US Embassy Holds 4th of July Party (And You're Not Supposed To Know About It)
Friday, July 06 2012 @ 11:13 AM EDT
Contributed by: Don Winner
Thank you for celebrating with us such an important date.
In the United States, the fourth of July is a day of baseball and barbecues, of family, friends, and fireworks—it is a great celebration that binds us together as a country, even in times of conflict, political discord or economical distress. It’s a day to remember our common history. It’s a day that reaffirms the values of liberty, equality, democracy and self-determination that have sustained us as a people in days past and will continue to guide us in days ahead.
Today, in Panama, we celebrate another common history. The people of the United States and the people of Panama share a legacy that goes back to the days of Panama’s independence. I have been humbled by the warmth and kindness shown to me and my wife since our arrival to Panama, evidence of the strong bonds of friendship and brotherhood between our two countries.
Terry and I recently came back from a trip to a city with a great revolutionary history, Philadelphia, which we visited for the baptism of our first grandchild. In addition to being the birthplace of our grandson, Philadelphia can also be considered as the birthplace of the United States. It is home to the Independence Hall, where the Declaration of Independence was signed. Philadelphia was the long-time home of Benjamin Franklin, one of the Founding Fathers whose signature appears on that historic document. He was one of America’s first diplomats, dispatched to France in 1778.
It fills me with pride to, in some small way, follow in the footsteps of luminaries like Franklin, doing the work of keeping our friendships strong and our families safe. I recall the words of Benjamin Franklin, in a letter from his post in Paris: ‘Where liberty dwells, there is my country.’
This holiday has a special significance for those Americans who are living abroad or serving our country overseas. I know that on this day, in representing the United States and celebrating with all of you our shared values of liberty, democracy and freedom, I will never be far from home.
To my fellow Americans, and to our Panamanian friends, and to everyone, thank you for joining us---and happy Fourth of July.
Editor's Comment: Last year the US Embassy invited 1,000 people to attend the 4th of July party at the US Ambassador's residence. The attendees were mostly Panamanians. Practically no Americans attended the party, apart from US Embassy staff. They apparently followed the exact same plan this year except the guest list was trimmed down to about 650 total. And, the spouses of the Embassy staff were generally not invited either. All of the prominent Panamanian politicians were there. So it was all Panamanians, US Embassy staff, and almost no "outsiders" from the community of American expatriates who live in the Republic of Panama.
There was practically no press coverage either. The US Embassy press office only invited what they call "social" media - like the Panamanian magazine "Mundo Social" for example - to cover this event. They use this as an excuse to not invite any "real" journalists. There was no coverage in the Panamanian media in any newspaper, television station, or radio. That's the way they wanted it, and that's what they got. A virtual press black-out, created by simply not inviting any journalists. They don't want any coverage, at all.
It's a damn shame, really. After they pulled the same stunt last year I ran a poll on this website asking the question: Should the US Embassy increase their efforts to inform the English speaking community of expats in Panama?. A whopping 91% of respondents said yes, they should.
In fact I thought there was the possibility of seeing some sort of a change in policy with the arrival of the new US Ambassador Farrar. How is it possible that the US Embassy in Panama holds a 4th of July party at the US Ambassador's residence - with 650 people on the guest list - and only about six (as far as I can tell) of those present came from the community of 50,000 Americans who reside in the Republic of Panama - not counting US Embassy employees of course. And not only were you not invited, you practically were not even supposed to know it happened. I hope Balbina Herrera enjoyed her hot dog... And for the Press Office of the US Embassy - don't worry, I fixed the typos in the Ambassador's remarks before publishing them. Way to go, guys.