Jimmy Carter photo

The President's Trip to Latin America and Africa Remarks on Arrival at the White House.

April 03, 1978

THE VICE PRESIDENT. Mr. President, if you'll pay attention here— [laughter] — Mr. President, Rosalynn, Amy, we're delighted to welcome you home after a most successful journey to Latin America and to Africa.

Mr. President, this afternoon's papers featured a dramatic, front-page photograph of you, from Africa, with hand raised and four fingers extended. An interdepartmental task force was convened to determine what it meant. [Laughter] It returned with a split opinion. A few said that you were confirming the number of countries that you had visited, but most thought you were telling me to hold my remarks below 4 minutes, and I shall do so. [Laughter]

Mr. President, your trip to Venezuela, to Brazil, Nigeria, and Liberia underscored your desire to cooperate more closely with the newly influential countries of Latin America, Africa, and Asia. And certainly the marvelous demonstration of affection witnessed by all of us in Monrovia today showed their desire for that same friendship and cooperation with us.

On your trip you once again reemphasized the fundamental American values of human rights, of individual liberty, majority rule, and economic justice.

Mr. President, we are delighted by the success of your journey and pleased to welcome you home again with us. Welcome back.

THE PRESIDENT. Well, as the Vice President said, this has been a good trip. But it's been a long trip, and we're glad to be home.

I said when I left this spot last week that the trip was designed to show our .own great Nation's adaptation to a changing world. And in that way it has been a great success, I think, for the United States.

In Venezuela we strengthened our good relationship which has existed for a long time with that country. And we worked with Venezuela to develop a more cooperative approach for the future between the industrialized, developed nations like our own and the poor nations of the world.

In Brazil, one of our close allies over the years, we reestablished the understanding of the long-term, common interests and friendship between our people. And we stressed, perhaps in different ways, our mutual concern about nuclear nonproliferation and human rights.

In Nigeria, a great, new, emerging leader and the most populous nation in Africa, we brought our relationship to the best point ever and showed our essential agreement about the troubled spots in Africa.

And in Liberia, the oldest democracy in Africa and an ancient ally of ours, we reaffirmed a very special friendship for a nation that was founded in the name of freedom, as was our own country.

This trip and the one I made 3 months ago demonstrate our Nation's preparation for dealing with the world of the future. The countries that I have visited in Africa and Asia, in Latin America, in the Middle East will be more and more important to us with every passing year. We must be sure that we understand their interests and that they understand ours.

After seeing these nations firsthand, it's impossible to doubt that they can be very important to us and that our fate and the fate of the people in those countries are closely related and that the best way to guarantee our own well-being in a world of peace and prosperity, respect for individual human rights, is to cooperate in the well-being of these friends and neighbors of ours throughout the Earth. Every step we take toward more constructive engagement around the world is an investment in our own future.

And, most of all, I was proud as an American at the warmth of our reception. I think the day of the so-called ugly American is over. I never saw, among the hundreds of thousands of people who welcomed us, a single gesture or sign or poster or indication of anything except friendship. This is quite different from what it has been in the past. The friendly crowds that greeted us everywhere showed an affection for the United States, based not so much on our country's power or even our accomplishments but on what we stand for in the world.

At every stop in this journey I said to the people there that I was coming to greet a great nation, which was true. But nothing makes me prouder than the truly great Nation it is my privilege to represent.

Thank you very much. It's good to be home.

Note: The exchange began at 9:40 p.m. on the South Lawn of the White House.

Jimmy Carter, The President's Trip to Latin America and Africa Remarks on Arrival at the White House. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/244889

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