FSM President: ‘Christmas is a time of reflection on who we are’

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FSM President David Panuelo (still image from a video posted by the Office of the FSM President)

Holiday Wishes for a Joyous & Blessed Christmas & a Prosperous New Year; President Panuelo’s 2020 Christmas Message

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My dear fellow citizens of Micronesia,

Christmas is a season of being the very best of ourselves, a season where we demonstrate that our fundamental purpose in life is of learning, and teaching, love and respect for one another. Christmas is a time of reflection on who we are and what we value, a time where our greatest strength—unity—is exemplified across our four stars shining on the seas, as reflected on the flag of our great Nation, the Federated States of Micronesia.

The name and identity embedded in the term “Micronesian” belong to you all, a birthright that cannot be taken away by any man or institution of men. In our 41 years of Constitutional Government and 34 years of Independence, we’ve faced many challenges across the spectrum—but so too have we endured, and we will continue to endure, as we work together to build our communal vision of peace, unity, and liberty.

As Micronesians, we have much to be grateful for. Our islands are peaceful and democratic. We are richly endowed in the good things from this Earth, in the love of our families, and in the fellowship of our neighbors. It is a blessing to be of this country, and it is a blessing for me to have the honor to serve you as your President.

2020 has seen monumental challenges, as well as extraordinary developments, for our Nation, from the arrival of the COVID-19 Pandemic to our ongoing negotiations with the United States of America on the expiring provisions of our Compact of Free Association. We have banned most forms of plastic, and instituted a spectrum of social protection programming to ensure we weather this storm safely together. We have called on the United States to rejoin the Paris Agreement, and U.S. President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. has promised to rejoin it on his first day in office.

Just as 2020 brought forth incredible adversity, the year concludes with good news pouring like rain from a lucky day. Later this week, the first COVID-19 vaccines will arrive in our Nation, to first be given to our frontline responders. The vaccine is safe, and to demonstrate my confidence in the safety of the vaccine I will make a video of me receiving it in the coming weeks. It is our Government’s goal that we will achieve a 100% vaccination rate across this Paradise in Our Backyards. There will be enough vaccine for everyone.

Other good news includes that the United States Congress has extended a second stimulus package, which affects FSM citizens in two unique and important ways. The first is that the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Program has been extended to March 14th, 2021, so FSM citizens residing in the FSM will still continue to receive financial assistance in this form. The second is that the FSM citizens residing in the United States and its territories once again have access to Medicaid, the U.S. Government health program for families and individuals with low-incomes.

While there are many who are responsible for advocating and pushing for the restoration of Medicaid coverage to FSM citizens, among the most pronounced supporters were Senator Ron Wyden from the State of Oregon, and the U.S. Congressional delegation from the State of Hawaii, namely Senator Mazie Hirono, Senator Brian Schatz, and Representative Ed Case. Senator Wyden, Senator Hirono, Senator Schatz, and Representative Case: on behalf of the People and Government of the Federated States of Micronesia, thank you for your assistance in restoring Medicaid coverage to our citizens in the United States.

The FSM National Government is committed to navigating our Nation to prosperity, but we never do it alone. We continue to strengthen our partnerships with other development partners, such as Japan—with whom we share a Kizuna or special bond—and with China, with whom we share a Great Friendship. We look forward to reciprocating Australia’s friendship by establishing an Embassy in Canberra and enhancing our collaboration with NGOs such as Hawaii Green Growth, Okeanos for the Sea Foundation, Waitt Foundation & Blue Prosperity Micronesia, World Bank, Asia Development Bank, and more.

But, for now, as our families and communities celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior on the eve of this blessed and important Christmas day, let us be thankful for one another, thankful for our families, and thankful for who we are as Micronesians.

From myself, Vice President George, and our families and staff, we wish each and every one of you, our dear citizens of the FSM, family, friends at home and abroad, a very joyous and blessed Christmas and a prosperous New Year.

David W. Panuelo

President of the Federated States of Micronesia