Remarks at the Welcoming Ceremony for President Leon Febres-Cordero Ribadeneyra of Ecuador

January 14, 1986

President Reagan. President and Mrs. Febres-Cordero, other distinguished guests, it gives me great pleasure to welcome you as friends of the United States and as friends of human freedom.

Ecuador's return to elected government in 1979 was one of the first waves of a rising tide of liberty witnessed throughout the hemisphere. President Febres-Cordero, we have watched with admiration as you and your government have strived to come to grips with the serious threats to Ecuador's economic, political, and social well-being. You are an articulate champion of free enterprise and those democratic ideals that are close to the hearts of the American people. All those who love liberty are impressed with your courage and responsibility in attacking not just the symptoms but the underlying causes of misery, poverty, and unemployment. Mr. President, by protecting your country's good name and creditworthiness, by avoiding simplistic solutions and quick fixes, by unleashing the economy, building forces of the marketplace, you are leading your country to a better tomorrow.

Your uncompromising faith in political freedom is consistent with your support of economic freedom. We applaud your efforts to bolster the democratic institutions of your country. We also applaud your moves to encourage private sector growth and invigorate your economy. The United States stands by your side, and we will continue to do all we can to help. When I say the United States stands with you, that is especially true when it comes to your determination to defeat the twin menace of international terrorism and narcotics trafficking. You've put yourself on the line against these vile and insidious forces. Your courage and integrity and that of your people have not gone unnoticed here. Drug traffickers and terrorists are the enemies of all decent people, and the United States is proud to be your ally in this brave struggle.

In a speech to your countrymen, Mr. President, you advised your citizens to ``stand up when it is a matter of defending honor and freedom.'' Well, that is exactly what Ecuador under your leadership has been doing. Few countries in the hemisphere have made the tough public stand against dictatorship, left and right, as has Ecuador. As you have pointed out on several occasions, democracy and the protection of human rights is the surest way to peace as well as freedom. It is no mere coincidence that those few nations controlled by oppressive Communist regimes can be tied to so much of the turmoil and bloodshed that is plaguing this hemisphere. It should surprise no one that the rifles used to take over a court building and murder judges in a democratic nation can be traced to a country controlled by those who don't believe in freedom, human rights, or democracy. Democracies can no longer afford to ignore this unfortunate fact of life.

Your voice, Mr. President, is doing much to alert the freedom-loving people of this hemisphere to this continuing danger. The path of democracy, peace, and free enterprise is often difficult; but with courage, moderation, and wholehearted commitment, you're leading your people down that path. In doing so, you are not only building a stronger Ecuador, but you're contributing to a more peaceful and secure hemisphere. The dream of freedom and opportunity is the property of no one country. It is the birthright of every American, and that means every person from the North Slope of Alaska to the tip of Tierra del Fuego. We are all Americans.

And today we are proud to welcome you, President Febres-Cordero, as the leader of free people, as a man with a deep and abiding conviction, and as a statesman we respect and admire. President Febres-Cordero, welcome.

President Febres-Cordero. President Reagan, Mrs. Reagan, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, for my wife and me, it is a great satisfaction to be received on this state visit by you, Mr. President, and by your wife. It is always a pleasure for a President of Ecuador to visit the United States. The long tradition of friendship between our peoples and the identification with the same democratic principles makes the return of an Ecuadorian chief of state to this great country not only enjoyable but also stimulating.

The fact that the United States of America and the rest of our continent share the same historic goals is not a recent phenomenon. It began with simultaneous battles to obtain political independence, and it continues today with the present defense of democracy, of liberty, and of individual rights -- a defense which has meant a long series of shared efforts. During moments of particular anguish in international relations, from that era of a struggle to claim the value and use of the American wealth from commercial monopolies until the tremendous confrontation of the Second World War, our peoples have been united, and our governments have enjoyed very strong cooperation. This historical path becomes especially important when a government in the United States headed by you, Mr. President, coincides with an Ecuadorian government headed by me, both working toward common goals: to vigorously restore to our peoples the pride of belonging to their respective countries; to revitalize economies that have suffered setbacks; to return to the individual and groups the right to carry out initiatives without the need for bureaucratic interference, with the understanding that the state exists to serve the individual, not to be served by the individual.

The cooperation between our peoples and governments, and international cooperation in general, are indispensable to confront the problems the world is experiencing. The goal of that remarkable man of our times, His Holiness John Paul II, of making 1986 the year of peace requires us to adopt important attitudes. Peace must come from the fact that between human beings there exists the willingness to cooperate and that hope grows within every human being. Peace must be based on the concept of justice, law, and harmony.

Peace, unfortunately, nowadays has great enemies: the savagery of terrorism, which in its evil neither respects nor distinguishes among people, places, or circumstances; its ally, drug trafficking, which corrupts and destroys physical and moral integrity. Governments, which consider that man is at the center of creation and that man is the main act of history, should cooperate to combat these crimes against humanity. Peace has also another enemy: the agents of war, the ideological motivators of aggression, which contribute to the unjustifiable arms buildup. It will only be possible to have true and enduring peace in our world when, through the willingness of all men, a disarmament process may start in the world.

My country, Mr. President, is a country with a pacific tradition. Neither violence nor the abuses of power that affect certain parts of the world have ever taken root in our land. We practice a democratic system which we seek to expand and to perfect, since we believe that it allows for the best social organization. It is only by prevalence of democratic regimes that stem from the sovereign will of our people that our continent and the whole world will be able to enjoy a true and enduring peace. We are careful of service of the standards of human rights generated by national and international laws. There is no conflict, we believe, between respecting those rights and exercising a serene but determined authority. To use power to guarantee to the 9 million Ecuadorians who have the right to work, to be educated, to live fully is an imperative which coincides perfectly with the fight against lawlessness; above all, that lawlessness, which in its cruelest form, terrorism, undermines society with the greatest savagery and cruelty. In no way does it deny criminals the protection provided to them by the law, but neither does it allow them to go unpunished for their crimes.

Mr. President, Ecuador has met its international obligations in an effort which has been widely recognized by the international press and the world financial community. We have successfully rescheduled our foreign debt. We have regained our prestige as a serious country, which we have gained after many years of fruitful and responsible economic relationships with all countries of the world. We have been able to recover our economy, as all indicators clearly show. We have achieved this through a reasonable application of sound economic policies: letting the market play its fair role and allowing for free initiative to flourish. We have promoted harmony between labor and capital within the observance of law and order. We have not at any time neglected -- and it keeps being our main concern -- these social policies. Those are the final objectives of our action. It is undoubtedly the well-being of our people what we are looking for with all our energies. Social welfare, within the framework of justice it is the most appropriate soil for peace to flourish. Without peace and the well-being of all our peoples, the stability of this whole hemisphere is in danger.

In order to achieve social well-being, we require the solidarity and cooperation from those who are capable of working together with us, from those who have the capacity to assist us. We have to demonstrate to the world that there is no need of despotism, that there is no need of collectivism, to mitigate our people's sufferings. Yes, Mr. President, we wish to prove that with liberty and free initiatives, it is indeed possible to reach standards of living which are adequate to the human being.

I am sure, Mr. President, that this visit, which originated from your generous hospitality and that of the people of your country, will bring our two nations closer in strengthening their common ideals, and at the same time it gives my wife and me the opportunity to reaffirm our sincere friendship for you and your esteemed wife. Thank you.

Note: President Reagan spoke at 10:11 a.m. at the South Portico of the White House, where President Febres-Cordero was accorded a formal welcome with full military honors. Following the ceremony, the two Presidents met in the Oval Office.