Remarks by the President at Arrival Ceremony

Office of the Press Secretary
(Caracas, Venezuela)

For Immediate Release October 12, 1997


La Carlotta Air Base
Caracas, Venezuela

3:10 P.M. (L)

PRESIDENT CALDERA: Mr. President of the United States of America, Mrs. Clinton: It is a very pleasurable duty for me to greet you today on behalf of the government and the people of Venezuela, and to express to you and your wife our most cordial and warm greetings.

You come representing people that is our friend. We are both united by geographical and historical links. But we are linked as well by the requirements of our two nations. As the President of the most important country of the world, we know that your coming here today will put Caracas in the eyes of all the observers on this Earth and will have analysts study the significance of your coming here. We know that your visit here today is really -- has been an incentive for us to prepare the signature of many agreements and also to prepare a declaration of intention of other agreements, the intention of which is shared, but the details of which have yet to be finalized.

So we know that you come as a contribution -- we know that we are linked with you with a solid friendship. We know that we both have a solid commitment to our people. We know we both have a commitment in the fight for liberty, a commitment for democracy which must be reenforced in all nations of the globe as is stated in the Preamble of the Venezuelan Constitution.

We know you come here -- we both have a commitment for peace, which is so necessary. We know we have a commitment, a joint commitment, against corruption, against delinquency, against drug trafficking that threatens the values of our youth. We know we share a commitment for the same values and also for a

fight against poverty, which undermines the faith for the future of so many people. But besides all this, and above all this, we know that we share a commitment for a clear, crystalline liberty.

We know you, Mr. President, are very much committed towards globalization and want the United States to play this role, so that globalization will mean the improvement of the lot of all, and not sometimes the worsening of conditions for some. We know that this is your very special commitment and we Venezuelans share it.

So let me now say, Mr. President, Mrs. Clinton, welcome to Venezuela. Welcome to the land of Bolivar. Welcome to South America. (Applause.)

PRESIDENT CLINTON: President and Mrs. Caldera, ladies and gentlemen, on behalf of the entire American delegation and all the American people, let me first say, saludos, amigos. It is good to be in Venezuela.

When the first explorers came to the Americas centuries ago, there was no distinction in their minds between North and South America -- it was simply the new world. Now we have an opportunity to bring the Americas together again. A land united by shared values from Alaska to Patagonia. A place the rest of the world can look to and say, this is where the future lives.

Indeed, we are present at the future. Every country but one in our hemisphere is now a democracy. Command economies have given way to free markets and the more widespread prosperity they bring. We tear down trade barriers and create good jobs for all our people in the Americas, North and South.

Even as our governments are devoted to free markets and enterprise, we assume the necessary responsibility for meeting their challenges -- to educate our children, to protect their health and the environment, to defend their liberty and human rights. If we stay this course, in the 21st century the Americas can be a stronghold for security and prosperity; a model to the world that democracy, open markets and cooperation can deliver blessings to all our people.

Venezuela has been a driving force in this quiet revolution. Your democracy is strong after weathering difficult challenges. Your economy is growing in the wake of real sacrifice. The strength you find in Venezuela's diversity is indeed an inspiration to every nation in our hemisphere.

The United States is proud of its partnership with Venezuela, proud that we share a fundamental optimism about the future and a common resolve to work toward securing the benefits of peace and prosperity. From an abiding faith in democracy to a willingness to fight crime and corruption, from energy development to environmental protection, from music to baseball, we are united by our concerns and by our passions.

Thirty-six years ago, John Kennedy became the first American President to visit Venezuela. And speaking to the people here, he cited his predecessor, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and

his earlier efforts to promote friendship between the nations of this hemisphere -- and I quote -- "united by nature and united in their common aspirations." Today, I proudly follow in the footsteps of both men, committed to sustain their impulse to reach across borders and learn from our friends and neighbors, for our mutual benefit.

As we stand on the edge of a new century in a new millennium, we are very much like the first explorers who came here centuries ago -- we can see a new world in the making. That is our chance and our responsibility. Let us seize it together.

Thank you. (Applause.)

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