Jimmy Carter photo

Visit of President Lopez Portillo of Mexico Toasts at the State Dinner.

September 28, 1979

PRESIDENT CARTER. President Lopez Portillo, we welcome you and your lovely wife, Carmen, and your personal family and your official family back to the White House. Tonight we're determined to make the result of our toasts better than they were when I was in Mexico City. [Laughter]

You represent a great democratic nation, growing in world influence. And, Mr. President, your depth of insight and your breadth of vision match the past and the future achievements of your great country.

Your speech yesterday at the United Nations on the future of the world as it relates to energy was indeed one of the most profound and the most beautiful speeches I have ever read. This can lay the groundwork for discussions among all nations on Earth—as you said, democratic nations and socialist nations, developed nations and undeveloped nations which can lead to the resolution of one of the most difficult challenges of our time. This is typical of your personal leadership, Mr. President, and the leadership of your great country.

It's an honor and a privilege and an exciting experience for us to have you again in our country for serious discussions that will affect your people and mine.

Our nations are linked by both border and by destiny, by blood kinship and by a love of freedom. Both of us have thrown off colonial rule. Our ancestors know what it means to go from oppression to liberty. The relationships between our two countries have not always been happy, nor always peaceful. Some differences in the past, unfortunately, have even been settled by bloodshed. Some differences even in our own lifetime have been too long ignored or hidden. Now I believe that these troubled and uncertain times between our two countries are gone forever. If we lead well, we can write a new and a long history of peace, friendship, cooperation, and understanding between our people.

We are determined that our dialog will always be creative, that our negotiations will be frank and fair and mature and productive, that we will solve problems so that our people will have a better quality of life, and that together, through leadership, we can benefit the people of other nations.

When I had the honor to speak to the members of the Mexican Congress, I quoted the words of your great leader, Benito Juarez, that are inscribed on the walls of the Chamber of Deputies. The people of your country—through television, thanks to you—heard these words, but I would like the citizens of my country to hear them tonight here in the White House. Entre los individuos, como entre las naciones, el respeto aI derecho humano es la paz.

INTERPRETER. Between individuals, as between nations, respect for the rights of others is peace.

PRESIDENT CARTER. Very good. [Laughter] I might say that that is a perfect translation. [Laughter]

And in that spirit, ladies and gentlemen, that between nations and between individuals there can be a perfect peace, I would like to offer a toast—without wine, but with water, and we'll drink wine later on—to the President of Mexico, to the family which he has brought here, both official and personal, to peace between our two countries, to better understanding throughout the world, and to the people of Mexico.

[At this point, there was a brief pause as wine was served.]

If I could have your attention again, just to make sure that the toast is authenticated— [laughter] —I would like to again offer a toast to the President of a great country and to the people of Mexico. Welcome to our Nation.

PRESIDENT LOPEZ PORTLLO. Mr. President of the United States and Mrs. Carter:

For me, for my family and the members of my party, it is a great honor to meet again for the third time.

Our two peoples feel great security in the fact that since we are neighbors, the two Presidents of the two countries can meet as frequently as we do. To communicate is actually to open up the possibility of a peaceful coexistence, to live together. Communication is a guarantee of human coexistence.

For me, it is a great satisfaction to communicate with the President of the United States for the third time, to be able to once again witness the enormous values that he holds in himself as a human being- his generosity and his braveness. For me, President Carter, it is a great pleasure to see you again and a great honor to take up, once again, the very serious matters in the very open way in which we have dealt with them.

Today we could see that we were not mistaken when we decided upon a certain way of work between the two countries. It was a new system that had some problems in taking off, but which is now working very well. We were right, President Carter, and I am very happy that we were. We can now analyze in depth the bilateral problems that, perforce, have to come about when two countries are neighbors.

Life is risk: life is a solution of problems. As we say in my homeland, it is only the dead that do not make noise. [Laughter] Noise is life, and our two countries are very vital countries. They are both located in the same continent, but they have two different roots.

