies and Think Thanks.

The State Department has given me moments of high political and diplomatic communications and conferences on the most important issues of security, trade, oceans, climate change, democracy and human rights and I also had the opportunity to meet and talk with the most senior leaders of the house, starting with Secretary Kerry.

I praise, in particular, the attention I received from the Bureau of African Affairs, namely from Assistant Secretary for Africa Mrs. Linda Thomas Greenfield, Principal Deputy Mr. Bruce Wharton, Deputy of ASA for West Africa Mr. Peter Barlerin, Director of the Office of West African Affairs Mr David Reimer, Deputy Director West Africa Affairs Ms. Vernelle Trim, Cape Verde DESK Mr. Jason Hugues, US Ambassador to Cape Verde Donald Heflin, and many more and all those that preceded these functions.

The Chief of Protocol and his wonderful team deserve a special applause. In them I found humanized relations, competent professionals and available, youthful and active people. Thank you Ambassador Peter Selfridge for making the Protocol Office, more than a system of diplomatic procedures and rules of precedence, indeed a true institute which promotes integration and participation of resident diplomat in the US political, economic and cultural life with lectures on the State of the Administration, recreational activities such as the recent Diplomacy by Design, the travels on Experiencing America, thematic receptions for Halloween, Thanks Giving, Christmas and many others.

I come from a country which a poet described as ten little grains of land scattered in the sea, in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, in reference to the ten small islands that forms the archipelago of Cabo Verde.

The sea provided the early contact between the islands and the US through whale fishing, with the fishermen recruited later settling in New England, a story told and illustrated in the New Bedford Whale Museum.

It was the beginning of an important Caboverdean migration to the US and the background for the fundamental human dimension in the history of the solid relations between the two countries, fortunately strengthened over time.

The US recognized the Independence of Cabo Verde, immediately after the celebration of the latter in 1975 and I personally have the honor of having been an almost permanent interlocutor in the relationship between our two countries since the decade of 80.

The US earlier assisted Cabo Verde through USAID development programs and afterward with two MCC compacts that certainly supported Cabo Verde on its graduation to MIC in 2008.

During my tenure as Ambassador in Washington DC I tried to pin point some directions for improving our relations, such as security and defense, economic growth and development and the empowerment of Caboverdean emigrant communities.

From an economic perspective I defended the competitive approach for the trade and investment relations in the framework of AGOA and other instruments.  The export of ethnic products, light industries, renewable energy, fisheries, tourism and other services offer huge opportunities for an incremental in our economic ties.

But, regarding the fact that Cabo Verde as SIDS still faces vulnerabilities, I defended a cooperative way to support building resiliencies in areas of capacity building (Trade), social (Education and Health) environmental (Climatic change) and Blue economy (health and economy of the sea)

We resumed bilateral consultations in November 2015 and all of these matters were part of the agenda. Since then the Embassy has sought to implement some of the guidelines resulting from the consultations. Now it will be a task whose follow- up I leave to my successor, M. Carlos Veiga, a prominent lawyer and former Prime Minister.

Our arrival in Washington it has been a rediscover of the city in its contemporary day to day business, but closely linked to its historic route, patrimonial and cultural heritage, since its establishment on the banks of the Potomac, to its role of political capital and headquarters of the main institutions of the executive, legislative and judicial and also, among others, the Breton Woods institutions, making it the target of one of the biggest diplomatic bodies in the world.

Serving a small country in a big country with US characteristics, brought me to face " a one thousand doors city" where sometimes I felt the need to reach out to a one stop shop.

I experienced great political and diplomatic moments in Washington DC in the last two and half years, wishing to highlight, in particular,  the US – Africa Summit, the normalization of US – Cuba diplomatic relations and the intense presidential electoral campaign which comes to its outcome next November 8.

A special word of thanks to the diplomats and officials of the Embassy who gave me their dedication and friendship, as a major contribution to achieving the objectives and results of my mission

A word of thanks to my wife Yami. Better than I could do, she represented Cabo Verde and well in various social diplomacy's circles such as the THIS for Diplomats, the Welcome to Washington, The African Ambassadors Spouses Association and many others. Born in Cuba, she has always stated her pride in representing her adopted country: Cabo Verde.

As I come to the end of my time as Ambassador in Washington, the Government of Cabo Verde has appointed me to the position of Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the United Nations in New York.

More than a simple drive with the duration of three hours, it will be a transition between an intensely bilateral to an intensely multilateral function.

A transition at a time of transition for the world and for the United Nations, as characterized by the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on October 24th on the occasion of the 71st anniversary of the organization.

Let’s hope that it will be a transition for an even better World.

In concluding let me express, on behalf of my wife and on my behalf, our appreciation again, for your presence, your patience in listening to me and for all the support and care you always gave to us.

Thank you very much

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