John F. Kennedy photo

Toasts of the President and President Paz at a Luncheon at the White House

October 22, 1963

Ladies and gentlemen:

I know that I speak on behalf of all of our countrymen in welcoming our guest of honor. I think the United States values its relations with the countries of Latin America because of historical reasons, cultural reasons, hemispheric ties, geography, and all the rest, probably more warmly than it does any of its obligations and responsibilities around the world.

I think that the effort which has engaged our attention in this decade, the attempt to demonstrate that it is possible to provide a steadily rising increase in the standard of living of the people under a democratic system, this effort represents the greatest challenge which the hemisphere ever faced and it is an effort that is going to require the most from all of us.

We are particularly glad to welcome the President of Bolivia because this has been his life work--in years of exile as well as years of the Presidency he has attempted to maintain a free country, national sovereignty, unimpaired, and at the same time provide--with the geography not always his friend--provide a better life for his people. This is a difficult challenge in this hemisphere. Wealth has not been distributed by nature as equitably as it might have been and, therefore, on those governments who are attempting to provide a breakthrough for their peoples, unusual burdens have fallen. But the President has been heavily engaged and committed in this task, and since the early riffles he has attempted to do what we would like to see done in every country in the hemisphere, including our own.

We recognize the obstacles that he and his people must overcome, but we are particularly proud to have him visit us to give us a chance to hear from him about what he is doing and what progress he is making, and also to indicate through him our respect for his people and our great interest in the relations, the inter-American system which governs our conduct toward each other.

We are glad also to have the members of your government, Mr. President, and I would ask all to join me in drinking to the wellbeing of the people of Bolivia and to the very good health of the President.

Note: The President proposed the toast at a luncheon at 1 p.m. in the State Dining Room at the White House. In his response President Paz expressed appreciation for President Kennedy's tribute to his efforts to better the life of his people.

The Bolivian revolution which began in 1952, he continued, accords with the broad policy of the United States in Latin America. Its first stage was to clear away obsolete and oppressive institutions. The second phase, now underway, he described as one of hard work, perhaps less colorful and spectacular, to raise the level of economic life of the Bolivian people. In this endeavor, President Paz observed, his nation must contend with certain unfavorable geographical factors. He likened the spirit of the Bolivian people to that of the American pioneers who fought and conquered the frontier, and voiced the appreciation of the Government and people of Bolivia for U.S. assistance.

Referring again, in closing, to his country's revolution, President Paz traced its genesis to the 18th century, when word went among the people that "there is a revolution taking place in the North, in the United States, and we should follow their example."

John F. Kennedy, Toasts of the President and President Paz at a Luncheon at the White House Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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