Dwight D. Eisenhower photo

Address Before a Joint Session of the National Congress of Argentina.

February 26, 1960

Mr. President, Honorable Members of Congress, ladies and gentlemen:

First, an expression of my warm gratitude for the cordiality with which you have received me in this hall. I cannot fail to mention what I have just seen in the streets of your beautiful city. I have seen crowds on those streets, I have seen the smiles on their faces, the flowers in their hands, and I have heard their shouts and cries of welcome. To me, this can mean one thing only: that the people of the Argentine, like the people of the United States, are proud that they are free men and they want to stand together as partners in our never-ceasing search for a just peace in which all men can prosper and better themselves, their families, their communities and their nations.

I am honored by this opportunity to address the Congress of the Argentine Republic. To you, and through you and to all your people, I bring friendly greetings from my government and my fellow citizens. I convey to you our unbounded admiration for the courageous efforts you are making under the inspiring leadership of President Frondizi to strengthen respect for human dignity and human rights, and to build institutions which will eternally guarantee the free exercise of those rights.

Though the people of the United States do not know your history, philosophy, and aspirations as well as they should--and this is a shortcoming which, despite distance and dissimilar language, simply must be overcome--nonetheless they are mindful of the extraordinary efforts you are making to restore your national economy. We hope and expect that the solid economic foundations you have been building will soon result in improved living standards.

I am happy that Argentina has created conditions which have made it possible for some of our credit agencies to extend to it a significant program of dollar credits. During the past few years, public and private lending agencies of the United States, and international financial institutions to which we contribute substantially, have joined in lending to Argentina approximately a billion dollars. This is the most intensive program of financial cooperation to have been yet carried out in the history of this hemisphere.

In a nation that is truly determined to develop, capital is one essential instrument of production. If there is a shortage of capital, production and living standards suffer simultaneously. But new capital, if accompanied by other instruments of production, including technical proficiency--in this case provided by Argentina itself--quickly translates into more production, more and better-paid jobs, and higher living standards. Everybody gains in the process.

We of the United States are highly gratified that we have been able to be of some assistance in your march toward a better life.

In words so candid and clear that no one in all the Americas can possibly misunderstand me, I wish to emphasize again our deep desire:

First, to see every one of the American Nations make steady economic progress, with the blessings of this advance reaching all of its people;

Second, to cooperate in every sound way we can, within the limits of our ability, in helping the American Nations attain their just aspirations-we also wish to persuade them and others to join in a world-wide effort to help the less developed nations to progress in freedom;

Third, while adhering strictly to a policy of non-intervention and mutual respect, to applaud the triumph of free government everywhere in the world. We do not urge emulation of the United States, but we do know that human beings, sacred in the sight of God, and more majestic than any institutions they may create, will in the long sweep of history never be content with any form of slavery or coercion;

Fourth, to bring ever closer the realization of a world in which peace with freedom is guaranteed, and in which the mighty productive power of man can work constructively for the betterment of all humankind.

As perhaps you know, I have recently traveled in Europe, the Middle East, and India. I am now at the half-way point in this all-too-brief trip through South America. In June I shall go to the Soviet Union and Japan. When those journeys have been completed, I shall have visited many countries, large and small; industrial and agricultural communities; highly developed nations and some newly emerging. In all these travels I have had one paramount interest: to. assure everybody of my Nation's peaceful intent and to do what I can to promote the cooperation of all in the cause of peace and freedom.

I have emphasized that we seek peace, but only in freedom. If peoples were willing to give up their liberty and their personal dignity, they could readily have peace--a peace in which a single great power controlled all other nations.

Genghis Khan, Tamerlane, Alexander the Great, Napoleon, Hitler, and others sought to establish that kind of peace. But always peoples and nations have rebelled against their false, self-serving doctrines. We do not want an imposed peace. We want a cooperative peace in which the peoples of every nation have the right of free choice--the right to establish their own institutions, to live by their own cardinal concepts, and to be free of external pressure or threat.

These are deep-seated desires held passionately in common by the peoples of the United States and Argentina. We hope to see machines capable of destruction turned exclusively to constructive purposes.

