By Ivan Cairo
PARAMARIBO, Suriname – Hundreds of thousands of revelers, including locals and visitors, celebrated Suriname’s 35th Independence Anniversary on Thursday.
Among the main attractions were an air show by Brazil’s internationally renowned Smoke Squadron and parachute jumping. Jerry Rawlings, former president of Ghana and long-time friend of Suriname’s president Desi Bouterse, was the honorary guest during the festivities.
In his address during a special session of parliament, Bouterse urged the Surinamese people not to look to the former colonial powers and the past with “resentment and bitterness”.
“The new policies, which we are executing now, should keep Suriname from looking back at the sources of our decline and getting influenced by them,” said the head of state.
“It doesn’t matter what our colonial powers have done to us; we are going into the wide world to claim our rightful position,” Bouterse added.
The president noted that Surinamese should love one another regarding one’s political affiliation, adding that political differences will never vanish. He maintained that a united people however would be able to build a stronger nation and economy.
During a reception for diplomats and VIPs several hours later, Bouterse recalled that the message of then prime minister Henck Arron in 1975 is still relevant today. On the eve of Suriname’s independence on November 24, 1975, Arron urged the Surinamese people “not to live against each other, but to live for each other”.
The president further disclosed that his administration will strengthen ties with China and India and will take bilateral relations with these countries to “the next level”. Regarding the USA and Canada, Bouterse said that relations with these two nations are being studied in order to bring a proper balance into Suriname’s diplomatic framework.
The head of state further called on multinationals that are already doing business in Suriname and those which are willing to invest in the country to get more involved in Suriname’s development efforts.
He also stressed that his administration in its regional integration policies will focus mainly on strengthening ties with Brazil, Guyana, French Guiana, and the regional bodies UNASUR and CARICOM.
According to Bouterse, Suriname is committed to play a more active role in addressing global issues such as the ill effects of drug trafficking, the scourge of HIV/AIDS, illegal arms trade and climate change.