We are learning to live together. It is a great guarantee for us that we have this possibility of living together at a time when the head of the Government of this great country is a person like Mr. Carter. He has been very generous, as he always is, when he referred to the proposal that we made yesterday in my address before the General Assembly of the United Nations. In this proposal, we stand on opposite sides.

The United States is the powerful nation, perhaps the most outstanding expression of this kind of a nation in the world. Mexico is a developing nation. There is a border between us 3,000 kilometers long, and perhaps this is the best expression of the north-south relationship.

If we can understand the facts of our reality as a problem, if we can state our facts as a problem within this climate of mutual respect, which has prevailed today and which has prevailed always when we have met, we can then prove that we can win out, and we can transcend the differences between the north and the south, between developing and the developed. That is why I have high hopes that at the only universal forum that we men have been able to create, and which we sometimes tend to ignore as if it had just fallen upon us from Mars—since the real fact is that we created that forum ourselves and it will be whatever we want it to be, at that forum, no doubt, we can bring up problems that are of interest to all.

I am obsessed with the problem that I consider to be fundamental for the future of humanity, the problem of energy. We have this energy supply in Mexico. We have hydrocarbons, but we know that it is a depletable resource. I would like to transmit to you the need to create an awareness in all of mankind, so that they will understand that the generation that is represented here tonight is the generation that will see the end of the era of oil and will witness the beginning of a new era or the end of them all. With this thought in mind, we have come to the United Nations, and now we have come to the United States to present our reflections to Mr. Carter, in order to be able to win the political will of the United States.

We have many times said that to be strong means great responsibilities towards humanity. I am fully convinced that if the United States expresses its political will to put order into the world of energy sources, but within a framework of responsibility that will comprise all of humanity and not through bilateral agreements, bloc agreements, or unilateral struggles, in order to become independent—I am convinced that we can survive, that we can go ahead, that we can cross a bridge that connects one era with another.

However, sometimes I reflect, and I think that what is reasonable and simple is not always what is possible. Many times, unfortunately, humanity seeks absurd solutions. Perhaps it is because what is absurd does not require great discipline. But I feel that humanity can become disciplined, and it can go from one style of energy into another lifestyle which requires another energy source. And I insist, once again, if the United States expresses its political will in this direction, this will be made possible.

The objective is a very simple one. The proposition is a very simple one. Let us prepare to go from one era into another era by putting order into a resource, into the exploration, exploitation, distribution, and consumption of the resource we have now, and let us prepare to use another one later on, because if we do not, life will no longer be possible.

Mexico is willing to do whatever it can do. Before all the nations of the world, it has expressed its political will to take on a commitment. We consider that it is indispensable to commit ourselves. We must think about our children and our children's children and the world we're going to leave behind for them to live in. Will it be an orderly, peaceful world, or will it be the world of the apocalypse? Will it be a disorderly world? I believe that it is not a difficult selection. I forgive for insisting upon this idea once and again, I beg your forgiveness.

It is with this idea in mind that we have come to the United States in order to have the satisfaction to review, within the framework of that very intelligent instrument that was established by President Carter and myself, the state of our relationship, to seek your solidarity, to solve a problem that is everyone's problem, and to recommend what I would consider to be a very simple remedy.

During my political campaign, I insistently said that the solution is to be found in all of us. I believe, in the case of energy sources and ever so many other matters that are very serious for mankind, we must constantly think that the solution is to be found in all of us. To these values that are common to all of our democracies, the friendship of our peoples, with the hope that our communication lines will be always open between us, and to the happiness of the United States and, particularly, the Carter family, I ask you to join me in a toast.

Note: President Carter spoke at 8:15 p.m. in the State Dining Room at the White House. President Lopez Portillo spoke in Spanish, and his remarks were translated by an interpreter.

Earlier in the day, President Carter and President Lopez Portillo held a meeting in the Cabinet Room at the White House to discuss bilateral issues.

Jimmy Carter, Visit of President Lopez Portillo of Mexico Toasts at the State Dinner. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/248571

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