Dwight D. Eisenhower photo

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

March 01, 1960

Mr. President of the Senate, Mr. President of the Chamber, Members of the Congress of Chile:

It is a high honor indeed and a personal privilege for me to address the elected representatives of the free people of the Republic of Chile.

In this year--the 150th anniversary of the first movement toward independence by Chilean patriots--I bring to you and your people the warm greetings and congratulations of my countrymen.

We Americans glow with pride when we recall the early links between our two countries--when you were seeking your independence and our own was scarcely a generation old. It was not just coincidence, I 'suspect, that your first Congress was inaugurated on the fourth of July. That was in 1811, the 35th anniversary of our own Declaration of Independence. Later, in 1812, the first draft of your provisional Constitution was written in the home of Joel Poinsett, United States Consular representative to Chile. In the battle which helped bring final victory, one of my countrymen was the Chief of Staff of Lord Cochrane.

These early associations helped forge lasting bonds of friendship. Their firm base is a shared philosophy--faith in God, respect for the spiritual dignity of man, and the conviction that government must be the servant of the people.

During the past twenty-four hours I have had friendly and helpful discussions with your distinguished President. I have gained new insight into your problems and the efforts you are making to achieve economic stability and growth which will mean a better life for all your people.

We all know that in today's inter-dependent world no nation can live unto itself, or be immune to developments in other lands.

We in the Western Hemisphere are still young nations, still growing, still experimenting.

How much easier would be the tasks of our own internal development and of helping nations sustain liberty, if the awesome threat of conflict and coercion could be eliminated from the minds and affairs of men.

The quest for peace is the imperative of our time. War has become preposterous. And maintaining armaments is consuming resources which, if constructively used, could bring forth a new era of benefit for all mankind.

As you know, I recently visited a number of the nations of Europe, the Middle East, South Asia and Africa. There I had an opportunity to convey to millions the wish dearest to the hearts of my own countrymen; a world of free men living in peace and friendship.

Soon, with my colleagues in Great Britain and France, I will meet with the Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the Soviet Union. It is in part to prepare for this meeting that I have sought the opportunity to confer with the leaders of some of the Latin American nations. All of us hope fervently that out of this and subsequent international meetings may come understandings which will permit at least a partial relaxation of tensions and a modest advance along the road of lasting peace.

We seek to promote universal acceptance of the rule of law. We are determined to do all in our power to help the United Nations become an ever more effective instrument for peace. We support the International Court of Justice.

Though the road to guaranteed peace is a long one, we in the Western Hemisphere may take satisfaction that we among ourselves have made encouraging progress along that road. By providing guarantees of national independence and integrity to our own nations, we have set a useful example for the world. The Organization of American States has provided our American family of nations a valuable mechanism for consultation and has made possible the evolution of political and juridical doctrines in international relations which are accepted by all our republics. The vitality of our Organization was recently demonstrated in the meeting of Foreign Ministers which took place here in Santiago. Under the able chairmanship of your distinguished Foreign Minister, the meeting agreed to the strengthening of the Inter-American Peace Committee, and it gave new emphasis to two basic concepts of the Inter-American system: nonintervention and representative democracy.

With a long history of successful consultation, fortified by solemn agreements and machinery for the peaceful settlement of disputes, it is logical that leaders throughout the hemisphere should now have a new concern regarding the burden of armaments on the economies of the American Republics. Hence the initiative of His Excellency President Alessandri in suggesting that the time is ripe to find effective means of reducing the burden of armaments in Latin America has been hailed as an act of statesmanship.

Working out the procedures for achieving limitation and assuring compliance will not be easy. The level of armaments which a nation feels it must maintain to assure the safety of its people involves a decision which the sovereign authority of that country must make for itself. In reaching its decision, each government will have to balance the minimum requirements for security against the drain on its resources.

While the technical steps will be difficult, multilateral agreement can be achieved if each nation of the hemisphere has confidence that it need not fear unprovoked aggression.

It is precisely such confidence that our Inter-American system should provide. The Rio Treaty of 1947 provides, and I quote from that document, "that an armed attack by any State against an American State shall be considered as an attack against all the American States and, consequently, each one of the said Contracting Parties undertakes to assist in meeting the attack."

My Government supports this solemn agreement. Should any American Republic be the victim of aggression, the United States is ready to fulfill its treaty obligations with strength, promptness, and firmness.

Bearing in mind the guarantees provided by the Rio Treaty, I assure you that my Government is prepared to cooperate in any practical steps that may be initiated by the Government of Chile or any of her neighbors to reduce expenditures on armaments.

