John F. Kennedy photo

Remarks of Welcome at the White House to President Villeda of Honduras

November 30, 1962

Mr. President:

I want to express our very warm welcome to you and to your wife, who has been our guest before. I think that the people of this country are aware and certainly in recent days have become more aware of how strongly you personally, as well as the people of your country, are committed to the cause of freedom.

The cause of freedom is under attack in many parts of the world and certainly its external enemies proceed with a good deal of vigor and strength. We also have internal enemies and those are poverty, and illiteracy, and disease. We attempt, together, to combat both of these enemies; abroad by building our strength, making clear our commitments, fulfilling those commitments, and at home we fight these internal enemies with the great concentrated social effort of your Government, the effort of this Government, the mutual effort through the Alliance for Progress, the effort of the Central American countries through their Common Market.

It seems to me that in recent years this great hemispheric drive for a better life for our people, under a system of freedom, is meeting new strength, but the problems are many and in some degree they increase faster than our strength. A good deal needs to be done.

I want you to know, Mr. President, that the United States is doing and will do everything to play its proper role as a strong believer in not only the good neighbor policy, but the sense of partnership and alliance and an alliance firmly devoted to progress under freedom.

So we are particularly glad to have you here, Mr. President, because you have demonstrated, in your leadership of your country, your strong commitment to these common goals, your firm belief in freedom. One of the purposes of your visit here is to address those who still work for freedom for their own country of Cuba.

So we are very proud to have you, Mr. President. We're delighted that you are accompanied by Senora Villeda, who has played a most active role on behalf of the social progress of her own country. You could not come at a more appropriate time and we are delighted in welcoming you, as our first visitor from the countries to the south of us who has come in the last 5 or 6 weeks, to tell you how much we have appreciated the strong support we have received from you and your fellow Presidents of the free Republics of Central and Latin America. Mr. President.

Note: The President spoke at 10:40 a.m. on the South Lawn at the White House where President Ramon Villeda Morales was given a formal welcome with full military honors. President Villeda responded as follows:

Mr. President and Mrs. Kennedy:

As President of Honduras, a very small country in Central America, I and my wife are extremely happy to be here. We are thrilled as citizens of this hemisphere, first, and we are proud as leaders of a small country.

Yesterday we arrived in Williamsburg, a wonderful colonial city 300 years ago. Its history, its buildings, its people represent all of the traditions and values for which the United States stands, and one of these main values is independence. You helped us in our independence movements and 300 years later I have been very thrilled in visiting this important symbol of American freedom.

I am very proud to be in Washington to talk with a leader of this great country of this democracy which is the most important and the first one in the free world. We all have problems and our problems concern each and every one of us. There is no such thing as a small country and a large country. All countries are juridically and socially equal under the framework of equality under law.

Both of us have been fighting against the disease, illiteracy, and other scourges that have afflicted our countries. I wish to congratulate President Kennedy for his vigorous and strong leadership in his philosophy of social and economic development as he proposed it for the Alliance for Progress.

It is indeed an alliance and its main objective is indeed progress and, finally, to achieve liberty for the people of our countries so that they may live in freedom. Peace is necessary for freedom while subversion and rebellion will only lead to anarchy and to the enslavement of peoples. This is why, in 2 days, I will address the Cuban people in exile. I have been invited by the Medical Association of Cuba and I will express these very same feelings. We will continue to struggle against communism everywhere.

President Kennedy and Mrs. Kennedy, in the name of my wife and in my own name, I wish to thank you very much for this very warm welcome.

John F. Kennedy, Remarks of Welcome at the White House to President Villeda of Honduras Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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