U.S. Independence Day celebrations: Ambassador Henry Jardine’s remarks


Bonsoir ek byen veni pour lafet lendepandans Leta Zini ici a lakaz Macarty.

Kathleen and I are delighted for you all to join us this evening as we celebrate the 4th of July, when Americans around the world commemorate the adoption of the Declaration of Independence and honor the great democratic experiment our nation embarked upon 247 years ago.  And thank you for joining us at the residence, the first time in three years we have hosted a July 4th event here.

First, I would like to take a moment to thank everyone who made this wonderful evening possible.  A tremendous thanks to our sponsors— Birger, BL Harbert, Ceridian, Coca-Cola Indian Ocean, Digiverse, Grays, Intercontinental Mauritius Resort, PicknEat (KFC), Phoenix Beverages, Prosafe, Quality Beverages, Rogers Group, Sotravic, and Think Recruitment, and a special thanks to the American Chamber of Commerce in Mauritius.  AmCham and its members represent the strength of the strong economic and commercial ties between the United States and Mauritius.  A special thanks to the artist Gaelle Gonzales, who helped shape our jazz exhibit throughout the tent, and the photo exhibit on our patio.  I would also like to thank our anthem singers Danielle Zelin and Clency Chamarandy, and the police force band.  Finally, this event would not be possible without the work of the Embassy staff, particularly our July 4th event coordination team.  Our facilities, general service teams, our security guards, public affairs team, and political/economic teams all contributed mightily to this effort.  Kathleen and I thank you all for your wonderful work.

For many Americans July 4th is a time for reflection.  The United States was founded on an idea that was revolutionary in the 18th century and, in many ways, remains revolutionary today.  Our Founders launched a democratic experiment that every generation for 247 years has sought to redeem and to fulfill —the building of “A More Perfect Union”— as expressed in the Preamble to the Constitution.  Certainly, the United States has had its challenges in striving toward this goal, and we continue to do so.  But despite our imperfections, the trajectory of our commitment to this ideal has been positive.

Which leads us to this evening’s theme, which, if you have had the chance to look around, is Jazz.

“Jazz,” the renowned American Jazz mission, Wynton Marsalis, once said, “is the perfect metaphor for democracy.”  At first, you may wonder how the seemingly unrelated subjects of jazz and democracy are connected.  But Jazz and democracy share a profound connection that speaks to the essence of human expression, freedom, and choice, and in many ways, those ideas are also reflected in our important partnership with Mauritius.  With its roots in African American culture, jazz emerged in the early 20th century as a rebellious and innovative musical genre.  And throughout that century, Jazz served as a vehicle for social change.  In the face of racial segregation and discrimination in the United States, Jazz became a powerful force of unity and resistance.  Musicians like Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, and Nina Simone used their music to challenge societal injustices and to advocate for equality.

At the heart of jazz is dialogue and improvisation, a hallmark of the genre that allows musicians to express themselves spontaneously.  In jazz, musicians engage in an ongoing musical conversation, taking turns to play, respond, and interact.  In Jazz, there is no predetermined path, and it is not linear.  The music evolves and transforms with every performance.  This spirit of dialogue and improvisation mirrors the essence of democracy, where citizens actively participate in communicating together to shape their society.  Progress and development may not always be straight.  It may zig and zag and may be messy.  But democracy and Jazz both ensure that a diversity of voices and views will be heard.

The common elements of jazz and democracy are also vibrant in our partnership with Mauritius.  Like the United States, Mauritius has sought to blend and to build on a range of distinctive cultures and to foster a tradition of democracy that allows for a diversity of voices.

  • We share the values of inclusivity, openness and tolerance. This commitment has also ensured that Mauritius is an example for democratic values and traditions in the African and Indian Ocean region.  The United States is workingwith partners in Mauritius’s private, public, non-governmental and non-profit sectors to promote bilateral and regional cooperation and inclusive policies to foster good governance, human rights, environmental stewardship, and equitable development.
  • We are also fortunate that with the advent of our new U.S. embassy, due to be completed in 2026, we will have a larger, more functional platform to advance U.S.-Mauritian relations, a space for a wider dialogue with Mauritian civil society, and which will serve as a tangible symbol of our commitment to Mauritius and the region. At a total project cost of approximately $300 million USD (Rs17 billion), the embassy will showcase the best of American architecture, engineering, and construction expertise.

As examples of our ongoing and future engagement with Mauritius:

  • Our U.S. law enforcement agencies, including the FBI and DEA, are working with Mauritius to combat illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing, as well as counter other illicit trafficking and smuggling.
  • We are supporting ongoing efforts by Mauritian NGOs to preserve coastal ecosystems, support sensitive marine conservation areas, and to conserve Mauritius’ marine biodiversity.
  • We continue to support the public health needs here, including through the donation of COVID-19 vaccines and working through organizations like the World Health Organization to support the health sector.
  • We also have active cultural and educational exchanges, facilitated both through the Embassy and local service clubs. Over 320 Mauritians are currently studying in the United States on full or partial scholarships.  In the last 10 years, the U.S. Embassy’s exchange programs have provided opportunities for nearly 700 participants to travel to the United States to develop business networks, meet counterparts, and learn best practices.
  • And finally, the United States is working with businesses, many represented here tonight, to reinforce the trade relationship with our two countries. According to the most recent figures (2021), Mauritius’s exports to the United States exceeded $250 million, making the United States the country’s fourth largest export market.

Ladies and gentlemen, as we celebrate the United States’ Independence this evening, we  recognize the challenges and improvisations of our of our democracy and history – again, much like that of jazz composition; and we can also reflect on how in the over a half century of that experience, we have been supported by our partnership with Mauritius; a partner also seeking to develop it’s democracy based on a foundation of  freedom, creativity, and diversity..

Thank you all again for joining us today as we celebrate our 247 years of Independence.

Mersi pour tou zot siport e mersi pour zot prezans tanto.