Ronald Reagan picture

Remarks at the Welcoming Ceremony for President Jose Sarney Costa of Brazil

September 10, 1986

President Reagan. It's an honor to welcome President Sarney to the United States and to the White House. Brazil is a vast nation of hardy people, a country which shares with us a frontier heritage and a spirit of enterprise and independence. As was true for our country, people came to Brazil from many parts of the world to make a wilderness, to better their lives, and to live in freedom. And since the early days of both our nations, our countries have enjoyed bonds of commerce and friendship. I'm delighted today to have this opportunity to meet with President Sarney, to get to know him personally, and to discuss those issues which arise between great nations.

President Sarney is leading Brazil during a time of great transition, political and economic. Its peaceful return to democracy, accomplished with the good will and cooperation of all segments of Brazilian society, has been a model which others throughout the world, but especially in this hemisphere, should follow. Indeed, freedom is the birthright of all Americans, and that means every soul from the North Slope of Alaska to the tip of Tierra del Fuego. President Sarney, we rejoice that Brazil has again joined the ranks of free nations. And from what we can see and hear, that joy is apparent in your country also. You described it when you said: "Brazil has just emerged from a long night. Her eyes are not red from nightmares. On her lips she bears an open gesture of confidence and a song of love for liberty." Well, those words were well spoken, the words of a poet and a leader who loves his people and loves liberty. We're proud, Mr. President, to have such a man, and such a country as lovely as yours, as our friend.

Today democracy flourishes in Brazil. The rights of each individual are protected. Freedoms of expression, religion, and assembly are honored, and the franchise to vote in fair and direct elections has been expanded. And though a powerful nation, your country threatens no one. Brazil is at peace with itself and with its neighbors. And today Brazil is proving the fundamental relationship between human freedom and economic progress; they go hand in hand. Your countrymen are enjoying robust economic growth and an explosion of enterprise. The inflation rate is down dramatically, and it is estimated that 1 1/2 million new jobs have been created in the past year. Your commerce with other nations is surging, and new confidence is apparent from the factory to the marketplace. Brazil has the eighth largest economy in the Western World and is gaining on number seven.

But global considerations and international obligations come with such success. There can be little doubt that Brazil is emerging as a world power and is facing new challenges and responsibility as such. As two of the world's most energetic economies, we have a stake in strengthening the world trading system, protecting the viability of international monetary and financial institutions, and promoting growth and development, especially in the Third World. The world now has a stake in Brazil, and Brazil has a stake in the world. The free flow of commerce between countries, for example, is a vital force for progress on this planet and is of utmost importance to the economic health of our two countries. It is up to us to do our best to keep those lines of commerce open. Trade must be free, and it must be fair. And the fight for free trade must start at home. No nation can expect to continue freely exporting to others if its own domestic markets are closed to foreign competition. Prosperity must be built not at the expense of others, but on the principle of mutual benefit.

I'm looking forward, Mr. President, to discussing this and other issues of great importance with you during our meetings today. We have just scratched the surface of cooperation between Brazil and the United States. Technology is opening potential as never imagined between the free peoples of the world. In a few years the world will not only enter a new decade but also a new century and, yes, a new millennium. Brazil and the United States stand on that threshold together, but this is nothing new. In 1876 the United States celebrated its centennial, and there to help us commemorate our first 100 years was Dom Pedro II of Brazil. Representing your people, he, alongside President Grant, inaugurated the celebration and helped send the United States off to meet its destiny.

President Sarney, we're pleased to stand by you as Brazil is realizing the dream of those pioneers and immigrants who came before us. They came to Brazil and to the United States. They would want our peoples and the leaders of our countries to be the best of friends. We should not and will not let them down. President Sarney, welcome!

President Sarney. Mr. President, I thank you for your invitation and for your kind words which show the right regard you have for Brazil and its people. I'll talk with you about friendship and about many subjects, but my English is very broken. My effort in speaking your language is a marathon of good will. I use the word friendship again. It says everything—Brazil, the United States, our peoples, our history, our old relationship. We worked together, side by side in peace and in the last war. We will build together the construction of the present and of the future. All Brazilians feel happy with your invitation. Our meeting reinforces democracy in Brazil and in Latin America—so I see it. The only ideology of Brazil is democracy. It guides us, and it has permitted us to overcome the trials we had to face in the recent past. We are now back on our feet. We need friends like the United States. We need a partner to grow.

President Reagan, we admire your performance, your strength, your tenacity, your statesmanship. Your qualities inspire confidence to the American people. You gave a decisive personal contribution to the relations between our two countries in a moment of a great deal of uncertainty.

Now almost 4 years after your visit, Brazil is a different country, a new country. Conciliation and changes helped us achieve a peaceful transition to a free, democratic government. We are growing fast again. We are meeting our obligations. Our people have more jobs and better wages. We believe, like you, in free enterprise as the basis for development. We know that political freedom cannot survive when economic freedom no longer exists.

You once said that Brazil was a force in favor of moderation and balance. We are proud of that record. We will dedicate all our efforts to continuing to be a force for stability and peace. Our meeting will mark a fresh start for our relations, relations that are based on common goals and the values earned on a mutual respect for our differences.

To Mrs. Reagan, Marly and I wish to express our most friendly greetings, thanking her for the very warm welcome with which we are being distinguished. Mr. President, in Brazil we say that the man who has a friend has two souls. Brazil and the United States—two souls on one single destiny, the destiny of friendship. Thank you.

Note: President Reagan spoke at 10:10 a.m. at the South Portico of the White House, where President Sarney was accorded a formal welcome with full military honors. Following the ceremony, the two Presidents met in the Oval Office.

Ronald Reagan, Remarks at the Welcoming Ceremony for President Jose Sarney Costa of Brazil Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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