Lyndon B. Johnson photo

Remarks of Welcome at the White House to President Trejos of Costs Rica

June 04, 1968

President Trejos and Mrs. Trejos, Secretary Rostow, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen:

President Trejos, Mrs. Johnson and I welcome you and Mrs. Trejos here to Washington as very old friends of the United States of America.

Twenty-one years ago you were a student here with us. Eleven years ago you were here as our guest at the Department of State. Today you come here as the guest of all of the people of the United States.

We Americans know, Mr. President, that your country is famous for many qualities, but three above all:

--the fragrance of your coffee,

--the beauty of your women,

--the vitality of your democracy.

Fortunately, it is the virtue of democracy that men are not compelled to choose between such blessings. At least that is true in Costa Rica.

Other nations, our own included, may well envy the advanced stage of your democracy-where men count it as their inalienable right to enjoy a good cup of coffee-and to always have it served by a very beautiful woman.

In this time of worldwide ideological turmoil, the concepts of freedom, self-determination, representative democracy all have been much distorted.

For a nation to label itself a democracy is not enough. One must really look behind the label to determine the genuineness of the real product.

Costa Rica is one place where I believe the label fits the product.

Your record of elections and peaceful transfers of power is very plain for all of the people of the world to see.

President Trejos, your country has more schools than barracks. Your country has more teachers than soldiers. You devote onethird of your entire national budget to education. The payoff is in your high level of literacy and your success in building a sound economy with real social justice.

A little over a year ago you will recall we were together at Punta del Este. We measured the advances under the Alliance for Progress. We measured the advances against the goals that we seek.

We all agreed that we still have a long way to go, but we all know that we are really moving.

In Costs Rica you are making the Alliance work. It is reflected in the high priority that is given to education, in your more than 6 percent increase in farm production last year, in your industrial growth which has averaged 11 percent per year during the past several years.

Mr. President, it is dramatically demonstrated in the 400 percent increase in regional trade achieved by Costa Rica and its partners of the Central American Common Market.

These figures tell a story of real progress. It is a record that cheers all of your friends, Mr. President, in the United States, and should cheer all friends of democracy throughout the world.

Mr. President, we are glad that you have come. We want you to feel at home in this city. This First House of the land is your house.


Note: The President spoke at 12 noon on the South Lawn at the White House, where President Jose Joaquin Trejos Fernandez was given a formal welcome with full military honors. In his opening words he also referred to Eugene V. Rostow, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs.

President Trejos responded as follows:

Mr. President, thank you. Thank you very much for your kind words so graceful and so inspired.

It is a great privilege and an honor for me to bring you the message of greetings, of friendship, and of affection on the part of the people and of the Government of Costa Rica.

It is a message that comes from a hard-working people that bases its means of education as its best hope for development and progress.

It is a fraternal greeting coming from a people that expresses sincere friendship to the people of the United States, not only because it believes that geography has marked a common destiny for all of the nations of the American Continent, but also because it shares with its people the same ideals of liberty, of justice, of respect for the great dignity of the human being, and of love for the democratic standard, according to which the people can freely choose the government that they wish to carry out their own aspirations.

This message comes also from a people that considers that these ideals are just as alive today as they were during the American Revolution. In the restless world of our time, it is up to us to give these ideals new vigor and adapt them to the circumstances of the era in order that they continue reaching the heart of the patriots of each nation as they have done in the western world--these humanist ideals throughout the centuries.

I also bring you, Mr. President, the affection of the people of Costa Rica, that not only supports these ideals which they share with the people of the United States, but live these ideals fully and effectively.

I am also a bearer of the aspirations of a country that is working for a larger amount of dignity in the life of each family.

So we are working for a larger degree of dignity in the life of each Costa Rican family and together with all of the people of Latin America, hope that we will give a new impetus to a greater degree of fairness in the economic relationships in the contemporary world.

President Johnson and Mrs. Johnson, may God preserve forever the best attributes of the people of the United States and give to you and to your distinguished family the greatest happiness.

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

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