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John F. Kennedy: Address by the President at a Luncheon Given in His Honor by President Lopez Matcos.
John F. Kennedy
264 - Address by the President at a Luncheon Given in His Honor by President Lopez Matcos.
June 29, 1962
Public Papers of the Presidents
John F. Kennedy<br>1962
John F. Kennedy

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Mr. President, Senora, members of the Government, saludos amigos:

It is with great pleasure and high regard that I have crossed the peaceful border which separates our two nations. For Mexico and the United States share more than a common frontier. We share a common heritage of revolution, a common dedication to liberty, a common determination to preserve in these great days the blessings of freedom and to extend its fruits to all.

While geography has made us neighbors, tradition has made us friends. Economics has made us partners. And necessity has made us allies--in a vast Alianza para el Progreso. Those whom nature has so joined together, let no man put asunder.

Two great and independent nations, united by hope instead of fear, are bound to have matters on which we must consult together, and we are equally bound to discuss them in a frank and friendly manner, to agree where we can agree, to respect each others' views where we disagree. As tenants of the same great continent, we cannot meet our mutual needs in disarray, but working together we can face the future with confidence for there is much to be done in that future.
We in the United States are committed to a better life for our people, for no nation can seek social justice abroad that does not practice it at home. But now, in addition, the United States of America is committed to help fulfill these goals throughout the Americas, to work together with Mexico and all the other nations of the inter-American system, to create a society in which all men have equal access to land, to jobs, and to education - a society in which no man is exploited for the enrichment of a few, and in which every arm of the Government is dedicated to the welfare of all the people.

This effort is not a one-way street. We in the United States have much to learn, as well as something to teach. There are commodities we must buy as well as sell. There are national burdens to be shared, as well as individual burdens to be lifted. Where obstacles to understanding are existing, they must be shattered on both sides. And so, my friends, I come to speak, as your President said, of what we can do together.

Your President and I, your people and mine, are united in our ideals and aspirations for this hemisphere. Together we shall work and together we shall succeed.

Permit me now to remind you of a few of these common aspirations. First, we are determined to reinforce the inter-American principle of absolute respect for the sovereignty and independence of every nation. That principle was at the heart of the Good Neighbor Policy, and we remain good neighbors today. That principle is the foundation of our Alliance, and we shall always be allies for progress. We recognize the right of every nation to order its own affairs, to formulate its own policies, to decide upon its own actions, subject only to the obligations of international law and the rights of other nations. And all nations who seek forcibly or by subversion to impose their will on any American country will find the free nations of this hemisphere, I am sure, united and determined to preserve the independence of all.

Secondly, we are dedicated to the ideal of a peaceful and free hemisphere, of free and equal nations. "Democracy," said Benito Juarez, "is the destiny of humanity; freedom its indestructible arm."

This was the destiny of the American Revolution and it is the destiny of the Mexican Revolution; and this destiny will not be achieved in full until the entire Western Hemisphere is a community of free democratic nations, committed to the individual freedom of all their citizens.

Third, we arc devoted to the increasing social justice of all. National independence, the fact of political freedom, means very little to the man who is not yet independent of poverty and illiteracy and disease. New factories and machinery mean little to the family without a home, to the student without a meal, to the farmer who even gives up hope of finally owning the land that he tills. If you and I, Mexico and the United States, and our two great nations believe in peaceful revolution--if we believe as we do that social justice can be achieved without the sacrifice of freedom or progress, indeed that economic progress is the handmaiden of political freedom, then we have ample opportunity in this hemisphere to carry out those convictions to implement those promises.

But it will not be easy, for if it were easy, it would have been done long ago. Ending the outmoded systems of land tenure, reforming unjust systems of taxation, expanding the opportunities for better housing and better health and better education, where no such opportunities existed before--all this will not be easy. But the Mexican revolution has helped to show what could be done--that the path of freedom is the path of progress. In the almost 20 years since Franklin Roosevelt came to Monterrey, your supply of goods and services has tripled, your per capita income has increased nearly 80 percent. You have become virtually self-sustaining in agriculture, and you have maintained the most consistent and impressive rate of growth of any nation in this hemisphere. These are, I realize, only statistics, but behind those statistics, I know, hope has replaced despair, and opportunity, misery. And while, as your President, Lopez Mateos, said, your revolution is far from completed in your own nation, just as our goals have not been achieved in our own country; yet we must now work together, your country and mine, to help bring such hope and opportunity to all the Americas.

There will be delays and setbacks and frustrations. We cannot double the number of classrooms, double the rate of literacy, reduce by three-fourths the rate of infant 'mortality, and increase by 50 percent the average life expectancy in the matter of months or even in a few years. But we can in a decade. While the price agreements are difficult to work out, power and transportation systems are a long time building, and basic internal reforms in many countries are certain to be resisted, but now I believe that this hemisphere has a common plan and knows where it is going, and we are on the way, and we have chosen to do it through the democratic road.

We do not seek to change or direct any nation's political or economic system, but we do seek to assist the Latin American nations to make fundamental changes in the life of the peoples of Latin America, and thereby to change the course of human history. If we can pursue this course with unyielding determination, the unyielding determination that you have shown in this country, we shall surely prevail in the end.

A century ago, President Abraham Lincoln instructed his Secretary of State to tell the people of Mexico of his "respect for the . . . heroism of her people and, above all, their inextinguishable love of civil liberty."

Today, 100 years later, that deep respect remains in the hearts of the people and the President of the United States. Our two nations have been blessed with the same blessings of liberty. We now dream the same dream of opportunity in the future. And our two continuing revolutions have now been joined as one, one great effort, one great continent, in one great Alianza para el Progreso.
Viva Mexico!

Note: The President spoke at 2 p.m. in the National Palace in Mexico City.
Citation: John F. Kennedy: "Address by the President at a Luncheon Given in His Honor by President Lopez Matcos.," June 29, 1962. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project. http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=8741.
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