Remarks on Departure for Latin America

November 30, 1982

Today we embark on an important journey to visit our friends in the south, in Latin America. This will be an important visit not only for the United States but for others, too. As friends and neighbors of the New World, we have a vital stake in each other's economies, security, and general well-being. This is true for Central America, the Caribbean, and for the entire hemisphere.

This will be a working visit. I'll be meeting with six Presidents, and I believe we have a lot to learn from one another. We certainly have a lot to discuss: the steps we all need to take to get our domestic economies back on the path to growth, to reduce the threats to peace and security, and to promote the continued development of democracy. This will be a journey for the cause of democracy and peace.

The four countries I'm visiting have all had elections in the past year. There's a strong democratic tide running in the Americas. It's important that democratic leaders maintain a dialog with one another and that our actions foster the ideals of democracy in a climate of peace.

I've long held that one of the highest priorities of this administration would be to improve our relations with our neighbors in this extraordinary hemisphere. We are, as you know, most fortunate, for this half of the globe is the source and repository of many of mankind's noblest dreams. Our Caribbean Basin Initiative is a reflection of our commitment to sustaining those moral visions -- or noble visions. And when our neighbors are in trouble, their troubles inevitably become ours.

I'm pleased that the Congress approved the aid portion of my CBI request in September. I also attach great importance to the critical foreign assistance package for fiscal year 1983, which is currently before the Congress. But we need more than just an injection of critically needed funds. We need the long-term incentives encompassed in the trade and tax provisions of the CBI legislation. In my meeting with the Republican leadership this morning, I underlined the importance that I attach to enactment, as soon as possible, of the trade and tax portions of the CBI, and they agreed.

I've spoken with Dan Rostenkowski, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, who recently traveled to the Caribbean at our request. He saw firsthand the positive impact that the CBI would have on the economies and the societies of this area, and he, too, promised to help during the final days of this session.

Our trip is an opportunity to demonstrate firsthand our concern for our neighbors. Whether our nations be of the north or the south, we can work together as partners to pursue the dreams we share. We will strengthen the democratic bond, stimulate new growth and opportunity, and promote the sacred cause of peace. That's the purpose of the journey.

And now, I'd better quit talking and start walking, or the journey will be late. Thank you.

Note: The President spoke at 11:31 a.m. to reporters and members of the White House staff assembled at the South Portico of the White House.