Her Excellency, Ms. Ana Teresita Gonzalez Fraga, Vice-Minister of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Cuba;
The Honorable Dean of the Diplomatic Corps, His Excellency Ambassador Dexter Rose;
Your Excellencies of the Diplomatic Corps;
Distinguished Representatives of International Organizations based in the Republic of Cuba;
High Ranking Members of the MINREX, MINCEX, and MINSAP of the Republic of Cuba;
Distinguished Officials of ICAP, the Chamber of Commerce, ELAM, and ISRI;
Distinguished friends of the Communist Party of Cuba;
Other Distinguished Officials of the Republic of Cuba;
Special Invitees and Friends:

I would like to express my deepest gratitude and appreciation to all of you for your presence tonight as we gather here to observe fifty years of our National Independence.
Today, with great pride and dignity we re-affirm the unbreakable ties of friendship and brotherhood that we share with the Government and People of the Republic of Cuba. I am absolutely confident that the relationship that we currently enjoy will reach greater heights as we resolutely pursue our common interests in a framework of mutual respect, understanding and goodwill.
Fifty years ago to this date, the nation-state of Guyana came into being. Four years later, it was to become the Cooperative Republic of Guyana. The many decades of struggle by our people for national independence had culminated into statehood. It was a proud moment when the Founder of our Independence, the then Prime Minister, His Excellency Mr. LFS Burnham, Leader of the People’s National Congress, embraced joyfully and publicly his friend and peer, Dr. Cheddi Jagan, then Leader of the People’s Progressive Party.
Some seven years earlier, the triumphant Cuban Revolution, led by the indomitable and indefatigable Fidel Castro Ruz, proclaimed a new Independence for Cuba. This was the commencement of a novel era of political development in the Caribbean and Latin America - and it conveyed a positive influence far and wide beyond the geographical borders of Jose Marti’s Fatherland. In this context, it would be remiss of me not to acknowledge this historicalevent in Cuba because the struggles for our own national independence were greatly inspired by the struggles of the Cuban people.
But Independence came to us in painful circumstances.The new nation-state, breaking forth from the shackles of colonialism, was born in the dark night of disunity and despair, separateness and sadness. It was a fragmented society then, rent asunder by ethnic cleavage and external manipulation. The immediate and urgent task, therefore, was to heal the national wounds, create a climate of trust and confidence, prepare and implement a plan of social and economic development, and instill national pride and national dignity within the embryonic State. Indeed, these were the foundational premises of building our nation and moulding our destiny.
“Colonial society was elitist and exclusionary,“ as His Excellency Brigadier David Granger, distinguished historian and the recently elected President of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana, described pre-independence Guyana. But national “Independence broke those barriers down. It provided recognition of our rights, greater rewards for our endeavors, and deeper respect for our people.” He went on to point out that Independence was a necessity and “Guyana was able to make rapid progress and substantial advances in the immediate post-Independence years.”
In historical terms, fifty years is but a relatively short period. But the first fifty years of statehood in Guyana have seen development in its broadest sense. We have constructed important national institutions which are guiding social and economic progress; we have built the foundations of an infrastructural program which is integrating our hinterland with our coastland; we have strengthened our foreign policy architecture aimed at promoting peace, security and development; andwe are creating a Green Economy which harmonizes with our strategy“to contribute to both a sustainable future and to an effective global response to climate change.”
The Cuban poet, not so long ago, reminded us that “to gain a deeper view of the horizon, we leap upon the old wall of the past.” The next fifty years of Independence will require the wisdom inherent in that maxim. And so President David Granger has designated 2016 as Year of the Renaissance. In the context of social cohesion and political inclusivity, the Government of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana would be striving assiduously to eliminate extreme poverty; eradicate the worst forms of inequality, particularly gender inequality; ensure equal access to education; and, among other things, enforce employment and anti-discrimination laws in order to guarantee the good health, happiness and security of all of our working people, women and our youth.
As we pursue those programs, goals and strategies, our historical bonds of friendship with the Republic of Cuba, forged in the crucible of fire some forty four years ago, remain profound and powerful.In those years when stronger nations feared to take the courageous step of becoming a friend of Commandante Fidel and Cuba, His Excellency, President LFS Burnham dared to thread that path with firmness and resoluteness, which were the hallmarks of his political character and career.
Today, the Government of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana, led by His Excellency Brigadier David Granger, intends to deepen and widen Guyana-Cuba bilateral relations.In a short while, he himself will be in Havana to participate in the upcoming Seventh Summit of the Association of Caribbean States. And he will express those sentiments at the appropriate levels of the Cuban Government.
Fifty years ago when we achieved Independence, our future seemed dark; it is now luminous. Fifty years ago, national unity appeared elusive; it is now real. Fifty years ago, political inclusivity was impossible; now it isan imminent goal. And so, as our country marches forward under the leadership of His Excellency Brigadier David Granger, President of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana, and, indeed, as welook to the future we recognize, in a mature and intelligent way, that we yet have a stronger nation to build, a destiny to mould.

Long live the friendship between the Cooperative Republic of Guyana and the Republic of Cuba!