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Toasts at the State Dinner for President Fernando Collor de Mello of Brazil

June 18, 1991

President Bush. Mr. President and Mrs. Collor and distinguished guests, friends of Brazil, it's a distinct privilege for Barbara and me to salute this extraordinary President, Fernando Collor de Mello. I'm glad that Indiana Jones and his wife could join us tonight. [Laughter]

I hear that, yesterday, en route from Brasilia to Washington, the President himself piloted the plane and even helped land it. I'm glad he didn't pull a barrel roll over the South Lawn. [Laughter] But all our Brazilian guests are here tonight, so I guess the passengers weren't too much in danger. Captain Collor got them here a half-hour early, and nobody lost their luggage -- [laughter] -- so things are going very well to start off our visit.

Our two countries were built on the aspirations of pioneers, immigrants, merchants, and workers, hardy people, filled with the spirit of enterprise and independence, enthusiasm and ingenuity. And they came to the Americas determined to achieve lives of freedom and opportunity. And this is our heritage, and we will continue to fulfill it.

The legacy we leave to our future generations must be an alliance of democratic institutions, free markets, and environmental stewardship. President Collor, I salute you, sir, for your efforts to invigorate your political system, your firm commitment to free people and free markets, your determination to raise environmental awareness both at home and abroad.

Our guests deserve to know about your trek to Brazil's scientific outpost in Antarctica. You moved around at such a pace that you almost lost one of your cabinet officers in a snowbank -- something like speed golf, only this was in Antarctica. [Laughter]

Your service to your nation expresses your faith that Brazil will move forward and that our nations will continue to be loyal friends and allies as we enter the 21st century.

In 1876, as the United States celebrated its Centennial, a certain foreign visitor was making his own headlines. Clad in a black suit and silk cap, your Emperor, Dom Pedro II, sailed into New York's East River as thousands of spectators thronged the docks, cheering and saluting. And then he did this: he traveled our country on our new railroad, over 9,000 miles from Maryland to Wyoming to California to Louisiana, causing one newspaper editor to remark that: "When he goes home, he will know more about the U.S. than two-thirds of the Congress." [Laughter] An exact quote.

Finally, on July 4th, in Philadelphia, Dom Pedro joined President Grant in opening our centennial exhibit. A hymn was written especially for our 100th birthday by the celebrated Brazilian composer Antonio Carlos Gomes. A tribute to your Emperor noted that, "no distinguished stranger ever came among us who, at the end of 3 months, seemed so little of a stranger and so much of a friend to the whole American people as Dom Pedro II of Brazil."

Today, Mr. President, you sir, carry on this friendship. Americans are proud to call you our friend. And on their behalf, let me propose this toast to the lasting friendship between the people of the United States and the people of Brazil, to the shared ideals that unite our nations and to a future of freedom, democracy, and prosperity all across the Americas. Once again, welcome, sir.

President Collor. Mr. President, Mrs. Bush, ladies and gentlemen, on behalf of Rosane and myself, I want to thank you for your kind words and your hospitality tonight and throughout our stay in Washington.

I remember our first meeting in January of last year when I visited as President-elect. Even though it was not on the schedule, you invited us to dine here in a friendly, informal atmosphere. I am pleased that this year's visit has confirmed that same cordiality shown us the night Rosane and I had the real surprise dinner at the White House. I also met the best-selling author that night. [Laughter] Her name is Millie. [Laughter]

Mr. President, whoever visits the United States encounters the fundamental values of Western civilization. Here are joined for the first time in history freedom and well-being. The determination with which I fight for the democratic development of my country is strengthened by the trips I make to the United States.

Brazil is one of the largest countries in the world in terms of the size of its area, population, and economy. We are a democratic, industrialized, and dynamic nation on the path of modernity and determined to overcome the problems of social inequalities. We want these facts recognized, not to increase our status but to increase our participation in world decisions and in contributions to mankind.

Brazil has restored democracy and strengthened its choice of a free market economy. These are the principles that form the foundation for my government's work towards modernizing our country and renewing our international relations.

Respect for human rights, preservation of nature, freedom to trade and to invest, the unvarying pursuit of peace -- these for us are not mere rhetorical expressions. They are the means we have chosen to rescue the millions of Brazilians who still live in poverty.

We are convinced that we have made the correct decision, but we are cognizant of the sacrifices involved. We do not want to share these sacrifices. History shows that the progress of any society is determined by its own efforts. Our desire to change and our willingness to come to grips with the costs of that change must be recognized.

The international community must respond to these national efforts with immediate and effective compensation. The system of nations undergoes rapid transformations, and significant advancements in political strategy must inspire similar daring and creativity in cooperation towards social and economic development.

In an interdependent world, peace will only be consolidated if there is a joint, balanced, and corresponsible effort toward the task of establishing a fair order between men and nations. This is the true destiny of democracies.

Mr. President, Mrs. Bush, ladies and gentlemen, Brazil and the United States are very close to each other. Geographically, our continents are joined. Historically, we belong to the same generation of independent nations. Philosophically, the highest value in both our cultures is placed on individual and group progress and on political and economic freedom. We have a long history of friendship and cooperation in common. But we must do more, much more, and we will do it.

Insofar as the world organizes itself into great continental blocs of economic power, it is clearly our responsibility to build a strong, united region. The partnership which we shall create and extend together with the other nations of Latin America will be fundamental for the future of this hemisphere. The opportunity, President Bush, is before us, within our grasp. Brazil and the United States have never traveled opposite paths. This is no longer enough. Let us now forge better paths together.

I sincerely hope that our reencounter inaugurates a new partnership between the people of our two nations. May God guide us, President Bush. Thank you.

And I would like to propose a toast for the health, the prosperity of the United States of America and its great President, Mr. Bush, and Mrs. Bush.

Note: President Bush spoke at 8:10 p.m. in the State Dining Room at the White House. In his remarks, he referred to President Collor's wife, Rosane. President Collor referred to the President's dog Millie and "Millie's Book as Dictated to Barbara Bush."

George Bush, Toasts at the State Dinner for President Fernando Collor de Mello of Brazil Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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