July 3, 2015
¡Buenas tardes a todos, feliz cumpleaños Estados Unidos!
Thank you for joining us tonight to celebrate the 239th birthday of the United States of America. Fortunately for me, I don’t have to try to blow out all those candles. It’s a pleasure for me to be here with such distinguished company at the largest event in the history of the Palacio Bosch!
In the states, the Fourth of July is normally a time when we join our friends and family over barbeques and fireworks, parades and picnics to celebrate our freedoms as citizens of the United States. Independence Day is a time to reflect on how we have evolved as a nation – the challenges we have faced, the sacrifices we have made, and the opportunities that still lie ahead.
I would like to take a moment to recognize United States Senator Roy Blunt, his wife Abigail and their family. Senator Blunt has been touring Argentina for a few days and it is an honor to have him here with us tonight. It has been an incredible experience these last 5 months living in this dynamic capital and traveling to such amazing places as Bariloche, Iguazú, Mendoza, Cordoba, Salta and Mar del Plata.
In fact, it was in Mar del Plata that I attended my very first superclásico. First of three, actually! As many of you know, I’m a fanático de futbol. It’s true that I haven’t publicly declared which team I support, but I’ve also learned that in Argentina, it’s sometimes more dangerous to talk futbol than politics.
Speaking of great teams working together, I would like to take this opportunity to thank our wonderful sponsors. Without their generosity and support, this evening could not have been possible. We have nearly 500 U.S. companies that operate in Argentina and they are critically important to the economy here, creating Argentine jobs and providing innovative products. I’m also pleased that a number of Argentine firms that do business in the United States are supporting the event. They too, help create connectivity between our countries through important commercial ties.
I also want to thank our incredible Embassy staff, who are fully committed to building ever-closer relations with Argentina and have been working so hard on this event.
I specifically want to thank Kevin Sullivan, our great Deputy Chief at the Embassy; Abdel Perera, our event director this year; Nathan Austin; the entire Fourth of July Committee, the staff of the Palacio Bosch, and all of the volunteers who have worked so hard to make this event the incredible success it is tonight!
It’s a great honor for me to represent President Obama and the American people here in Argentina. I’m incredibly impressed with the people I meet each day, from political and business leaders throughout the country, to entrepreneurs working on exciting new tech projects in Cordoba, to students in Salta preparing for educational exchange programs in the U.S. These encounters have left me extremely optimistic about the future of Argentina and our bilateral relationship.
A lot has happened since last year’s July Fourth celebrations. We continue to expand ties between the United States and Argentina and I am proud of the work we have done to bring our countries closer together. That work includes signing four important bilateral agreements.
One of these agreements was between NASA and CONAE to study the effects of solar activity on life here on earth, as well as space weather (I’m actually not sure what that is, but I’m told that it is really important.) But increasing cooperation and connectivity extends beyond bilateral agreements between governments. It’s also about promoting people-to-people contact. It is through these connections that we discover how many similarities we have as people and as nations.
In today’s increasingly interconnected world, the United States wants and needs a strong democratic partner like Argentina to address global issues that know no boundaries. Together, we can work to reverse climate change, combat narco trafficking, increase security, provide peacekeeping, and prevent the spread of dangerous nuclear weapons around the world. The United States shares an incredible amount with Argentina: our fundamental values of democracy, human rights, and education; a vibrant and free press; an abundance of natural resources; and a history of immigration that creates strength in diversity.
So, there is perhaps no state that better exemplifies these values than my home state of California, which is our theme tonight. Yes, I’m biased, I know. The Golden State of California, as it is sometimes called, features some of the most respected universities in the world including the public University of California system, which is renowned for the quality education it provides. In fact, California has more international students than any other state in the country – as well as being home to more bilingual Spanish speakers than anywhere else.
Y voy a ser uno de ellos muy pronto!
Regarding education, I would love to see more Argentine students in our classrooms in California – and in other states as well – because I believe that education is the most important area for cooperation between our two countries in the long-term. There are about 4,500 U.S. students studying here in Argentina each year and about 2,000 Argentines who study in the United States. These numbers are good, but they’re not great. We must increase these numbers by working together.
We are taking the initiative to be the first U.S. Embassy in the world to create a “Friends of Fulbright” Scholarship program to raise additional funds from individuals and the private sector to send more Argentine students to study in the United States.
Besides education, another challenge we must address in order to create the better world we all hope for, is global climate change. California is home to a community of scientists, academics, and entrepreneurs who are working on amazing new solutions to this threat.
In recent years California has suffered consequences brought on by climate change, including devastating droughts and water shortages. One example showing that we live in a very small, interconnected world is that nearly 25% of pollution in my hometown of Los Angeles now comes from Asia, having been carried across the Pacific.
But these challenges are also opportunities. Opportunities to work together. Thanks to new legislation in California, solar and other renewable energy has recently become extremely affordable for the average person.
Like a growing number of my fellow Californians, I’ve installed solar panels on my own house! Experts predict that in the next 15 years, half of California’s energy will come from renewable sources. This is significant because it will completely change the way energy is produced. And I’m excited to announce that for the first time, we will soon have solar panels on our embassy here in Buenos Aires.
In addition to helping us tackle challenges such as climate change, new technology also has exciting implications for the field of medicine. Recently, I had the opportunity to meet an inspirational young Argentine named Gino Tubaro, who is with us here tonight.
A few years ago, Gino traveled to the United States on a short-term Department of State science program. Though he’s just 19 years old, Gino has already improved the quality of life of many people here in Argentina. He uses 3-D printing technology to create prosthetic hands – devices that traditionally are incredibly expensive. He’s here tonight showing his inventions and technology in the Education room. We’re very proud of Gino and want to promote more of this type of scientific collaboration. Gino, congratulations, mi amigo.
This year marks the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, landmark legislation that made the United States a more accessible and more inclusive country for people with disabilities, including my wonderful uncle Joe, who has been in a wheelchair for most of his life. I believe there is much more we can do to leverage technology, be entrepreneurial, and think creatively to solve problems while helping those around us.
Our two nations share a long and productive history and I see significant opportunities to build on our existing partnerships and create important new ones where the interests of our two countries clearly coincide. There is no doubt, the outlook for our relationship is extremely positive.
As I’ve said many times before, I want to increase connectivity between our two countries … and by the turnout tonight, I think we’re on the right track! I would like to wish you all a very happy Fourth of July and an early happy Argentine Independence Day. Please, have a drink… or two, have a bite to eat … or a meal, and enjoy the party! We’ll have music and dancing now in the huge Hollywood-themed tent out back. We have amazing dancers and many other surprises.
Enjoy – the night is young!
Sigamos trabajando juntos. Muchísimas gracias!