John F. Kennedy photo

Toasts of the President and President Prado.

September 19, 1961

Ladies and gentlemen:

I know that I speak on behalf of all of you in expressing our warm welcome to our distinguished guests from our sister Republic of Peru. We are delighted to welcome President Prado and Senora Prado for many reasons. One of the reasons is because I do not think that we in the United States have been as conscious as we should be of the common inheritance which we in this country have with Spaniards who came not only to the United States but also to Peru. We regard ourselves as descendant from mostly Europeans, but I think that that is only because we have failed to recognize the extraordinary adventure and courage of these Spaniards who came to Florida and Louisiana and Texas and all through the Southwest United States, and whose confreres also went and established their life in Peru. So that we feel, Mr. President, that we are also descendants. While from a mixed culture, we also, I hope, can claim that we are descendants in a sense from the same strains and cultures which have distinguished your own country.

We are delighted that your Ambassador is also here, occupying a special place in the life of our city and country. I have been looking forward to your retaining him long enough to permit him to succeed the Ambassador of Nicaragua. This is an honor which he wishes to have passed from him, but we expect to see him at every plane and welcoming the visiting dignitaries.

Also, Mr. President, we are glad to have you and the Minister here because, as I said, you really are in a sense the only leader of the free world who occupied a position of responsibility during the Second World War, and who now today at this most crucial moment occupies a position of commanding responsibility.

I do not know anyone in the free world, with the possible exception of General de Gaulle, who played a leading role in the Second World War who was a most active figure in mobilizing the Republics of this hemisphere in the fighting against Fascism, and who now bears the great responsibility, almost an years later.

As I said at the airport, you were if not the first among the very first of the democratically elected Presidents of the Latin American Republics who came to this country. It is a great pleasure that you should also come as the first state visitor from this hemisphere in this new administration.

And finally, Mr. President, may I say that your life has had a consistency which is not always true of those of us who follow our profession. You were a revolutionary figure in your youth. You spent almost a decade in exile in Paris. You were a leader in the fight against Fascism. You have been a leader in the fight against communism, and you are where you began: a defender of your country's stature, a defender of the cause in which we all believe. You stand for what you stood for as a young man in Peru. You stand for the Western World. You have in the Prado doctrine carried out the most important principles of the tics between the Atlantic Community and the American Republics.

Therefore, Mr. President, here tonight we honor you, as you were honored by President Roosevelt 20 years ago. We honor your country. We are delighted to have you in this year of 1961.

As my American colleagues will all testify, we have a particular appreciation for our friends, and therefore I hope that all of you will join me in drinking to the people of Peru and to the President of Peru and Senora Prado.

Note: The President proposed the toast at a state dinner at the White House.

President Prado responded as follows: "Mr. President, Mrs. Kennedy:

"Mrs. Prado and I wish to extend to you both our appreciation for this magnificent reception. Your warm hospitality is a reflection of the sincere cordiality with which the American people are receiving us.

"Your very kind invitation for a state visit to the country of Washington and Lincoln provides me with an opportunity to tell you, Mr. President, and through you to your fellow citizens, that my government is devoted to the democratic way of life. It is loyal to its international commitments and to the cause of peace. It remains allied with the United States of America.

"It is prepared to share in the common effort to raise the standard of living of the hemisphere, and to promote economic and social development, Furthermore, it is determined to contribute toward repelling aggression from abroad, and combating Communist infiltration in the Western Hemisphere. It is equally resolved to help countries in other continents resist firmly the daily threat of totalitarian domination.

"The identity of ideals, which you and I are defending, gives my visit all of the aspects of a frank and firm friendship. I am sure, Mr. President, that the results will be beneficial for both countries and will open a new stage of understanding and cooperation between the United States and Peru, and which will be ever closer and ever more fruitful.

"I thank you again, Mr. President, for your very kind and generous expressions about my personality. I thank you very much.

"Ladies and gentlemen, I propose a toast to the United States, to its increasing greatness within a free America, and to President Kennedy and to the charming First Lady."

During the President's remarks he referred to the Peruvian Ambassador, Fernando Berckemeyer, to succeed the Nicaraguan Ambassador, Dr. Guillermo Sevilla-Sacasa as Dean of the Diplomatic Corps; and to Arturo Garcia, Minister Counselor at the Peruvian Embassy.

John F. Kennedy, Toasts of the President and President Prado. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/235642

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