DPSU's Thomas Letang
DPSU's Thomas Letang

Fellow Dominicans, it must be difficult for any nation to be excited celebrating 37 years of independence under the circumstances in which we find ourselves. However, in assessing our achievements or shortcomings as an independent nation our performance prior to Tropical Storm Erika will always be taken into consideration.

Infrastructural development, social services, human resource development, proper and environmentally friendly use and development of our natural resources, the independence and integrity of our public service and judiciary system, freedom of speech and association, adherence to democratic principles and good governance are all important issues to be evaluated when judging ourselves as a nation.

Tropical Storm Erika has shifted us to a new starting point. Like most, if not all misfortunes, Erika, in spite of its massive devastation has created certain opportunities and has given us apertures for reconciliation and unification for the common good.

The performance and conduct of our national leaders will be brought into focus. Such performance must of necessity go beyond the borders of partisanship. It must operate to bring about the level of reconciliation and unity which will propel us to the forefront of enhanced development.

Political party operatives who pretend to have our country's development at heart but who are dangerously divisive must stop their attacks and abuse. Every Dominican regardless of gender, ethnicity, educational background, skin colour and social status must be treated with respect and dignity and be appreciated for the good they can offer. Our population of 69,000 is just too small for the level of division which exists among us.

Our success will not only be measured by how many roads and bridges were rebuilt; how many houses were constructed; or how quickly the debris of landslides and flooding caused by Erika was cleared. Instead to a very large extent it will be decided by the level of responsible and credible leadership that was displayed as well as the extent to which our leaders would have lived by example.

Employers as well as employees must respect each other's rights. An employee can never be too productive, but the tools and the opportunities which should enable him to be so must always be made available. Employers, including Government must deal fairly and justly with employees and at all times respect labour laws and collective bargaining agreements. This is a good time to reflect on the Public Works Corporation issue. The victimization and oppression of our citizens will and can never be a good indication of democracy, national maturity and accomplishment. There will be greater national cohesiveness where there is reasonableness and justice.

As we focus on post Erika development and rebuilding activities and celebrate our independence, let us bear in mind that we can only achieve success if we rid ourselves of the many obstacles with which were had been burdened in the past. We must truly dedicate all our efforts to working together as one united people.

On behalf of the Executive Committee, General Membership and Staff I wish all Dominicans a happy independence celebration as we continue our individual contribution and commitment to nation building.