Jimmy Carter photo

Visit to Panama Remarks at the Cinco de Mayo Plaza.

June 16, 1978

General Torrijos, dear friends of Panama, leaders from the other countries:

It is a great day for the people of Panama and the people of the United States. Thank you very much. Thank you all.

This day marks the beginning of a new partnership between Panama and the United States. The new treaties embody our mutual commitment to work together to assure that the Panama Canal shall always remain open, secure, and accessible to the vessels of all nations.

With the help of the five great American democracies whose leaders are with us today, Panama and the United States reached an agreement. In the process we breathed new life into old principles-principles of peace, nonintervention, mutual respect, and cooperation.

It is easy to honor these principles in theory. What our two countries have done is much harder and much more meaningful. We have made them the basis for action. We have shown that even great changes in international relations-changes that involve deep emotions and powerful material interests—can be accomplished through putting these principles to work.

That is why the significance of our joint achievement goes far beyond the special concerns of the United States and Panama. That is why I believe that we stand on the threshold of a new era of inter-American understanding and cooperation.

Let us now apply these principles to the overriding concerns of our hemisphere-peace, human rights and dignity, and economic development.

Let us resolve anew to settle the remaining territorial disputes in our hemisphere through peaceful negotiation. Let us work together to bring into effect the Treaty of Tlatelolco, which bans nuclear weapons from Latin America.

Let us advance the cause of human dignity and build a hemisphere in which citizens of every country are free from torture and arbitrary arrest, free to speak and write as they please, free to participate in the determination of their own destiny.

Let us build a fairer, more cooperative international economy, one which fosters social justice and helps the world's poor lift themselves out of misery.

As we move toward these goals, we will need not new slogans, but a new spirit. In the peaceful process of negotiating the treaties, we have shown the world a spirit which recognizes and respects the rights of others and seeks to help all people to fulfill their legitimate aspirations with confidence and dignity. That spirit must continue to bind us together in the years to come—the people of Panama and the United States and the people of all the Americas who are working to bring into being a hemisphere free from war, free from want, and free from any oppression of human liberty.

Thank you all.

Note: The President spoke at 6 p.m. at the plaza in Panama City in response to remarks by General Torrijos. He spoke in Spanish, and the translation of his remarks follows the transcript.

Jimmy Carter, Visit to Panama Remarks at the Cinco de Mayo Plaza. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/248758

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