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Brasilia, Brazil Remarks Before the Brazilian Congress.

March 30, 1978

Distinguished leaders of the great Government of Brazil, the Senate, the House of Deputies:

One of the greatest honors of my life is to meet with others who share with us in the United States a common back- ground, a common commitment to the common future.

I particularly want to thank Senator Enrico Rezende and my good and old friend, Deputado Erasmo Martins Pedro, for those inspirational words. There is no way that I can match your eloquence. There's no way that I can improve upon what you have said. And your complimentary words to me, undeserved, will be an inspiration in the years ahead.

I've been here before in this chamber, in your country. I've been impressed with the greatness of Brazil. I've seen the compatibility between your own people and ours—the origins of your country; the struggle for freedom against colonial rule; the courage, the tenacity, the dedication that was required in our country and yours to explore new frontiers, to carve out for ourselves a better life, a greater life, and a position of leadership throughout the whole world.

I recognize that in your country and in mine there is a great diversity of interest, differences among people, and a constant, unceasing, most often successful struggle to bring harmony among differences and to carve out common commitments that will add the strength of all those different people together to reach a destiny even more inspirational than the past history has already given to us.

We share a common religion among many of our people, a common hope for peace. We share a feeling that our nations are bound together with unbreakable chains. We share a realization that while friendship is strong enough to sustain transient differences of opinion, that we can exchange ideas freely and without constraint and, in the process, learn about one another and perhaps improve the attitudes of people in the United States and also in Brazil.

We are learning together in the Western Hemisphere, which still has the vigor of newness, how we can exert our leadership throughout the rest of the world in dealing with hunger and despair, in dealing with the struggle for basic human rights.

We understand the broad definition of these two important words—the right to freedom, the right to criticize a government, the right of people to contain within themselves, collectively, the ultimate authority, the right to an education, the right to good health, a place to live, food, the right to share more equitably the riches with which God has blessed us, the right to express opinions, the right to enhance our own individuality, the right to seek collective solutions to private and public problems, the right to expose the greatness of our own nations which we love.

I'm grateful for the invitation to appear before this great Congress as one whose own political career began in a legislature. I've seen the importance of a good relationship between a Governor and a State legislature, between a President and a national Congress. And I join you in honoring the ultimate purpose of any legislative body, that of ensuring that individual people who have small voices may participate through you in the decisions that affect their lives.

Thirty-one years ago, another American President stood before the Brazilian Congress, another Congress in a different city, since your vision of Brasilia had not yet been fulfilled. I'd like to quote from the words of Harry Truman: "It is not too much to describe our relations as those of life-long friends," he said. And then he asked, "Why are the ties between Brazil and the United States so close? The distance between our countries is great. And until recent years communications were slow and difficult. It is not physical proximity that alone makes friends and neighbors; it is rather the fact that we have common interests, common principles, and common ideals."

Those words still apply today, and they are the overriding concepts which bind our nations together permanently and on which we base our realization and our hope and our expectation for future friendship, stability, and mutual strengthening in the years to come.

In the intervening years, Brazil has come into an even fuller realization of your rightful place in the world, though it has not yet reached the limits of your enormous potential. And after all those years, we can still call on one another as friends, for that bond recalls the sacrifices that we have made together in a common struggle, with the loss of Brazilian and American lives, and it implies the right to disagree on occasion, even vigorously, without bitterness or mistrust.

As I said when I met your President yesterday, the world needs, the world expects, and the world will benefit from your creativity, your energy, and your success. Many of the problems that we share as members of a human family will never be solved unless the ablest among us devote their best to efforts to that cause. Economic development with a fairer distribution of the world's riches, a trading system that is open and equitable, cooperative solutions to our common energy problems, peaceful use of atomic power without the risk of proliferation, reducing the excessive trade in weapons, and encouraging consultations and negotiations about even the most troubling issues, advancing the cause of human liberty, democratic government, and the rule of law-these are efforts in which the United States needs your friendship, your partnership, and the world needs your help and your leadership. And I'm sure we will not be disappointed.

Since my friend has quoted the Bible, I would like to do the same. In Portuguese, as well as English, the Bible tells us that to whom much is given, much will be required. Our two nations have been greatly blessed by God, and we have much to give in return.

Thank you very much.

Note: The President spoke at 11 a.m. in the Chamber of Deputies of the Congress. In his remarks, he referred to Enrico Rezende, majority leader of the Senate, and Federal Deputy Erasmo Martins Pedro.

Prior to his remarks, the President met at the Supremo Federal Tribunal with Minister Carlos Thompson Flores, president of the Supremo Federal Tribunal, and upon his arrival at the Congress, the President met in the Salon Nobre with senior members of the Senate and Chamber of Deputies.

Following his remarks to the Congress, the President proceeded to the Palacio do Planalto for meetings with President Geisel.

Jimmy Carter, Brasilia, Brazil Remarks Before the Brazilian Congress. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/244766

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