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Prime Minister's Address in honour of the Honourable William Jefferson Clinton

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At the Dinner in Honour of

The Honourable William Jefferson Clinton

At the Ballroom of the Sandals Grande Hotel

Saturday, January 18, 2003

Your Excellency the Governor General of St. Lucia, Dame Pearlette Louisy;

Your Excellency the Governor General of St. Vincent & the Grenadines, Sir Frederick Ballentyne;

Our Esteemed Special Guest the Hon. William Jefferson Clinton, 42nd President of the United States of America;

Colleague Prime Ministers of the OECS;

Members of the St. Lucia Cabinet of Ministers;

Chief Justice of the Eastern Caribbean Sir Dennis Byron;

Members of Parliament;

Their Excellencies, the Members of the Diplomatic Corps;

Other Distinguished Guests;

Ladies and Gentlemen;

Every now and then in the lives of individuals, as in the history of nations, magical moments occur. These are the occasions when the improbable becomes accessible, when the impossible becomes attainable, and when dreams and wishes find a tangible expression beyond reasonable expectation.

This is such a moment. In the global village in which we live and within the Pax Americana that, since the end of the Cold War has opened new possibilities for human development, the great personalities of our time and era have become household names, thanks to the immediacy of television and the electronic media.

More than ten years ago, the people of the Caribbean watched and followed the trajectory of the presidency of William Jefferson Clinton. Over that period of American prosperity, President Bill Clinton earned the admiration of most and captured the imagination of many. Tonight, we are honored with his presence among us. Tonight, we who have mostly seen greatness unfold from the proximity of our television screens, have the distinct pleasure and the honor of breaking bread with greatness -- in person.

President Clinton,

In the best tradition of Caribbean culture, a politician knows when he or she has made it or has lost it, when one becomes the subject of a Calypso. In the past week, one of our radio stations has been playing, over and over, a Calypso defending your record of achievement and accomplishment. The calypso was composed by the Mighty Sparrow -- a Trinidadian singer, born in Grenada, a product of our Caribbean, acknowledged and honoured as the world’s greatest calypsonian. It’s most popular refrain is "Don’t Touch Me President". Now, when a Caribbean Calypsonian whose favorite pastime is "dissing" politicians, tells the world Don’t Touch His President, then Sir, you know for sure that you have entered the annals of the untouchable, the invincible and the unassailable.

The ties that bind the United States and the Caribbean are not simply the links of history, but the association of family, migration, opportunity, and geography. It would be no exaggeration to say that not since John F. Kennedy has a United States President captured the minds and hearts of Caribbean people, as did President Bill Clinton during his tenure at the White House.

And so, Mr President, we extend the hand of friendship and the embrace of admiration. We welcome you once again to the Caribbean and especially now to St. Lucia. It is our expectation that, with the continuing considerable influence that you exert on the world stage, your presence here will exercise that magnetic pull and help St. Lucia become a center of gravity for others. We trust that, notwithstanding the brevity of your stay in St. Lucia, you have found our country and people exciting and welcoming, and that you will be encouraged to return again, and again, and again…

If you will allow me, I must also extend the sincere thanks of the Government and People of St. Lucia to the person most responsible for facilitating this visit – our Ambassador to UNESCO and the UN Agencies in Geneva, His Excellency Gilbert Chagoury. Ambassador Chagoury has proven to be a most accommodating representative of St. Lucia and has, since 1995, quietly made major contributions to the advancement of St. Lucia’s good name overseas. It was he who thought it possible to persuade President Clinton to visit St. Lucia and it was he who has helped to make this a reality.

In the scales of balance of gratitude, I extend also to Mr. Mark Weiner, Chief Executive Officer of Financial Innovations Inc. the appreciation of the Government of St. Lucia for their sponsorship of this momentous event.

In our culture, formal welcome is rarely extended to immediate family because they are family – Mamai la kai - children of the household, as we say -- but it is still appropriate to say thanks to the Prime Ministers of our sister states of the OECS who are here with us today: Prime Minister Vere Bird of Antigua & Barbuda, Prime Minister Pierre Charles of Dominica, Prime Minister Dr Keith Mitchel of Grenada, Prime Minister Dr Denzil Douglas of St. Kitts Nevis and Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves of St. Vincent & the Grenadines. Thank you for sharing this moment of magic and realization with us.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Distinguished Guests,

On behalf of us all, it is my distinct and profound pleasure to welcome the Honorable William Jefferson Clinton, 42nd President of the United States to this piece of God’s earth which we refer to as Simply Beautiful Saint Lucia -- and to this simple First Supper.


Look up more information here on the visit of the Honourable William Jefferson Clinton


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