As arms expenditures decline, funds will be released for more productive purposes. This will be at best a gradual process. In the meantime, Chile, like other growing countries, will need capital for economic development. Here and elsewhere, that capital must come primarily from within; from the encouragement of savings, which depends on confidence in economic and political stability, and their intelligent investment; from a just and equitable tax system, strictly enforced; and from incentives to more efficient production and distribution, including the incentive of competition.

Yet domestic capital, while of first importance, will not always be sufficient to meet demands in a period of rapid growth. Hence Chile, like other countries, looks abroad for capital. I am glad that lending institutions in the United States have been able to grant substantial credits to the Government of Chile.

In addition, considerable other credits and equity capital have flowed into various sectors of your economy. Thus, United States copper companies have in the past three years invested more than $125 million in new capacity--which means more earnings, more tax revenue, and more jobs. Investments are either being made or planned in fabricating plants to use the output of your great steel mill. I have been happy to learn that your national power company has received approval for a loan from the International Bank which will permit needed expansion of your power supply; and that this will be supplemented by the investment of substantial private United States capital to increase power capacity in the Santiago-Valparaiso area. All this is good, since it will make important contributions to the growth of your country.

And yet the demand for more capital, in South America as in other parts of the world, continues. It is for this reason that during the past year the Congress of the United States--despite our own difficult situation with respect to international balances--has increased the resources of the Export-Import Bank, has approved the doubling of our subscription to the capital of the World Bank and has joined with you and your neighbors in the formation of the Inter-American Development Bank.

As this Bank starts its career, under the presidency of a distinguished Chilean, it, together with the other institutions I have mentioned, should do much to meet the need for long term credits.

I must emphasize, however, that the competition for both public and private credit is severe. Some charge that private capital in the more developed countries is seeking every opportunity to pour into the less developed countries in order to engulf their economies.

Nothing could be more erroneous. Investment capital is limited. Competition for it is keen in the United States and in many other countries. It will flow only to those areas where it is actively sought, welcomed, and treated fairly. More and more it seeks the partnership of local capital and local experience.

I congratulate your President and all of you on your efforts to strengthen the economy and fiscal situation of your country. You will thus create confidence for investment, both domestic and foreign.

As I have said, the principal impetus for any nation's economic development must be its own will--its own dedicated effort. Then, financial and technical assistance from abroad can be extremely helpful. So, too, can increased cooperation between neighbors. Working together, nations can increase trade and reduce costs of production, to their mutual benefit. These developments will attract additional credit. Hence the United States is sympathetic to the progress being made by Chile and her neighbors to establish some form of common market.

The United States, as the largest common market in the world, could not but look with favor on the efforts of other free nations--in Europe, Latin America, or elsewhere--to enhance their prosperity through the reduction of barriers to trade and the maximum use of their resources. We feel that a common market must be designed not only to increase trade within the region but to raise the level of world trade generally.

Members of the Chilean Congress: in mentioning briefly this afternoon our quest for peace and friendship in freedom, our common concern for reducing the burden of armaments, the need for development capital, and the benefits that may be derived from common planning, I have merely touched on several elements involved in our hopes for a better world for the future. What we do, or fail to do, will have its maximum impact on the lives of our children and grandchildren. The future is the domain of youth. More than ever before, our young people, living in a world of inter-dependence and rapid communication, must possess technical competence. They must develop inter-cultural understanding, possess high spiritual values and integrity, be imbued with a passion for cooperation, and be devoted to building societies in freedom, that yield benefits to all. Only then will they be able to use effectively all of their material resources, including capital. Hence, we now have the obligation to expand educational opportunities in each of our countries and provide for the maximum exchanges of students, teachers, and others. We must provide an environment which convinces our youth that only in a democratic society can there be the intellectual freedom they cherish, that there is no short-cut to a richer life, and that the path they must follow will demand courage and a deep and abiding faith in humanity.

These are values which for generations have been held dear in Chile, as they have been in my country. I trust that our sons and daughters will in the future give them even deeper meaning. From my visit to Chile and her neighbors I shall take back renewed faith in the lofty aspirations of free people and renewed courage to face the tasks during the time which remains to me as President of my country.

From my heart I thank you for the honor you have done me in inviting me to be with you today and for the cordial welcome you have given me.

I thank you.

Note: In his opening words the President referred to Senator Hernan Videla, President of the Senate, and Deputy Raul Juliet, President of the Chamber of Deputies. Later he referred to Foreign Minister German Vergara, who served as chairman of the meeting of the Foreign Ministers in Santiago, August 12-18, 1959.

Dwight D. Eisenhower, Address Before a Joint Session of the National Congress of Chile. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/235275

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