John F. Kennedy photo

Remarks at El Coco Airport, Costa Rica, Upon Leaving for the United States.

March 20, 1963

President Chiari, Presidents of the Central American Republics:

I want to express my very warm appreciation to all of you for your kindness to all of us who came from North America to this conference. I think we go back greatly heartened and encouraged by the conversations we have had, by the strong feeling of friendship which we felt across the table, and also by the realization that although we face difficult struggles in this hemisphere and throughout the world, that we are not alone and are accompanied on this voyage by fast friends.

May I say, Mr. Presidents, that we leave here greatly encouraged because we recognize that you are committed to the same objectives which so involve us all, and that is the welfare of our people, particularly the people of our countries and the people of this hemisphere. We are joined together by nature, by a common inheritance, a common experience, a common conviction for the future, a common hope for the future, and I think it is a source of great strength to meet here in the Isthmus and in the Central American Republics men who are committed to these same great objectives, the preservation of freedom, in this decade of decision.

Mr. Presidents, I know that we all recognize that regardless of our own efforts, in the final analysis it depends upon the strength of our people, their vitality, their energy, their willingness to assume the heavy burdens for great results, and I think it is this part of the trip which has been most striking. I recognize that the people of Costa Rica share an inheritance and a history with the people of the other American Republics, and Panama, so we judge them by what we have seen here in Costa Rica.

And I must say, Mr. President, I know of no more vital, energetic, warmhearted, vigorous, hopeful people than the great citizens of this great democracy. The impression that we, all of us, from the United States carry back is of the hands of friendship which have been extended to us and the strong feeling that while we came in a sense as strangers 3 days ago, we leave tonight as friends.

So we say goodbye and many thanks.

Hasta luego and viva Costa Rica.

Note: The President's opening words "President Chiari" referred to Roberto Chiari, President of Panama.

John F. Kennedy, Remarks at El Coco Airport, Costa Rica, Upon Leaving for the United States. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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