Remarks of President Reagan and President Roberto Suazo Cordova of Honduras Following Their Meeting

July 14, 1982

President Reagan. I'm pleased to welcome President Suazo of Honduras to the White House.

Honduras is a good and valued friend and partner of the United States. President Suazo's leadership has returned Honduras to democracy. And his government has embarked on a prompt and courageous effort to return the country to economic health.

We had a good discussion about the situation in his country and elsewhere in Central America. I told the President of our shock on learning of the recent terrorist attacks against power stations in Honduran territory, which cut off vital electricity to hospitals, water, and to other essential facilities. And faced with threats of this kind, the people of Honduras should be able to rely on their friends for help. And they can count us. The United States will provide assistance so that Hondurans can defend themselves from aggression.

President Suazo has been a strong voice for peace and democracy in Central America. He has put forward a plan to reduce tensions between states by agreement on the reduction of arms and the number of foreign advisers, and by international supervision of borders, airfields, and ports so that each country can be free of the fear of aggression from its neighbors. It's a concrete plan for peace which we fully support.

President Suazo also has explained frankly the seriously depressed economy of his country and the austerity measures he has adopted. The proposals before our Congress for the Caribbean Basin would substantially increase our ability to be of help to the people of Honduras.

I told President Suazo that I was sure the Congress would respond with strong, bipartisan support for a program that is obviously in the interest of both the United States and his country. I'm happy to say that he will be speaking to Members of the Congress on the Caribbean Basin Initiative while he is here.

Mr. President, I hope you return to Honduras confident that the United States -- it's people and its government -- remains a reliable friend and good neighbor. And that, Mr. President, is my personal pledge to you.

President Suazo. Ladies and gentlemen of the press, I would like to -- before I read my statement that I have prepared, I would like to make the following statement. And that is that there was according to the history books when Benjamin Franklin was walking out of Independence Hall, a woman in the crowd asked, ``What have you done? Have you created a republic or a monarchy?'' And this outstanding American patriot said, ``We have created a republic. But the important thing will be how to preserve it.''

And so, Mr. President, I want to first of all, thank you for your very kind invitation to visit here. And I want to say to the people of the United States of this great democracy of the north that we admire and we have great affection for the two centuries in which you've been able to conserve your republic here, this system of democratic government that you have, and have been able to project it on a worldwide basis and have become an unswerving bulwark in defense of freedom, of justice, and of democracy.

I have come to this country inspired by the best wishes -- of achieving understanding and friendship. I have come, thus, to work in favor of these purposes.

With all clearness, I have expressed to President Reagan what Honduras means in these critical times for Central America, for this hemisphere, and for the very development of present international relations.

I have reaffirmed to him that Honduras, governed by a government that is born out of the will of the people -- the free will of its people -- because of its geopolitical location, represents a fundamental element in order to achieve democratic stability in Central America by peaceful means and to achieve economic progress and social change. We have wanted this to be understood completely and objectively without any reticence.

I said when I took over as President of the Republic a little less than 6 months ago, and I repeat it now: Honduras does not seek, does not wish to become the arbiter of regional expectations, anguish, and hopes. This is not our role. But we do aspire, being faithful to the principles of nonintervention and self-determination, to be a factor of the balance and of concord in the search for a common destiny for Central America. With this conviction, we respect the others with a same firmness with which we will defend, and will earn, the respect for our democratic system of life and of government.

I bring with me on my visit to the United States, members of my government that are responsible for basic areas of public affairs, as well as members of our armed forces, in order that you will understand better that the Government of Honduras is as one and is asking for cooperation and requiring understanding in its struggle in favor of participatory and pluralistic democracy, for an authentic peace for the good of the entire region, and unrestricted respect for human dignity.

We have nothing to hide, because this is the conduct that is proper for a democratic government based on popular sovereignty. But we do have a lot to say to the leaders of this country, to those who run international organizations, as to the social and economic realities of Honduras and the solution of its problems, on the operation of its republican institution, and of the danger that they might be undermined if the menace of violence is not faced with a genuine spirit of cooperation in favor of peace, of progress, and democracy.

It is for this reason that we hope for the friendship; that the friendship offered to us be frank, realistic, and effective, as is the content of our own friendship towards you. The present and the future of Honduras depend, therefore, on a combination of two basic factors: self-effort and the honest cooperation from friendly nations and the international community.

I have come to this country, then, with this spirit in order to better guide the path of our conversations and our objectives. With this spirit, I bear witness also of my faith in the mass media and the organs of information to which I attribute the virtue of being bulwarks of objective truth, of constructive criticism, of freedom, and of peace.

Thank you very much.

Note: President Reagan spoke at 12:01 p.m. to reporters assembled on the South Grounds of the White House. The two Presidents had met in the Oval Office.

President Suazo spoke in Spanish, and his remarks were translated by an interpreter.