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Visit of President Carlos Andres Perez of Venezuela Remarks of the President and President Perez at the Welcoming Ceremony.

June 28, 1977

PRESIDENT CARTER. This morning we have a great honor paid to our Nation by the visit of President Perez of Venezuela.

In our hemisphere, the nation of Venezuela has earned the great admiration of all those who believe in freedom and in the open, democratic processes of government.

President Perez represents a country which has set an example for many others in its firm and unswerving commitment to the proposition that the people of a nation should be the ones with universal suffrage and complete participation in an open and free electoral process to choose the leaders of that country.

But his influence has extended far beyond the borders of his beautiful and great nation. Because of his dynamism and his great leadership qualities, President Perez has become an active and effective spokesman for the Third World nations and one who can truly represent the highest aspirations of all the nations in Latin America.

His commitment to the basic principles of human rights, individual freedom, and liberty were vividly demonstrated recently at the Organization of American States conference at Grenada, when he and his people became leaders in pursuing these hopes for this hemisphere.

He has also espoused and has pursued his commitment to a reduction in expenditures for weapons and in trying to lay the groundwork for more peaceful relationships among the nations of the world.

He has also taken a strong stand against the proliferation of atomic explosives throughout the world and has joined with us and others in espousing the principles of the Tlatelolco Treaty, which prohibits the deployment of any nuclear explosives in the southern part of this hemisphere.

Venezuela has been a leader and was recently cochairman of the conference which tries to establish better relationships between the developed nations of the North and the developing nations of the South. He leads a country which has been blessed with great natural resources---oil among them--and they have been leading suppliers of that precious fuel to our country for many years.

During the 1973 embargo of our country by some members of OPEC, Venezuela maintained their staunch friendship to our country, and the interruption of oil to our shores was not part of their policy. And this past winter, when we faced a particular shortage because of the severity of our weather, Venezuela voluntarily increased their total export of oil and fuel from their country to meet our needs. At the same time, he's been strongly committed to the quality of the environment and to the careful conservation of his nation's precious oil and other fuel products.

We all know and admire the early and innovative commitment to freedom by the great liberator Simon Bolivar, and in more recent times, the great leadership of Don Romulo Betancourt of Venezuela. And I think I can say without any doubt that President Perez continues in this admirable mold of leadership which has come from the great nation and our close friend, the country of Venezuela.

Recently my wife, Rosalynn, was welcomed to your country, Mr. President, in the most hospitable way by you and your wife, Blanca. We deeply appreciate the personal friendships that have already been formed between your family and my own.

Senor Presidente, esta es su casa [Mr. President, this is your house.]

PRESIDENT PEREZ. Mr. President Carter, I must begin my words expressing to you my deep thanks and that of my wife for this cordial invitation that allows us to visit the great North American nation. I am a Latin American voice that, from Venezuela, comes to express an unreserved solidarity with your policy of great ethical substance addressed to affirm the essential values of the human being.

Many years have passed since nations, small and weak nations, have heard a voice rise from a great nation to tell the world that over the human values is the human being, the defense of his dignity, of the human rights. Those words have reconciliated us with other attitudes that we have not shared with this great nation, and they remind us of the voice of two other great Presidents, Franklin Delano Roosevelt and John Fitzgerald Kennedy, who are dear to the affection of all Latin Americans.

In my country--I mean all of Latin America, no matter what kind of governments our countries have, the people are feeling the warmth and the sincerity of these good words that constitute themselves in a commitment to make of America, of the New World, the true continent of freedom.

I have come, Mr. President, to exchange ideas with you and your officials with mutual respect, and as countries that do to each other the same treatment. Certainly, we will find points of coincidence very important within the global politics that are discussed today in the great forums of the world. Likewise, we are going to deal with matters that are essential for us, the relations between the United States and the Latin American community.

I already had the honor and the very pleasant opportunity to hear from the lips of your wife, in Caracas, many aspects of the talks that we are going to hold. Mrs. Carter brought the testimony of the friendship and admiration of the Venezuelan people and of all of the peoples of Latin America for the people of the United States and for the Government of President Carter.

For our hemispheric countries, the best perspectives are open. I sincerely believe that this is an historical moment without comparison, when the United States is going to assume a leadership role--which we do appreciate--not that of economic or military importance, but that of the great values of mankind.

Mr. President, Mrs. Carter, my wife and I in this first moment of our meeting give to you our thanks, and we express to you that beyond the formalities of protocol there exists a sincere friendship that will join in brotherhood the peoples of Latin America with the peoples of the United States.

Note: The President spoke at 10:39 a.m. on the South Lawn of the White House. President Perez spoke in Spanish, and his remarks were translated by an interpreter.

Jimmy Carter, Visit of President Carlos Andres Perez of Venezuela Remarks of the President and President Perez at the Welcoming Ceremony. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/244082

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