These shared aspirations spring from a common heritage:

Both our countries won their independence from European powers. The drafters of our Declaration of Independence proclaimed that "all men are created equal, endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, among them life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." In Argentina, Esteban Echeverria said: "Equality and liberty are . . . the two poles of . . . Democracy . . ." In the United States, Abraham Lincoln described democratic government as "of the people, by the people, and for the people." In Argentina, Juan Alberdi declared: "Public freedom is no more than the sum . . . of the freedoms of all." The Constitution of the United States carefully separated the legislative, executive, and judicial branches of our government. In Argentina, the great liberator, Jose' de San Martin, stated: "Displaying the most excellent principles matters not at all, when he who makes the law, he who carries it out, is also he who judges it."

Your founding fathers and ours acted upon the same great hopes and expressed--almost identically--the same wisdom. This is of course not surprising: the vision of true freedom cannot be dimmed by a barrier of language or distance.

It was once possible to think of democratic freedom as a matter of purely national concern. But now, in a world of exacting interdependence, freedom must be fostered, developed, and maintained cooperatively among many nations. Hence, across national boundaries, among peoples and governments, a constant increase in mutual understanding must prevail. Based on that understanding, political, cultural, and economic cooperation will succeed, with benefits for all.

Unhappily, until the last threat of force has been suppressed, there must also be military cooperation, for no single nation, no matter how mighty, can alone protect the freedom of all. Together, however, the nations which cherish independence can command a power so great that no potential aggressor could violate the peace without inviting his own destruction.

Can the ugly external threat which faces us impose such physical strains upon us as to impair or destroy our heritage? With confidence our two nations emphatically and jointly say "No." I have heard some say that the more a country develops its technology and science, the more "materialistic" it becomes and the less it possesses or cherishes the cultural aspects of life. But of course science, technology, and richness of culture must, and do, march forward hand in hand.

Surely scientific advances that make possible the conquering of human disease; that remove drudgery from the household; that yield shorter working hours with leisure for the arts and recreation--surely these are not inimical to the fulfillment of man's spiritual aspirations.

No single technological development in all history did more to advance the cultures of the world than the invention of the printing press. Modern technological miracles have speeded communications to the point that an event in a remote part of Africa is known minutes later in Buenos Aires. They have enabled us to move from one part of the world to any other in a matter of hours.

With these so-called "materialistic" advances, we have the means of obtaining accurate information, and more knowledge, faster. These accomplishments are helpful in developing that genuine human understanding on which all other cooperative actions among peace-longing nations can be based.

I have watched, with much satisfaction, the increasing amount of news published in each of our countries about the other--and the increasing number of books translated from each of our languages into the other's. I have observed, too, the growing numbers of our teachers, students, businessmen, labor leaders, and others who are exchanging visits between us.

My country was recently honored by the visit of a number of distinguished members of this Congress, who traveled extensively in the United States and conferred with their fellow legislators and other American citizens. Also, legislators from the United States have visited Argentina on numerous occasions. I can think of nothing more useful to our relations than such exchanges.

But it is not possible for everyone to travel great distances. So our schools and universities, the press, books, philosophic societies, study groups, and government--all these must work ceaselessly to promote better understanding between us, as well as among all the Americas. And there must be interchanges to the maximum degree possible--of ideas, of persons, of techniques. I hold the unshakeable conviction that the greatest single impediment to abiding, mutually-helpful cooperation among nations desiring peace with freedom is not opposing policies, or different aspirations, or insoluble conflicts--serious as these sometimes are. No, the most persistent, single impediment to healthy, effective cooperation is the lack of deep and abiding understanding, and the trust that flows from understanding. Here, then, in this effort to increase mutual understanding among all nations, is the basic problem. It is one that every citizen, in your country and mine, can help to solve. Overcoming it will build the surest foundation for the kind of cooperative progress and the just peace we all seek.

Again, I convey to you the admiration of the people of the United States for the courage and determination with which Argentina is facing its problems. We wish you every success. I am also happy to assure you of the continued readiness of my government to cooperate with you to the extent that such cooperation is feasible, is welcomed, and may contribute to the well-being of your great country.

I thank you for the privilege of addressing you, the elected representatives of the Argentine people.

Note: The President spoke at approximately 5 p.m. His opening words "Mr. President" referred to Senator Jose' Maria Guido, Provisional President of the Argentine Senate.

Dwight D. Eisenhower, Address Before a Joint Session of the National Congress of Argentina. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/235108

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