Lyndon B. Johnson photo

Remarks of Welcome at the White House to President Orlich of Costa Rica

June 30, 1964

Mr. President and Mrs. Orlich:

It is both a great privilege and a great personal 'pleasure to welcome you to our country and to this Capital City.

Only a year ago President Kennedy brought to you and your countrymen the good will and the good wishes which we of the United States feel so strongly for Costa Rica.

Today your visit symbolizes anew the growing strength of the friendly and cordial bonds between our countries. More than 100 years ago, representatives of your country and mine signed a treaty in which it was declared there shall be perpetual amity between the United States and the Republic of Costa Rica. We can be proud in both our lands that the promise of those prophetic words has been fulfilled through all the years since 1851.

We have worked together in the past with a spirit of mutual understanding and cooperation. We work together in that same spirit today, as good neighbors should, and servicemen of the United States are today working side by side with Costa Ricans to ease the threat of floods in your country. But our common vision and our common hopes bring us together in greater enterprises for the betterment of the common future of all Americas.

The work of the Alliance for Progress which President Kennedy began goes forward with growing momentum among all the good neighbors of this hemisphere. In your country, Mr. President, and through the joint efforts of the alliance, new homes and new schools are being built, textbooks are being produced, loans are being extended to farmers.

The 12 million inhabitants of the five countries of Central America are benefiting from the common market that your countries are building. We are deeply gratified by the promise that this undertaking so clearly offers.

As President Kennedy said when he visited your capital last year, the unique inter-American system of international cooperation is now demonstrating in this hemisphere that economic prosperity is the handmaiden of political liberty.

The work all of us are in together, all free Americans in this new world, is a great enterprise that is filled with difficulty and challenge, but it is an enterprise befitting the revolutionary spirit of our peoples and their quest for independence and their search for social justice.

We of the United States, Mr. President, are steadfast in our conviction and in our determination that we shall succeed in achieving the goals of our great Alliance for Progress.

I am proud, Mr. President, to welcome you to the United States this morning as a fellow American, as a fellow partner in our hemispheric alliance and as a fellow worker in the cause of peace and all mankind.

Note: The President spoke on the South Lawn at the White House where President Francisco J. Orlich was given a formal welcome with full military honors. President Orlich responded as follows:

Mr. President:

I am grateful for the warmth and generosity of your welcome.

As you have so well said, there is "perpetual amity" between our countries. It has been expressed in countless ways over many years. You have our deep gratitude for the most recent manifestation of your amity--the generous help of the United States in assisting my government and my country in meeting the grave crisis resulting from the volcanic eruption of Mount Irazu.

In the area covered by flood waters your magnificent Seabees are, as you say, Mr. President, working side by side and shoulder to shoulder with Costa Ricans. This is the true meaning of "perpetual amity"--the friendship of good neighbors who stand ready to help each other in their hour of distress.

The Alliance for Progress is, indeed, as you point out, Mr. President, the supreme example of "perpetual amity" which unites the hemisphere. But it is more than that as you have wisely perceived; the alliance unites us because it represents a philosophy of human dignity.

In our preoccupation with the technical and social problems of development, we are prone to forget that the final objective of all our efforts is man himself. We need a vast catalog of other things. But what shall these things have profited us if we forget to practice effective democracy; if we lose respect for human rights; if we sacrifice man's freedom as the price of economic accomplishment ?

We fight hunger, disease, and illiteracy under the banners of the Alliance for Progress. But let us always be mindful that the eradication of these scourges of mankind are only the means to reach the end of man's struggle--the right of the people--the ordinary people--to be heard; the right of the people to be respected; the right of the people to become citizens of their countries instead of being merely faceless inhabitants.

All of our efforts to achieve a peaceful social revolution under the Alliance for Progress can be expressed in one word, "integration." Here in the United States under your inspired leadership, Mr. President, you are engaged in a great struggle to integrate the poor and a racial minority into the affluent majority of this great land. In Latin America, on the other hand, our problem is to integrate the great mass of the poor, the illiterate, the diseased into the society of the privileged few.

Just as the Alliance for Progress seeks to benefit the underprivileged majorities of Latin America, your administration, Mr. President, is endeavoring to help the underprivileged minorities in your country by another example of peaceable, democratic social revolution--the civil rights legislation and the war against poverty. In the magnificent leadership which you have provided, you have identified yourself with our own Latin American struggle. Indeed, the hemispheric struggle for social justice is now indivisible.

Your gracious reference, Mr. President, to Jose del Valle, "precursor of Pan Americanism," in your phrase, moves me deeply. It is good to be able to confirm to you that we Central Americans have at long last begun to fulfill the dream of Central American unification.

Our Central American Common Market is, as you are aware, Mr. President, a going concern. Much work remains to be done. Nevertheless, it can now be said that this generation of Central Americans has kept faith; for us there is no turning back.

It is my hope and prayer that in your lifetime, Mr. President, and mine, we shall witness the fulfillment of Bolivar's dream--political unification-and that the legislators of the North, Central, and South Americas will sit side by side in a parliament of the hemisphere.

Mr. President, thank you again for your warm welcome. It is a great pleasure to visit again my second home as the guest of a good neighbor and fellow American, whose leadership of the continental alliance is respected and admired throughout the Western Hemisphere.

Lyndon B. Johnson, Remarks of Welcome at the White House to President Orlich of Costa Rica Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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