Remarks on the Alliance for Progress to Representatives of the Countries of Latin America.
I HAVE asked you to come here today because this is, in a very special sense, a family gathering, for nothing in President Kennedy's public career meant more to him than the ties which united this country and yours.
A little less than 3 years ago, here in the White House, in this very room, President Kennedy met with you, the representatives of the countries of Latin America. In the first full-scale foreign policy address of his administration, he called for an Alliance for Progress among all the nations of the Americas.
Today among you in this same room I have come to reaffirm that Alliance, and pledge all the energies of my Government to our common goals.
I know from personal experience that the future of this hemisphere, the relations between the United States and Latin America, must be among the highest concerns of my Government.
I have lived my life together with many who proudly claim descent from Latin America. The sound of the Spanish tongue and the signs of your rich, cultural traditions were among my earliest and my most enduring impressions.
I began my Government service in Washington under President Franklin D. Roosevelt. And from him I learned that nothing is more important to the country I now lead than its associations with our good neighbors to the south.
In October of 1960 during the political campaign I reminded my fellow citizens of the United States that, and I quote, "We must support, morally and financially, the struggle of our Latin American friends against political, economic, and social injustice, not only to improve their standard of living but to foster the democratic way of life in every country."
To me, therefore, as it was to President Kennedy, the Alliance for Progress is part of a long and deeply rooted tradition. That alliance contains the basic principles of the new society which we are building, principles agreed to by all our countries in the Charter of Punta del Este.
The first of these agreed principles is the right of every American nation to govern itself free from outside dictation or coercion from any quarter. None among us can tell another how to organize its society or how to conduct its affairs.
The second of these agreed principles is the right to human freedom, the right of each person to freely speak his views, worship God in his own way, participate in the political life of his nation. History and circumstances have created restraints on democracy in some of our nations. But we must never forget that our task will not be complete until every American lives in the dignity of freedom.
The third of these agreed principles is the right to social justice. The right of every citizen to share in the progress of his nation. We have called for land for the landless, education for those denied education, and an end to the unjust privilege of a few at the expense of the needs of the many.
The fourth of these agreed principles is dedication to economic progress. To this end we have embarked upon a cooperative program in which the nations of Latin America have agreed to dedicate their resources, bear fresh sacrifice, and expect hard labor. And the United States has pledged itself and will carry out its own commitments. And it is to these principles that we have dedicated ourselves.
So I reaffirm the pledge which President Kennedy made last week to improve and strengthen the role of the United States in the Alliance for Progress. We all know that there have been problems within the Alliance for Progress, but the accomplishments of the past 3 years have proven the soundness of our principles. The accomplishments of the years to come will vindicate our faith in the capacity of free men to meet the new challenges of a new day. And it was in the spirit of the principles that we have worked out together that President Kennedy launched the Alliance for Progress in this very room. Inspired by his memory, and in that same spirit, we will carry on the job.
Let the Alliance for Progress be his living memorial.
Note: The President spoke in the East Room at the White House to representatives of Latin American countries who were in Washington to attend the funeral of President Kennedy. His remarks have been transcribed from a tape recording.
After speaking, the President and Alberto Lleras Camargo, former President of Colombia, went to the Fish Room where President Johnson gave a summary of his remarks for release to the press and Mr. Lleras Camargo added the following:
"I am Alberto Lleras Camargo, from Colombia. I came here Saturday in the delegation to the funeral of President Kennedy from my country.
"On behalf of the delegations that were meeting with the President of the United States, I answered to the President on his very memorable speech. I said that it was very difficult to speak on behalf of so many important countries of the world; that it is a task that no one can achieve, but that I understood very well and I can interpret very well the sentiments of all of Latin America and of our countries in general, of our governments, saying to the President that we appreciated very much that one of his first communications with the public opinion of this country and of the world over was dedicated in the same manner in which President Kennedy dedicated his at the beginning of his administration, to that part of the world, Latin America, that has started with the late President a great movement in its development.
"I thank him on behalf of all the representatives of the Latin American countries, the President, for his speech, his inspiring speech, and for the words of hope for the peoples of Latin America."
For President Kennedy's pledge to strengthen the role of the United States in the Alliance for Progress see his address in Miami before the Inter-American Press Association, 1963 volume, this series, Item 468.
Lyndon B. Johnson, Remarks on the Alliance for Progress to Representatives of the Countries of Latin America. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/242294