Ronald Reagan picture

Remarks at the United States Embassy in Brasilia, Brazil

December 02, 1982

Thank you very much, and it's good of all of you to be here. Thank you for coming. I was afraid we might not have a good turnout. [Laughter] Someone told me that those of you fortunate enough to live in 113 normally prefer to hang around home. [Laughter]

Well, in contrast to the Secretary, as you know, this is my first visit to South America and to Brazil, and it's an exciting country. And the capital is particularly intriguing. Like many of you, I can remember when Brasilia was no more than a gleam in the eye of its designer. The world has changed. Brasilia is now a major world capital. And this Embassy is one, as you've been told, of our most important missions.

Brazil is a key political and economic force in the region and an increasingly important actor on the world political stage. The relations between our two countries are now entering a period where the need for cooperation is perhaps greater than ever before. And it's to reinforce the importance the United States attaches to Brazil that I've come here to continue the discussions that President Figueiredo and I began last May when he visited us in Washington.

Ambassador Motley tells me the Embassy staff is first rate, that you are doing an outstanding job, and that you stand ready to assist in this task of strengthening our relations with Brazil. I don't think we need any proof of that beyond the help that, as George said, you've already given us in arranging this visit. From the very beginning, the cooperation that we've received from the Embassy and the Consulate-General in Sao Paulo has been exceptional. You have all put in a lot of time and hard work. And I want you to know that your efforts are truly appreciated.

Now, there was just one slipup. The schedule said this morning that I was to wake up at 8 o'clock. I woke up at 7- [laughter] —you know, the change of time and all.

Very few Americans realize what a unique and special group you are—the handful of Americans who represent and serve our country abroad. The tasks you face are enormous. You often live in conditions of hardship and frequently in danger; and under the most extreme conditions, such as Iran, you've proved your mettle above and beyond the call of duty. Even in less difficult circumstances, you must uproot your families, frequently, begin new lives in countries where you serve, often finding it necessary to overcome the barriers of foreign language and different customs.

Secretary Shultz has told me of the superb job that our Brazilian colleagues on the Embassy staff do, year in and year out. I always get a kick out of the Washington columnists who regularly refer to our missions around as the "striped pants set." I wonder where they get their material? I do not see any striped pants here. [Laughter] What I do see is a group of hard-working, dedicated individuals—Americans and Brazilians—who make up a team that I'm proud to be a part of.

So, you keep up the good work. And thank you very much for all that you're doing, and God bless you.

[The President spoke at 9:22 a.m. inside the Embassy. He then went outside and spoke to members of the American community in Brazil at 9:32 a.m.]

Mr. Secretary, Mr. Ambassador, you ladies and gentlemen:

I'm very pleased, honored to have the opportunity to participate in the unveiling of this plaque that commemorates my visit.

I think it's significant that the first plaque on the wall commemorated the 1958 visit of Secretary John Foster Dulles, who came to dedicate the grounds of this Embassy. And we're delighted to have with us Ellen Dulles Coelho, John Foster Dulles' granddaughter, who is living here in Brasilia-and I know is someplace here, but I haven't been able to pick out. Would you raise your hand? There. Well, pleased to have you here.

The United States was the first country to establish an Embassy in Brasilia, symbolic of the pioneer spirit that characterizes our two peoples. And the young people here from the American School of Brasilia are living proof of this. I think a student body with Brazilians, Americans, and other nationalities studying and playing together is a lesson for all of us. We can cooperate and resolve our disputes in a spirit of friendship.

There's another plaque here, one commemorating the 1960 visit of President Eisenhower. He was a statesman who understood and deeply appreciated the importance of building and maintaining good relations between Brazil and the United States. And on returning from his visit to Brazil, he told the American people, "Brazil treasures as much as we do freedom, human dignity, equality and peace with justice." Well, on this visit and on this occasion, may I just say, I share his views, and I'm sure that all of us do. And this is a great example as these two great nations have found these bonds of friendship between us.

And now, I'm not going to keep you waiting any longer. I'm going to unveil the plaque.

That's better than winning an Oscar. [Laughter]

Note: Following his appearance at the Embassy, the President went to the Palacio do Planalto, where he met with President Figueiredo. He then left Brasilia for a visit to Sao Paulo.

Ronald Reagan, Remarks at the United States Embassy in Brasilia, Brazil Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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