Toasts of President Reagan and President Salvador Jorge Blanco of the Dominican Republic at the State Dinner

April 10, 1984

President Reagan. President and Mrs. Jorge Blanco, ladies and gentlemen, it's a pleasure to have you as our guests this evening.

President Jorge Blanco and his lovely wife represent a country rich in history, blessed with natural beauty, and filled with creative and robust people. This morning at the welcoming ceremony, I mentioned the great accomplishments of your people. And, Mr. President, you can be rightfully proud of your country's freedom.

Eugenio Maria de Aostos, a writer from the last century, truly a man of the hemisphere, once wrote, ``No one knows better the meaning of justice and freedom than those who have lived under despotism.'' Well, such is the case of those who lead the Dominican Republic today. In our lifetime, through your efforts and those of good people like you, the Dominican Republic has been rescued from tyranny and brought safely into the family of free nations. Your personal commitment to the high ideals of liberty, Mr. President, is exemplary.

There can be no greater vocation for any statesman than to lead his people to a more free, just, and humane society. In pursuit of that vocation, you have set a standard of statesmanship and patriotism which is a model not only for the Caribbean but for the Western Hemisphere -- indeed, for the leader of any country seeking to create a climate of dignity and freedom in which the human spirit can flourish.

This is not to suggest that under a free government there are no problems. One of the perplexing difficulties, as we're both fully aware, Mr. President, is ensuring economic growth and progress. World events totally beyond our control can dramatically change the rules of the game. Such was the case with energy costs during the last decade. Maintaining healthy economic growth in the face of rising energy costs has been a major challenge to democratic governments throughout the world. Progress can no longer be taken for granted, but, instead, requires constant diligence and a commitment to the long-run well-being of a country.

Yet there's no reason that, working together, free people cannot triumph over adversity today just as we have in the past. Juan Pablo Duarte, the great Dominican patriot, said it well: ``Let us work for the country,'' he wrote, ``for in so doing we work for ourselves and for our children.''

President Blanco, your government is today ensuring a better tomorrow. You're meeting the challenge head on, working diligently to rebuild your economy through fiscal responsibility and courageous reform in public administration. You've improved your country's business and investment climate. And by stressing the importance of the private sector, and by providing practical incentives for investment, you've made certain the Dominican Republic will be part of the economic upsurge now taking place in the United States, as it spreads throughout the global economy.

Some of you may not be aware that President Blanco, in his country, has established enterprise zones to encourage investment and commerce. Mr. President, perhaps you've got some tips on how to get great ideas like that -- [laughter] -- through the legislative process here in Washington. Seriously, though, Mr. President, the strength of Dominican democracy have not gone unnoticed by our Congress. Your support and the example of a strong Dominican democracy deserve credit for helping assure the passage of the Caribbean Basin Initiative. You proved that there is a better way, and it works.

Together we can show the world that, indeed, freedom works. Together -- well, it's up to us. President Jorge Blanco, we honor you tonight for the part that you and your country are playing in the cause of human freedom.

Now, if you will all join me in a toast to President and Mrs. Jorge Blanco, and to the Dominican Republic.

President Jorge Blanco. President Reagan, Mrs. Reagan, ladies and gentlemen:

This dinner will be permanently engraved in my memory, as it will be in that of my wife and of the members of our delegation. Henceforth, we can include it among the most stellar moments of our lives.

Over and above protocol, we feel the warmth and affection of President Reagan, his gracious wife, Nancy, and the high officials of this nation who receive us as emissaries of the democracy which we represent with genuine pride.

We are pleased to see once again that the Dominican democracy is respected and admired by the great democracy of the United States of America. We are both associated with and agree upon the defense of the human values which gave birth to our respective nations. We share a common past of ideals and principles, and a present full of responsibilities which must contribute to the building of a more promising future for our people.

I appreciate your recognition of the democratic vocation of our people and of the firm resolve of the government we are fortunate to head to fight tenaciously, with unswerving faith and will, for maintenance of a democratic system, in spite of the adversities of an unprecedented world economic crisis which affects all of the international community, but more so the developing countries.

From the very moment I took office I set a clear and precise target: to restore the economy and the finances of the Dominican nation to health. We are devoting major efforts and sacrifices to this unpostponable objective, conscious of the fact that a house in order and the adoption of policies that are conducive to sustained development and of reform measures that will ensure a true system of social justice, are indispensable prerequisites for the strengthening and full effectiveness of our democratic institutions.

The Presidency of a country, be it large or small, is a forge where leadership is hammered out, in the awareness of the resources and aspirations of their peoples. That is why we do not hesitate to support and defend the generous program of the Caribbean Basin Initiative, which has already become reality and serves as a means to expand our markets, at the same time that it constitutes a great stimulus for private enterprise, a constant and necessary engine for the development of our societies.

I sincerely hope that our talks will lead to appropriate and fair solutions to common problems and will guarantee positive achievements for the development of our economies and the prosperity of our nations.

[At this point, President Jorge Blanco departed from the prepared text of his remarks. He then proposed a toast as follows.]

Let us drink a toast to the personal good fortune of the President and his distinguished wife. Let us drink a toast to the happiness of our respective peoples.

Interpreter. There was a part of the President's remarks that were improvised, and I'd like to transmit, to those of you who didn't understand, the English -- what he said.

``President Reagan, I have been deeply moved by your mention of Eugenio Maria de Aostos and Juan Pablo Duarte. Eugenio Maria de Aostos was the teacher par excellence of all successive generations of Dominicans as the years have gone by. Juan Pablo Duarte, together with other two great patriots, was the founder of our modern republic. But the mention of the name of Juan Pablo Duarte here in this room at the White House is an extraordinary recognition of the ideals that have shaped our nation throughout the years, and which led to the independence movement which led, in turn, to our independence declared on the 27th of February of 1844.

``Into this beautiful room have come men. They have come to share the warmth with the beautiful ladies who've accompanied them, and with all of their beautiful dresses. And this, undoubtedly, will be an indelible part of the recollection that we have of this evening. But above all, Mr. President, the warm welcome that you have given us, on behalf of the great American democracy of which you are a worthy leader and to which you bring so much prestige, fills every one of the aspirations that we might have had when we came to this city. And the fruitful results of our conversations will be the golden touch that will accompany us upon our return to our country.''

Thank you.

Note: President Reagan spoke at 9:52 p.m. in the State Dining Room at the White House. President Jorge Blanco spoke in Spanish, and a text of his remarks in English was provided to the dinner guests. As printed above, the remarks follow that text, except where the modification was made by President Jorge Blanco's interpreter.