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Remarks to Organization of American States Ambassadors on Pan American Day

April 14, 1983

Mr. Vice President, Your Excellencies, Ambassadors:

We've celebrated Pan American Day each year since 1931 to draw worldwide attention to the ideals of the Western Hemisphere. And let me say, after 52 years, these ideals are still worth celebrating and remembering.

This year, in addition, we celebrate the 200th anniversary of the birth of the great South American liberator Simon Bolivar. It was Bolivar's ideal of hemispheric cooperation that inspired the creation of the inter-American system. In a letter in 1824, Bolivar expressed his vision this way: "After 15 years of sacrifices devoted to the liberty of America and to obtain the system of guarantees that in peace and in war might be the shield of our new destiny, it is time now that the interests and the relations which unite the American republics have a fundamental base." Well, in the last half century, while other areas of the world have been convulsed in open strife, war between the countries of our hemisphere here have been uncommon.

The activities of the Organization of American States, moreover, reach beyond conflict resolution. They advance many fundamental goals of the nations of the Americas-justice under law, protection of human rights, and economic and social development. Democracy remains the basic bond of our nations. It is our people's permanent aspiration and, for most of them, their way of life. Two-thirds of the members of this organization govern themselves democratically. As you would agree, it is democracy that gives our people their dignity and hope for the future.

A little over a year ago, I had the privilege of appearing in the historic Hall of the Americas to speak about this dignity and this future and to propose a new initiative for the Caribbean Initiative—or Caribbean Basin, I should say. And just 2 weeks ago, we signed an important agreement which is part of that initiative.

In approving the fiscal year 1982 Caribbean Initiative supplemental appropriation of $350 million, the Congress specified that a portion be set aside for training, part of which will be used for undergraduate scholarships. Because of the OAS fine record of technical cooperation, we've asked the OAS to administer a total of $4.4 million, the largest share of scholarship funds. Although the amounts are modest, these scholarships will, through a combination of grants and interest-free loans, enable Caribbean students to study subjects crucial to development and democracy in their countries.

I look upon it as a small part of a broader initiative to strengthen freedom throughout the Caribbean Basin. It's one more example of the shared goals that inspired Bolivar and which today gives the inter-American system its force. And I now call upon Congress to act rapidly on the trade and tax portions of the CBI so that the entire bill will be in effect.

On this Pan American Day of 1983, would you all extend to your countrymen the warm greeting of the people of the United States and reaffirm our commitment to the spirit of Simon Bolivar and to solidarity among the peoples of the Americas.

On my trip to South and Central America and to the countries that I visited, I said to the heads of state that I met with there, called to their attention the fact that I have mentioned here about the great—no other section of the world has enjoyed the long term of peace that our countries have enjoyed in these two continents of the Western Hemisphere. And I pointed out that from pole to pole, we worship the same God; we have the same pioneer heritage of having come from mainly European sources to establish all of the nations here, and that it was time for all of us to do even a better job than has been done in the past of the development of not only the resources but the freedom of our people, maintaining the sovereignty of each individual nation, but showing a coalition dedicated to freedom here in this Western Hemisphere. And what a force for good it could be if we could all see each other as partners equal in this effort. And it's my dream also that we continue that kind of a relationship and enhance it and improve it.

So, thank you very much.

Note: The President spoke at 3:34 p.m. in the Rose Garden at the White House.

Ronald Reagan, Remarks to Organization of American States Ambassadors on Pan American Day Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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