By the President of the United States of America
Our Nation's Hispanic heritage is celebrated with an especially deep sense of pride during this 500th anniversary year of Christopher Columbus' first journey to the Americas. Today we celebrate a rich, diverse heritage that traces back to places as far-flung as Mexico and Peru. The Columbus Quincentenary thus provides a fitting historical perspective as we set aside this month in honor of the many outstanding contributions that persons of Spanish and Latin American descent have made to the United States.
While our Nation's history bears ample evidence of our Hispanic heritage, we cannot view that great heritage solely in terms of the past. Rather, it is a living legacy. Over the years Hispanic Americans have continued to take part in the social and economic development of the United States and in the defense of the ideals that unite all of our citizens. In this century alone, thousands of Hispanic Americans have answered the call to duty in places such as Bataan, Da Nang, and the Persian Gulf. Today persons of Spanish and Latin American descent are also demonstrating their love of freedom by reaping the rewards of opportunity and hard work. In the past decade, the number of Hispanic-owned businesses has increased by more than 80 percent. As always, Hispanic Americans are also contributing to our Nation through its very foundation: the family. Together with the support of their churches and communities, millions of Hispanic American families are preserving the traditional values on which our great Republic rests: values of faith, duty, devotion to friends and relatives, and respect and concern for others. As the 20-million-strong Hispanic American community continues to grow, these and other contributions to our country are sure to increase as well.
Because many Hispanic Americans maintain strong personal ties to the nations of Latin America and the Caribbean, this month we also celebrate the United States' growing partnership with our neighbors in the region. The expansion of democratic ideals in this hemisphere has enhanced cooperation and security throughout the Americas, and U.S. exports to Latin American countries have more than tripled since 1983, creating thousands of jobs and opportunities for our citizens. Through the Enterprise for the Americas Initiative, the United States is working with our Latin American and Caribbean neighbors to promote mutually beneficial progress in the areas of trade and investment. The achievement of a North American Free Trade Agreement, which Hispanic American organizations across the country are helping accomplish, will mark a major milestone in our efforts to expand markets for U.S. goods and services. As Hispanic Americans well know, by creating in this hemisphere a thriving market of some 360,000,000 consumers, we will generate hundreds of thousands of new jobs and opportunities.
Just as they have contributed so much to our Nation in the past, Hispanic Americans are now helping to lead the United States toward a bright future -- one marked by opportunity and prosperity for every citizen here at home and by increasing cooperation and freedom throughout the hemisphere.
The Congress, by Joint Resolution approved September 17, 1968, as amended by Public Law 100-402, has authorized and requested the President to issue annually a proclamation designating the month beginning September 15 and ending October 15 as "National Hispanic Heritage Month."
Now, Therefore, I, George Bush, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim the month beginning September 15, 1992, and ending October 15, 1992, as National Hispanic Heritage Month. I invite all Americans to observe this month with appropriate programs and activities.
In Witness Whereof, I have hereunto set my hand this second day of September, in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and ninety-two, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and seventeenth.