Jimmy Carter photo

Caracas, Venezuela Remarks of President Carter and President Carlos Andres Perez at the Welcoming Ceremony.

March 28, 1978

PRESIDENT PEREZ. Mr. President, Jimmy Carter, Mrs. Rosalynn:

It is with great satisfaction that we Venezuelans receive today your visit among us. You, President Carter, and your wife have been a very well known spokesman and advocates of the cause of universal democracy. For Venezuela, because of this reason, it is a very special satisfaction to have you here, and it is a great satisfaction for us to see that our homeland is the first country you visit in this trip to Latin America, Mr. President.

You come to Latin America at a time when all of our peoples are directing their eyes and their ears towards the Congress of the United States, towards this great debate which the Senate has at present, which will decide the fate of the relations between South America and North America. Each word pronounced there is of enormous importance, and it will have a very deep impact on Latin America.

When we, the Presidents and Chiefs of State of Latin America, went to Washington and met at the headquarters of the OAS, at that time all of our peoples of Latin America, whatever be their race, their creed, or the origin of their government, , supported the treaties signed by you, Mr. President, and the Chief of State of Panama, General Omar Torrijos.

Never since the beginning of the Second World War, Latin American countries have expressed such a total solidarity as at that time.

This means that that day, on September 7, 1977, history was written in this hemisphere. This is the date when there was a deletion of the resentment between our peoples. This is the date which put an end to historical circumstances, just as the circumstances that were put to an end in the past between the United States and England, between Latin America and Spain. This is the immense meaning of that date.

And we all trust the Americanistic spirit of the Senate of the United States. We know that Republicans and Democrats represent there the people of the United States and the desire the American people have for liberty, dignity, and the sovereign rights which were first claimed in the United States in 1776, when you achieved your independence.

I say this, as I know that with my words I interpret the feelings of Latin America. We are very optimistic as far as the treaties are concerned, but I must be frank and say that we also see with great concern any parliamentary eventuality which might still appear.

However, we hope that this treaty will be parallel to a new era, this new era the Bicentennial of which you just celebrated in the United States, and we celebrated it with you also. We hope that this new treaty will be the beginning of a new era of new friendship between the United States and Latin America.

This trip, Mr. President, has also another very important meaning, and this trip means the ratification of your policy towards the problems of the Third World. The two countries you have decided to visit in Latin America are Venezuela and Brazil, and we consider this fact as an expression of your concern towards Latin American problems. Then you will go to Africa and visit Nigeria and Liberia, and again with such a visit, you will ratify the importance you give to Third World problems. We know that the Third World has in you a receptive and sincere listener and a person willing to dialog with the Third World towards the attainment of international justice.

With these brief words, I would like to tell you that your name has achieved today great dimensions in Latin America and in the world, because you have given an ethical meaning to the policies of your Government.

We, the Venezuelan people and the people of Latin America, feel deep satisfaction to see that the President of one of the most powerful countries of the world has given to human rights a high priority in the policies of his Government. These are new ethical values which you have opened in the policies of your country, and this is a new humanistic outlook you have given to world politics in general. And through it, you have helped to strengthen the struggle that people wage throughout the world towards their wellbeing, but their well-being with dignity.

Mr. President, Mrs. Carter, in the name of Venezuela, of my government, of my wife, and in my own name, I wish you to receive our most friendly welcome, and I would like to ask you to feel at home in tills land of our liberator, Simon Bolivar.

PRESIDENT CARTER. Mr. President, my dear friends: Thank you for your welcoming words. I understand what has been said here. The ratification of the Panama treaties are also important for the United States.

This morning, I left the United States on a journey of 7 days and many thousands of miles. As I left, I told the people of my country that my purpose in making this trip would be to discuss with the leaders of four nations the great issues that will shape our future as a human family: peace, justice among individuals and among nations, the defense of human liberty, how to make the resources of the Earth meet the needs of all the world's people.

There is no place I would rather begin such a journey than here in Venezuela, my Nation's ally in support of democracy and one of the world's leaders in the solution of those issues that trouble us so much.

Of all the ties that unite our nations, none is stronger than the devotion we share to liberty. During my visit, I will place a wreath on the Pantheon of Simon Bolivar, who is as admired by my people as he is by yours. Whenever we honor one defender of liberty, we honor all whose lives served that great cause.

Just as our continents are linked, our destinies are linked as democratic nations.

We know that what in the modern world affects one nation eventually will affect all of us. That is why the strength of your democratic institutions here means so much to us.

We know that whenever the rights of any individual in the world are diminished, our own rights are in danger, and that wherever they are defended, as in Venezuela, our rights are strengthened.

Your country has many times shouldered the burden of reducing regional and international tensions and of attempting to reduce proliferation of conventional and nuclear arms. It is these responsibilities which we share that I wish to discuss with your President and my friend, Carlos Andres Perez.

We have united in seeking cooperation on energy and on the economic issues that exist between the nations of the North and South.

Venezuela has been an important and constructive leader in the movement toward greater regional cooperation—in the Andean Pact, in its contribution to the Caribbean Group, and in its creative direction in establishing SELA, the Latin American Economic System.

The people of Venezuela were most gracious and kind in the welcome that was extended to my wife, Rosalynn, on her visit here last year, and I am very happy to return with her.

I am proud to be here among friends.

Note: The exchange began at 1:22 p.m. at Simon Bolivar International Airport. President Perez spoke in Spanish, and his remarks were translated by an interpreter. President Carter also spoke in Spanish, and the translation of his remarks follows the White House press release.

Jimmy Carter, Caracas, Venezuela Remarks of President Carter and President Carlos Andres Perez at the Welcoming Ceremony. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/244717

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