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Toasts of President Reagan and President Joao Baptista de Oliveira Figueiredo of Brazil at the State Dinner

May 12, 1982

President Reagan. President Figueiredo, Mrs. Figueiredo, distinguished guests, it's an honor and a privilege for Nancy and myself to welcome you to the White House.

The timing of this visit gives us an unexpected opportunity. Yesterday was Mrs. Figueiredo's birthday. [Applause] I hope you'll—well, you already have joined me in wishing her a very happy birthday.

Mr. President, our discussions this morning were satisfying and enjoyable. We spoke freely and frankly, expressing both agreement and disagreement in the same friendly candor. The personal contact we've made and the rapport that we've developed can only serve the interest of both our countries.

I had a particular interest in getting to know the President, not only because of my admiration for Brazil and its people but also because of the courage and the steady hand that he has demonstrated in guiding his country through an especially challenging period in Brazilian history. Mr. President, I have always maintained that when the job to be done is really rough, the horse cavalry can provide the man to do it. [Laughter] And your record bears me out. The President is of the third generation of horse cavalry in his country.

In your annual message to the Brazilian Congress this year, you restated your belief in those ideals that have guided your administration. "The democracy I envision," you said, "is dynamic and creative. In keeping with this—basic principles, such as private property and free enterprise, which are the bases of freedom itself, will serve the individual society and the ideal of distributive justice." Well, Mr. President, your commitment to liberty is most encouraging in a world that's grown darker, made so by totalitarian forces.

As President, you have provided your people with innovative and responsive government. In fact, while preparing for our meetings, I came across an idea Americans might do well to emulate. The Brazilian Government has a Cabinet Minister—and I believe he's with us here tonight—whose only job is cutting red tape and returning government programs to the private sector. His title is Minister of Bureaucratization-[ laughter]—De-Bureaucratization. Someone, I hope, is taking notes. [Laughter]

During the welcoming ceremonies this morning, much was said about the long history of friendship between our people. For 158 years our peaceful and amicable relations have been maintained without serious disruption, a tribute to the common sense and common interests of both our peoples. I mentioned our camaraderie during the Second World War, but most significant has been our good will in times of peace.

Mr. President, your visit coincides with one of the most serious challenges to peace this hemisphere has known. I think you know how hard the United States, linked by friendship to both countries involved in the South Atlantic conflict, worked to prevent war and then to bring peace. We all hope and pray that peace efforts now underway in New York will yield fruit.

For our part, the friendship of all countries in the hemisphere is precious to us just as Brazil's is. And we will work to make sure that the inter-American system on which the peace and justice of the hemisphere rest emerges from this time of trial not weakened, but reinforced.

Mr. President, we live in a world dramatically different from the way it was at the close of the Second World War. Every country is now dependent on the cooperation and good will of others. We don't long for days gone by, but instead look to the days ahead, because we see tremendous new opportunities unfolding every day. Let us remember the changing times have not altered the affection between us.

And now, may I ask you all to join me in a toast to the President and Mrs. Figueiredo and to the people of Brazil.

President Figueiredo. Mr. President, distinguished guests, thank you, Mr. President, for your kind words. I believe they convey appreciation for my country and underline the traditional friendship between our peoples.

As a Latin American nation, Brazil has, during the 500 years of its history, helped to build the West. Through the centuries, our contribution has varied, but we have never spared sacrifices, including human lives. Our dialog, Mr. President, has taken place within this broad context.

Brazil is also a developing country. Thus, we share the problems, goals, and aspirations of those states, which today account for most of mankind. This consideration was equally present during our conversations. This is a moment of deterioration of the international political life and of economic crises. My government believes it essential that the West, in which your country plays such a vital role, deploy its best possible efforts to reinforce its ties of mutual trust with the developing world.

I am convinced that the industrialized West should avoid both the temptations of isolationism and of adopting measures geared to its unilateral interests alone. The West should, rather, join in the dialog both on a global level—and I mean here the North-South negotiations—and on more localized political and economic problems and crises.

Mr. President, the opportunity of being in Washington to hold conversations with Your Excellency and to receive high government officials has been extremely valuable. We have exchanged views about problems that are a matter of concern to us and to countries with which we have close and friendly relations. On the one hand, we have reviewed the concrete difficulties with which we are faced. An on the other, we have looked into the wide prospects for reinforcing and diversifying our mutual ties. We have thus given new impetus to our bilateral relations.

I certainly wish to express my gratitude for the warm welcome extended to us by the American Government and people. I will return to Brazil convinced that we have laid the groundwork for the future development of relations that date back to the independence of our country. Such relations are guided by the principles of mutual understanding and respect, as well as by appreciation for the specific interests of each of our countries.

Mr. President, on my own and my wife's behalf, allow me to invite all those present to raise their glasses in a toast to the relations between Brazil and the United States and to your and Mrs. Reagan's personal happiness.

Note: President Reagan spoke at 9:48 p.m. in the State Dining Room at the White House. President Figueiredo spoke in Portuguese, and his remarks were translated by an interpreter.

Ronald Reagan, Toasts of President Reagan and President Joao Baptista de Oliveira Figueiredo of Brazil at the State Dinner Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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