Remarks to the People of Colombia Prior to the President's Visit

November 29, 1982

At President Betancur's kind invitation, I will soon be visiting your nation. I'm looking forward to this visit very much. There's much I hope to learn and see in your beautiful country.

Our two countries have a great deal in common. We share a similar history, a similar form of government, and similar aspirations. We agree on many values and objectives. Both of our nations seek peace in the hemisphere, peace in the world, the growth of our economies, and the well-being of our people. We also share some problems, such as the impact of illicit narcotics on our societies.

We do not agree on every issue, but this is natural. Diversity is one of the great strengths of democratic societies. Democracy only requires that we work together to understand each other, that we listen to each other, and that we address our differences seriously with mutual respect. I promise to do that.

The peace of the hemisphere and the strength of the inter-American system are key issues for both of us. The United States is firmly committed to peace and security in your region. I take this commitment very seriously. When the peace of a democratic state is threatened, we're concerned. When that country is a close neighbor, we're doubly concerned.

Security can be threatened by military actions, but security is also threatened by economic distress. The Caribbean Basin Initiative will address the underlying economic and social problems that are retarding the development of the Caribbean Basin States. We in the United States warmly welcome Colombia's decision to participate in this initiative, and we greatly value your desire to contribute to the economic development and the strengthening of democratic values in the region.

We're impressed by your nation's success in maintaining a vigorous economy, even in a period of global recession. North Americans share your dedication to hard work, competition, and the creation of new wealth.

We in the United States respect and admire Colombia's strong commitment to democracy. Equally important, we respect Colombia's firm commitment to the rule of law as the guiding principle of international relations.

Our two countries, working together, can achieve a great deal for our hemisphere. This is what brings me to Colombia. I look forward to meeting many of you personally and seeing your beautiful country. I bring with me the best wishes of my own people to you, our neighbors to the south.

Note: The President's remarks were taped on November 22 at the White House for later broadcast on Colombian television.