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Remarks at the "Latino USA" Reception

May 05, 1993

Thank you very much. Thank you. I started to apologize for being late, but now I'm glad I am. You're in a good humor. [Laughter] I have, as you can tell by my outfit, been somewhere else tonight, but I'm awfully glad to be here. I want to say to Dr. Cardenas and to all of you, happy Cinco de Mayo. Viva public radio. And thank you for letting me be here tonight.

There are a lot of friends of mine here, and you see with me Secretary Cisneros and Secretary Penia. They've talked already, I think. I'm very proud of them. I'm very glad they're a part of my administration, along with Regina Montoya, who is my Special Assistant for Intergovernmental Relations. That means when Governors and Mayors are happy, it's her fault. When they're mad, it's because I made a mistake. [Laughter] I also would like to thank the Members of Congress who are here: Congressmen Esteban Torres, Carlos Romero-Barcelo, Bob Menendez, Solomon Ortiz, Ed Pastor, and Luis Gutierrez, my good friends here. I also want to note the presence here of three people from KUAR-FM in Little Rock, Arkansas: Regina Dean, Ben Frye, and Tim Edwards.

Last year at this time I celebrated Cinco de Mayo on the town square in San Francisco with tens of thousands of people. It was an ecstatic day, 4 weeks from the end of the primary season. I am deeply honored to be here with you tonight to acknowledge this important day, which was a day of victory and a new beginning for the people of Mexico.

Tonight we celebrate another new beginning, and I want to offer my congratulations and best wishes to all who have worked so hard to launch "Latino USA." I believe it will be a new forum for all the diverse voices throughout America's Latino communities and a new way for more Americans to learn more about the importance of the many Latino cultures in the United States and the many leaders who have brought and are bringing hope and inspiration to all Americans. I think tonight I'd like to say that we ought to have a special word of thanks for the life and work of the late Cesar Chavez. [Applause]

I want to say a special word of thanks to the Members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus; I have introduced many of them to you. They have met with me extensively, and they've helped to make me more aware of the needs and opportunities in Latino communities throughout the United States and in Puerto Rico. That's all part of the United States. I'm still for self-determination, by the way. That's my position, and I want to follow it.

I want to say also that the Health Care Task Force, which my wife is chairing, has benefited immensely from the contributions of Latinos in community-based health movements all over the United States who have helped us to understand some of the special needs that we must respond to in putting together a real program to provide health security for all the people of the United States, something that we are determined to do this year. And I want you to support us in that.

I also want you to know that—I don't know if this is a commendation or a condemnation in the world of electoral politics—but my wife and I are NPB junkies. When I was Governor of Arkansas, we woke every morning for more than a decade to the NPB station at home, kicking on at 6 a.m. Our radio would come on, and I would hear some thoughtful news broadcast but desperately want to go back to sleep. But the earnest sincerity of NPR always got me up and got me going. As a matter of fact, I was so impressed with the quality—yes, I am— [laughter] —the quality of the programs that I asked NPR's president, Douglas Bennet, to leave his post and join my administration as Assistant Secretary of State for International Organizations. Now, I want you to know that Doug has his hearing on Friday. And after all these years, he's going to get a feel for what it's like to be on the other side of the microphone. That was almost worth making the appointment for. [Laughter]

I also want to say a word of congratulations to NPR's news division and its vice president for news, Bill Buzenberg, for "All Things Considered," which celebrated its 22d anniversary on Monday, a great program. I hope that "Latino USA" does for its audiences what programs like "All Things Considered" and "Morning Edition" do for audiences all across America today. Perhaps 22 Cinco de Mayos from today, you too will be able to look back and remember what an important beginning this really was.

And let me say in general, I am trying to make this administration one of new beginnings. I'm doing my best every day to get up and go to work with people like Henry and Federico, knowing that we don't have all the answers and knowing that you can't just turn the ship of state around overnight, but believing that our solemn obligation is to get up every day and try to change this country for the better and try to make it possible for Americans to honestly and maturely and with discipline and vision and will face our problems and seize our opportunities, trying to make absolutely sure that our diversity is a cause of strength not a source of division so that every person in this country and every child, like that beautiful little girl I held up a minute ago, can grow up and live to the fullest of their God-given capacities. That is our job.

Thank you, and God bless you all.

NOTE: The President spoke at 10:35 p.m. at the Sequoia Restaurant. In his remarks, he referred to Gilbert Cardenas, executive producer of "Latino USA."

William J. Clinton, Remarks at the "Latino USA" Reception Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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