Buenas Tardes. I am delighted to be here on behalf of the United States to celebrate your recent election and the inauguration of President Lasso.
This is an important occasion. And I’m not just saying that because it’s the first time I have traveled outside the United States in more than 14 months. Free and fair elections are the cornerstone of a democratic society like Ecuador. They set a positive example for other democracies in the region, and are the ultimate expression of the fundamental values that the people of the United States and Ecuador share. But of course, we share more than values. We share enduring cultural exchange, democratic* engagement, and security cooperation.
In these tough times, we also share great challenges – like the need to defeat COVID-19, recover from economic setbacks, and climate change. And we share tremendous opportunities, from economic partnerships and business development, to protecting human rights, to expanding education. This is why President Biden sent his very first Presidential Delegation here to Ecuador. I hope that sends a powerful message about how much we value the relationship between our two countries, the importance of our hemisphere, our shared belief in democracy, and our commitment to working together to address the challenges and the opportunities before us.
I look forward to having an opportunity to congratulate President Lasso in person at his inauguration tomorrow. And I want to thank you all very much for this warm welcome to Ecuador.
Thank you very much.