John F. Kennedy photo

Remarks of Welcome at the White House to Dr. Victor Paz Estenssoro, President of Bolivia

October 22, 1963

Mr. President:

I am very proud to welcome you to the United States.

As you know, the United States Government-this administration--in fact, our whole people are particularly concerned with our relations to the countries to the south of us. Nature has placed us in one great hemisphere, and it is my strong hope that working together the countries of Latin America and the United States, Canada-working together, we can make this hemisphere a fruitful and peaceful place in which people can live and develop their lives and their talents.

I am particularly glad to have you here, Mr. President, because your efforts in your own country long antedated the common effort which we are attempting to make in the Alliance for Progress through the agreement and Charter of Punta del Este.

Your revolutionary efforts to improve the life of your people, to make nature their ally and not their enemy, to use the resources of your country--the material resources--and to make it possible for the people of your country to have a better chance in life--you have been engaged in this effort for more than 10 years, and we are delighted to have you here.

What you are attempting to do in your own country is what I hope all of us in all of our countries in this hemisphere would try to do for our people and to make this, in this decade, a light--this hemisphere-which can shine with a good deal of pride and a good deal of warmth throughout the entire globe.

So, we are glad to have you, Mr. President, for the effort you are making in your own country. Because your own country is of great importance; it bears a great name in the history of this hemisphere--Bolivia. You yourself as a distinguished scholar as well as political leader have looked strongly to the future, and we wish to associate the United States with this great common enterprise.

We are very proud to have you here, Mr. President

Note: The President spoke at 11:40 a.m. on the South Lawn at the White House where President Paz Estenssoro was given a formal welcome with full military honors.

In his response President Paz first conveyed the cordial greetings of his countrymen to the American people and spoke of their admiration for the United States--not only for its technical progress but for the democratic values to which it is committed.

He then spoke of his own nation as one handicapped by a difficult geography but long devoted to liberty and to the pursuit of social justice. It was with those aims, President Paz continued, that Bolivia's national revolution of 1952 was undertaken. The whole of Latin America, he went on, had reached a decisive moment in its history, with the masses of the people now playing a primary political role and showing impatience to satisfy long-felt needs and to obtain long-denied rights.

In the resulting political cross currents, President Paz pointed out that Bolivian democracy had stood firm. It must now become an effective instrument of social justice, he added. Fortunately, he continued, Bolivians were not alone in that endeavor. "Thanks to your understanding, Mr. President, we can rely upon your cooperation, which has been extremely valuable, and yet it has never demanded from us anything that might have tainted our national dignity and sovereignty."

Referring to his visit to colonial Williamsburg the day before, President Paz said it had brought home to him the great strides made by the United States since its birth as an independent nation.

"I feel certain that I will be understood here," he said in conclusion. "I have come for nothing else but to talk in an atmosphere of frankness about common matters and to achieve a better understanding between the peoples of Bolivia and the United States."

John F. Kennedy, Remarks of Welcome at the White House to Dr. Victor Paz Estenssoro, President of Bolivia Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

Filed Under




Washington, DC

Simple Search of Our Archives