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Remarks of Welcome at the White House to President Stroessner of Paraguay

March 20, 1968

Mr. President:

In the language of diplomacy, our meeting this morning is called an "official visit." But if the weather that you brought with you continues, I think we should call it an "official picnic."

It was about this time last year that it was my pleasure to visit Uruguay for the historic Punta del Este conference.

It was there that the leaders of Latin America and the United States reaffirmed the historic pledge of the Alliance for Progress: "to bring our people accelerated economic progress and broader social justice within the framework of personal dignity and political liberty."

You and I, Mr. President, together with our fellow Presidents, resolved "to achieve to the fullest measure the free, just, and democratic social order demanded by the peoples of this hemisphere."

It is very clear that there has been progress in Latin America toward the goals of social justice during the 1960's. Insofar as these goals have been approached in many nations, those who love freedom take new heart from their example. Insofar as they have not yet been achieved, those who fear for freedom have even greater cause to spur their efforts.

It is also clear that there has been progress in Latin America toward the goals of economic prosperity--but I think we all know, not near enough progress. The vast resources of a great continent are just now beginning to really be tapped.

Your country, Mr. President, has made an impressive beginning toward regional growth--with the great hydroelectric plant, whose energies you will share with Argentina and Brazil, with the Trans-Chaco Highway which will help join the peoples of several nations in new communications and new prosperity.

The Alliance for Progress is helping to bring social and economic hope to millions in Paraguay and to the other countries of the hemisphere. We are proud to be partners in this effort that is being made in this hemisphere for these peoples.

You are welcome among us, Mr. President, and I look forward to our discussions together.

The first day of spring gives us a wonderful excuse to meet. If anyone from the press should ask us what we discussed we can always answer, "Well, first, we talked about the weather."

Note: The President spoke at 11:35 a.m. on the South Lawn at the White House where President Alfredo Stroessner was given a formal welcome with full military honors. President Stroessner responded in Spanish. A translation of his remarks follows:

Mr. President and Mrs. Johnson:

It is an honor for me to be in the United States of America as a special guest of the Government of this powerful, noble, and hospitable country. My presence here comes at an exceptional time for the free world, to which by its own right my country belongs. I bring, Mr. President, the homage of the Paraguayan people to the great people of the United States of America, together with the testimony of a sincere friendship, never contradicted by our deeds.

I wish to express my admiration for the creative capability of this great Nation, at the forefront of Christian civilization, whose principles you have defended, are defending, and will surely continue to defend in the future, with faith in what is right and with the blood of its sons in the crucial moments of world history.

You have had the kindness of remembering on this solemn occasion the time at which President Rutherford B. Hayes acted as arbiter in our boundary problem. The results of this arbitration gave Paraguay title to the disputed lands, a decision that the Americas acknowledged as an expression of justice on the part of the country of George Washington.

I feel certain that my visit to the United States of America will help to increase even more the traditional ties of friendship between our two peoples and that cooperation, solidarity, and mutual assistance will be the legitimate instruments of an active and constructive pan-Americanism.

Surely these instruments will redound to the benefit and happiness of millions of human beings in our hemisphere who await the determination of a formula which will accelerate their development and integration within a framework of peace, democracy, and liberty.

My country is proud to have lived up to its duties as an American nation, and in its name I reaffirm to you its willingness to go on upholding the standard of a glorious civilization, of which the United States is the unquestioned leader.

Assuming with all seriousness its international and internal responsibilities, Paraguay will always honor its word, founded in the confidence given it by its historical background, full of glowing deeds whose significance commits us before posterity.

I am persuaded that if our peoples contribute every day to the forging of a better understanding between themselves we shall be in a better condition to face problems related to development, self-determination, and democracy.

The spiritual heritage of the American directs us to the achievement of progress. Paraguay lives up to the ideal of making full use of its own economic resources, in order to earn the respect and appreciation of others.

Thus, we hope to stimulate the building of more schools, more university facilities, more houses, more roads, better health assistance for the people, more material and spiritual accomplishments which will be the foundation of structural changes and social reforms without which the Americas will be unable to wage their memorable struggle for democracy and liberty.

My country has faith and confidence in its future. The institutions established by mutual accord to improve the well-being of all Americans deserve all of our support. The Alliance for Progress is a vast plan and a great effort to overcome problems caused by underdevelopment, and on its stage the role played by the United States of America is of vital importance.

The same should be said in relation to the project of the Latin American Common Market, to which my country gives its warm support with the same sincerity with which it has collaborated in all the other credit programs designed to strengthen our economy.

Mr. President, I feel a fervent desire to once again shake your friendly hand, here in your own noble country. Please receive the sincere affection of my people, whom I have the honor to serve with all the energies of my spirit.

Please accept, Mr. President, the testimony of my friendship, in the assurance that God will always bless the United States of America in its struggle for freedom, justice, and welfare for all people.

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

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