Lyndon B. Johnson photo

Remarks at a Luncheon Honoring the Foreign Ministers Attending a Meeting of the Organization of American States

September 22, 1967

Chief Justice, Mr. Secretary of State, distinguished Foreign Ministers, Members of the Diplomatic Corps, Members of Congress, my friends, ladies and gentlemen:

To the distinguished foreign ministers I want to say that it is a very special pleasure for me to be able to dine with you in the White House today.

Even though the United States is not the formal host of this meeting, I did use my constitutional powers to persuade Secretary Rusk that I should be your informal host.

You have come here to Washington to consider the problems of Communist subversion in our hemisphere. Your task is to determine what action the inter-American community should take to improve its defense against this form of aggression.

I think we will all agree that our principal weapons in this connection are those we forged together at Punta del Este in August 1961, and when we returned there in April 1967: the Alliance for Progress and the summit program.

These are the long-term guarantors of freedom that we cherish so much.

But we know that governments have immediate responsibilities as well as long-term ones--that these governments must meet terrorism and sabotage and they must meet it with resolute force where it is necessary; that mutual support by neighboring countries strengthens their ability always to deal with indirect aggression.

Though we of the Americas are now confronted with a virulent form of subversion that is directed from Havana, there is really nothing new about that strategy.

In 1951, speaking to the Vietnamese Communists, Ho Chi Minh threw out a quote from Lenin which, I think, is quite appropriate and I would like to repeat it.

"Lenin," Ho reminded his listeners, "said, that if a compromise with bandits was advantageous to the revolution, he would do it."

Several of your countries are coping with precisely this kind of ideological gangsterism--this united front between agents of Castro, local elements who have been given a new license for crimes against their fellow citizens, and the genuinely discontented who have been genuinely misled by Communist abstractions.

We must observe that this struggle is costing you energies and resources that would much better be invested in projects that benefit your immediate peoples. You carry this burden and you support these costs--in your own defense, and really in defense of the rest of us in this hemisphere.

Halfway around this world another little nation is fighting a two-front war against poverty and subversion. It is fighting for the same goals of political, economic, social development, for the same right of self-determination and nonintervention that is basic to our own cherished inter-American system. As Benito Juarez said, "Respect for the rights of others is peace." No one could define the objectives that the United States is pursuing today in Vietnam more accurately than that.

Last month Dr. Mora organized a very special ceremony to mark the sixth anniversary of the Alliance for Progress. It was built around the essays that young people from your countries wrote about the Alliance for Progress. I was delighted that I was able to briefly participate in that ceremony.

On that occasion I said: "If what we do," under the Alliance for Progress, "is to really last, we must make this commitment to ourselves and to all of Latin America: We will persevere. There is no time limit to our commitment. We are in this fight to stay all the way."

As we meet here in the State Dining Room at the White House this afternoon, I want to repeat that pledge to you.

As members of a community that is richly blessed in spiritual heritage and material potential--that is blessed with unity and blessed with strength--I invite you to join me in a toast to the security and to the web fare of our own hemisphere, as well as to the defense of freedom everywhere in the world.

Note: The President spoke at 2:37 p.m. in the State Dining Room at the White House. In his opening words he referred to Chief Justice Earl Warren and Secretary of State Dean Rusk. Later he referred to Dr. Jose A. Mora, Secretary General of the Organization of American States.

As printed above, this item follows the text released by the White House Press Office.

Lyndon B. Johnson, Remarks at a Luncheon Honoring the Foreign Ministers Attending a Meeting of the Organization of American States Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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