My Fellow Citizens and Residents: On behalf of the United Progressive Party, which I am privileged to lead, and the Redeem Team, whom I am honoured to captain, I wish you a Happy, Healthy, Prosperous and Productive 2023.
We have crossed over. We’ve lived to see another year dawn, with 365 days of opportunity and promise ahead of us. I pray that we do not squander them.
We are blessed, because there are many – too many – who began 2022 with us, but departed ahead of us. We miss them and mourn them, but we also give thanks for the time we had with them.
As this new year opens, it does so with both an air of tension and a sense of excitement….
Tension, because we who love this country are painfully aware of all that ails her at this time.
And excitement because soon, and very soon, we will have the opportunity to bind her wounds, to make her well again, to bring rescue, relief, recovery, and redemption to this Nation and all who dwell here.
Brothers and Sisters, I spoke to you less than two weeks ago , following the announcement of the General Election date. I took the time, then, to detail the failures and failings of the Gaston Browne Administration and the disappointment and suffering that we, the People, are undergoing as a result.
Nothing has happened since then to make the situation better, and some might even contend that – because of certain situations that have transpired – it has become worse.
I speak, of course, of the unfortunate circumstances that – because of mismanagement and poor communication by the Browne Administration – have pitted African brother and sister against Caribbean brother and sister in this small space.
It is regrettable that, more than 70 years after adult suffrage was granted, what should be a mature democracy appears to be under threat, as doubts about the integrity of our electoral process multiply.
Unequivocally, I condemn any and all efforts to undermine or manipulate the upcoming elections – whether the defacing of billboards or the attempts to add ineligible persons to the Voters List.
Let us, like grown men and women, go out there to win the hearts and minds of the electorate based on our record of accomplishments and credible plans for our people’s future – rather than resort to duplicity and corruption to gain an unfair and dishonest advantage.
In the meantime, I am encouraging you, as nationals, citizens and residents who have said to us – who have cried to us—that you need a change, not to be discouraged. Use all that is going on to inspire you — now, more than ever — to reach for that change; to keep your eyes on the prize that January 18th represents; to stretch for it; and, come what may, determine that you will NOT be denied.
All around us we see measures being taken to instill fear. But let us conquer fear with hope!
In 2018, hope was deferred. But in 2023, we have another opportunity to deliver it.
And, Brothers and Sisters, I can feel the feeling, the feeling of optimism rising. I can sense the mood of militancy growing. I have the conviction that change is on the way. That change is almost here.
Everywhere I turn, everywhere I look, beneath every word I hear the yearning for that change; that brighter sun; that better day that we know is possible for us as individuals, as families, communities, as a Nation.
We have been down too long , watching promise after promise unkept or, worse, being broken.
Our children have had too many hopes dashed too many times.
Our seniors have had their golden years tarnished far too often.
And our business people have been kept on the outside unfairly, seeing others reap where they have planted, weeded, and watered.
No wonder the cry for change is on the lips of so many…
But I also understand that, for some people, no matter how much they might be suffering, change is a frightening thing. “Better the devil you know than the one you do not,” they tell themselves.
Well, I can assure those of you who are afraid that, first of all, there are no devils over here. And, second, I can promise you that when that change is ushered in, it will be to the benefit of all. Every senior and every schoolchild; every national and every immigrant; every conclave and every community will feel that fresh breeze.
Because, with the United Progressive Party, a changed Antigua and Barbuda will be: a fairer Antigua and Barbuda, where kisses will go by merit and not by favour;
a cleaner Antigua and Barbuda, where both our local environment and our international reputation and image will sparkle once again;
a safer Antigua and Barbuda, because the gap between the haves and the have-nots will be bridged by diversified job opportunities that pay a living wage;
a healthier, better-educated Antigua and Barbuda in which the quality of life of our citizens and residents will be first, second and third priorities, because we offer ourselves for service and not self-enrichment; and
a kinder, gentler, more civil Antigua and Barbuda because we will be a Government that earns your respect and respects you – rather than insults, threatens, instills fear, or shoots you with tear-gas and rubber bullets.
With an election so early this year, we have the opportunity to turn the page decisively on the last eight years; to see 2023 as a fresh sheet on which to write the vision, to plot the route, and to chart the course for the future that our country deserves.
It allows us to put the new ideas; the driving energy; and the diversity of experience which is represented on our courageous Redeem Team to work for you, The People.
Throughout our two-year campaign, we have brought you innovation, outside-the-box thinking, solutions to challenges and, most important, ears and hearts that listen and respond.
As you can see and hear, ours is a slate that includes young, and younger Candidates, whose lives and the welfare of their own children and parents are tied up with yours. What affects you affects us, and so we are invested in, and committed to, the success of this Nation.
You have the opportunity now, as 2023 opens, to make the Right Choice – for yourselves, your families, your communities, and this country.
Early in 2022, when the war in Ukraine began, one of our members declared his admiration for the Ukrainian women who stoically packed up themselves and their children and selflessly exhorted their men to stay back; to stand; and to fight for their homeland.
Well, here in Antigua and Barbuda, our fight leaves no man or woman behind. We are all on the front-line together, fighting to claim what is left and reclaim what has been taken – our pride, our self-sufficiency, our opportunities, our land…
And I am gratified to see and hear, the coming-together of all forces: the born-yah, the immigrant, the Diaspora; the poor, the middle-class, and the well-off; the aspiring entrepreneur, the struggling small business, and the ambitious medium-sized enterprises; the English and the Spanish.
Let us be inspired by the colors and symbols of our National flag, where black and white unite, where red and blue can work together; and let the golden rays of the sun guide us to a brighter and better future.
Let 2023, starting on January 18th , begin the Decade of Change that Antigua and Barbuda needs and deserves and which the United Progressive Party and the Redeem Team stand ready to deliver.
May God continue to bless us and may He grant us the strength and the wisdom for the task ahead.
I am Harold Lovell, Political Leader of the United Progressive Party, and this is my New Year’s wish for the Nation and People of Antigua and Barbuda.