John F. Kennedy photo

Remarks to a Group of Student Leaders From Brazil.

July 30, 1963

WE WANT to express a very warm welcome to you. Last year we had a visit from a group of students which we benefited from. We hope they found it of some interest. We are glad to welcome you here. I understand you have some questions and I will be glad to answer them.

Q. [Both the question and the simultaneous translation are inaudible on the tape recording. ]

THE PRESIDENT. Well, on the question, we support the Alliance for Progress very strongly, which is a common effort which is derived, certainly, in part from Operation Pan American, which had its roots in Brazil. We want a fairer distribution of the wealth of Latin America, because we think that a degree of equality of economic opportunity is essential for political stability and for a system of freedom.

Now I think the American companies which have invested there have helped develop the resources of these countries. I would assume that they would be treated equitably. If there were some changes made in the economic structure which might affect American companies or Brazilian companies, I would assume there would be reasonable compensation for any property that was taken. Otherwise, of course, it is extremely important to encourage investment, encourage capital. And I don't think that the United States would ever have been developed without foreign capital.

I think it's desirable for Latin America. One of the ways, it seems to me, to encourage that capital is to provide for equitable treatment of the investment. Now that doesn't mean it should be preferred treatment. It doesn't mean that there may not be changes. As you know, in Brazil today there are some proposals which are now being negotiated out between American companies and the Brazilian Government for the Brazilian Government to take possession of those companies. But the question of compensation is being discussed, reasonable compensation, and that is all I have ever suggested.

Q. [Both the question and the simultaneous translation are inaudible on the tape recording. ]

THE PRESIDENT. I think that you have stated the problem very clearly. Private investment goes where there is a return on capital, which may or may not serve the particular national need of the time. Sometimes it does. On occasions it may not be so useful. So there are other general public needs which Brazil, and any country which is developing, needs for capital. The United States Government through the Bank, through the Alliance for Progress has attempted to make those funds available.

So in answer to your question, yes, we are now and we will in the future have long-term, very low interest rate loans which will be available for the Brazilian Government, the country of Brazil, in those areas where capital is needed--education, roads, all those other areas where you do not have the kind of return on capital which makes private investment flow in there. So in answer to your question, I am strongly in favor of that kind of government-to-government relationship, because I think it is essential if Latin America is going to be able to maintain, in a satisfactory standard of living, its steadily increasing population.

I am afraid that I have to return to my office, but I want to express a warm welcome to all of you. I think you will be seeing other members of the Government. I hope you will raise these same questions, and any others that we didn't answer, with them. I regard the relationship between Latin America--of which Brazil is the largest country--I regard that as essential for the security of this hemisphere, for the maintenance of the freedom of our country and the countries associated with us.

So we are very glad to have you here. You are the hope of Brazil and the hope of the hemisphere. So we are very glad to welcome you to the United States.

How many candidates for the President of Brazil, potentially, do we have here? I am glad to see you.

Thank you very much.

Note: The President spoke in the Flower Garden at the White House. The group of 72 graduate students from 7 leading Brazilian universities was visiting the United States under the sponsorship of the Associacao Universitaria Inter-Americana, an organization financed by U.S. and Brazilian businessmen working toward a better understanding of the United States.

John F. Kennedy, Remarks to a Group of Student Leaders From Brazil. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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