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U.S. Department of State
96/02/26 Address before Legislative Assembly of El Salvador
Office of the Spokesman
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
Office of the Spokesman
(San Salvador, El Salvador)
Text as Prepared for Delivery February 26, 1996
SECRETARY OF STATE WARREN CHRISTOPHER
BEFORE THE LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY OF EL SALVADOR
San Salvador, El Salvador
February 26, 1996
Thank you for your kind introduction. Assembly President Salguero and
other distinguished guests. It is a great honor to address this
Legislative Assembly, and to have the chance to meet with
representatives of the Salvadoran people.
I have come to Latin America at a decisive moment in the history of our
hemisphere. Never have the Americas been more free or more prosperous.
Never have our relations been stronger. Never have we had a better
chance to build a mature partnership based on mutual respect between the
United States and its Latin and Caribbean neighbors.
On behalf of President Clinton, I am here to reaffirm how proud the
United States is to be a partner of a democratic El Salvador. Here in
the heart of your democracy, we celebrate the freedom and opportunity
that democracy and open markets have brought to all the Americas. In
each of our nations, democracy has given a voice and a choice to those
who were once silenced or suppressed. And in each of our nations,
economic reform is offering people a better opportunity to lift up their
But democracy and open markets are not just ends in themselves. We can
now join forces to advance other common goals. As President Clinton
said at the historic Summit of the Americas in Miami, we have "a
dazzling opportunity to build a community of nations committed to the
values of liberty and the promise of prosperity."
We will strengthen the foundation for this community in my visits this
week to Chile, Argentina, Brazil and Trinidad & Tobago. But I have come
first to El Salvador because without the great progress that you and
your neighbors have made toward democracy and reconciliation, the bold
vision of Miami would still be a distant mirage.
We respect the memory of the tens of thousands who died during your
civil war, and the grief of those they left behind. We respect the
perseverance of those who negotiated for 22 months to end that tragic
conflict. And we respect the bravery of those who defied dire threats
to cast their vote for a better future.
Here in this assembly -- the most diverse and representative in your
nation's history -- former foes are practicing tolerance instead of
terror. Together, you have taken brave steps to account for the past
brutalities, and to keep them from happening again. And together, you
have launched reforms that helped your economy grow last year at a rate
matched by few countries on any continent.
The United States is especially proud to have helped you transfer land
to former adversaries and their families. Already, this program has
granted title to more than 32,000 former soldiers and guerrillas. This
morning, President Calderon Sol and I signed an agreement that provides
$10 million in assistance from the United States to assure completion of
Since the peace agreement in 1992, the United States has provided El
Salvador with more than $600 million in assistance. Through USAID, we
have helped you build roads and restore electricity to towns and
villages torn apart by war. Our assistance has bolstered democracy by
training mayors and local officials. We have funded rural schools and
clinics, and we have supplied artificial limbs to the thousands left
handicapped by mines, bombs and bullets.
Many have joined in Salvador's salvation. Your peace accords would not
have been possible without the "four friends" -- Mexico, Spain, Colombia
and Venezuela. The World Bank and Inter-American Development Bank have
helped support your peace and reconstruction. And the United Nations
has worked with you to demobilize combatants, monitor human rights, and
train your police. Those in my country who doubt the value of the
United Nations should come here and see how the UN has helped resolve
one of our hemisphere's most intractable conflicts.
Across Central America, conflicts driven by class, race and ideology are
coming to an end, and fear has been replaced by hope.
In Guatemala, the Guatemalan people -- aided by strong support from the
OAS -- forcefully demonstrated their commitment to democracy in
rejecting an illegal coup in 1993, and by holding elections. President
Arzu and a new Congress are working to heal national divisions, and to
root out corruption and criminal conduct. The resumption of talks last
week in Mexico City will give the peace process new momentum.
In Nicaragua, the warm welcome given earlier this month to Pope John
Paul II by all Nicaraguans attests to their great strides toward peace
and reconciliation. Orderly and fair elections this year will be
critical to sustaining that spirit of tolerance and renewal. I urge the
winner of the presidential election to follow the impressive example of
The spread of democracy and the end of conflict have given new life to
the dream of a Central America united by a common purpose. Together,
your nations have revitalized your common market. Your new joint
security treaty and your decision to include Belize in your
consultations have bolstered your ability to respond to regional
challenges. Now, drawing on the spirit of Miami, all the nations of the
hemisphere can harness the collective power of our commitment to shared
Our vital task is to ensure that this hemisphere's hard-won democracy
remains secure. Across the Americas, our nations have sent a strong
signal that we will act together to defend democratically elected
governments. In Haiti, the nations of this hemisphere joined forces to
say no to dictatorship and yes to democracy. Now we call on all OAS
members to ratify the Washington Protocol in order to strengthen our
ability to act against any government that unlawfully seizes power. We
must do all we can to ensure that the will of the people remains the
will of this hemisphere -- and that also means extending democracy's
reach to Cuba, its last remaining dictatorship.
The shooting down of two small, unarmed civilian aircraft over
international waters by the Cuban military on Saturday is a vivid
reminder of the brutal character of the regime in Havana. It was a
blatant violation of international law. The United States and our Latin
and Caribbean partners have long agreed on the need for Cuba to make a
peaceful transformation to democracy, though we have sometimes disagreed
on tactics. And today we can all agree that the kind of lawless,
uncivilized behavior that we saw last Saturday is totally unacceptable.
Democracy's triumph in the Americas would not have taken place without
the growing professionalism of the hemisphere's military forces, not
least in Central America. At last July's Defense Ministerial in
Williamsburg, military and civilian leaders reaffirmed that when
citizens have cast their ballots, soldiers should respect those results.
Just as governments have committed their military to protecting the
nation, they have committed their police to protecting the people. Here
in El Salvador, your National Civilian Police and the Public Security
Academy are two of the most important institutions to emerge from your
peace accords. We applaud recent police reforms here, and in Honduras
and Nicaragua. Let us all speak with one voice: Vigilantism or other
illegal police activity have no place in the new Central America.
We must also strengthen democracy's roots in this hemisphere by
promoting accountable government and creating strong public
institutions. As we in the United States learn every day, democracy is
an eternal work in progress. The development of political parties, an
independent judiciary, equitable laws, and independent trade unions are
essential if democracy is to thrive. I urge this Assembly to act
decisively on the vital constitutional and legal reforms before you.
Respect for human rights remains the moral touchstone of this
hemisphere's commitment to democracy. Lasting peace is impossible where
fundamental freedoms are denied. The Truth Commission that you set up
to account for past wrongs is a model for tribunals in Rwanda, Haiti and
the former Yugoslavia. And the Human Rights Ombudsman has become a
strong voice for all Salvadorans. Our closest ties will always be to
those governments committed to protecting human rights.
Just as the march of democracy is bringing new hope to this hemisphere,
the opening of the region's economies is beginning to free its peoples
from poverty and inequity. As President Arzu of Guatemala said in his
inauguration speech, "God didn't create Guatemala to be enjoyed by a
few." Here in El Salvador, far-reaching reforms are restoring your
economy's pre-war dynamism. We look forward to negotiating treaties on
investment and copyright protection. We congratulate you on the rights
that your new labor code gives to your workers and urge you to
strengthen its enforcement in your thriving maquila industry.
Your economic reforms are a beacon for the region. Last month,
President Reina's government in Honduras introduced broad reforms to
increase growth, exports, investment and employment. For the first time
in more than a decade, Nicaragua has experienced two consecutive years
of economic growth, and an inflation rate that has plunged from 11,000
percent to 11 percent.
Internal economic reforms are driving dramatic growth in regional trade,
and laying the groundwork for the negotiation by 2005 of the Free Trade
Area of the Americas that our leaders endorsed in Miami. On behalf of
President Clinton, let me reaffirm our determination to reach that goal.
Today I am pleased to make an announcement that will advance our goal of
open trade in the hemisphere. In his March budget proposal, President
Clinton will include an interim trade program for countries that are
part of the Caribbean Basin Initiative, or CBI.
This NAFTA-parity program will expand the range of products included in
the CBI, covering textiles, apparel and footwear as well as petroleum.
It will help smaller economies make the transition to open trade, while
opening new opportunities for us in a region that is already the fastest
growing market for American exports. This step will help the economies
of Central America and the Caribbean make the transition to open trade.
It is good for this region and it is good for the United States.
In our increasingly open and integrated hemisphere, problems often
follow progress. International crime, narcotics, and damage to the
environment have grown more threatening in a world grown closer. Each
of us must vigorously fight these enemies on our own. Yet none of us
will be secure until we can fight them together.
Central America has fought hard against the scourge of illegal drugs.
Joint efforts by the United States and Guatemala, for example, have
virtually eliminated its once-thriving opium poppy crop, and
substantially curtailed cocaine shipments. But drug traffickers are
seeking to expand in Belize, and remain a threat in Costa Rica, Honduras
and El Salvador. The United States will continue to help train police
officers, and provide equipment and other resources where they can be
used most effectively. President Clinton's appointment of General Barry
McCaffrey to spearhead an aggressive counter-narcotics campaign
underscores our commitment to work with our partners in this hemisphere
-- and to intensify the war against drugs effectively at home.
In his speech at the UN General Assembly last fall, President Clinton
unveiled an ambitious strategy that targets the assets of criminals and
drug cartels, denies them sanctuary, and boosts
global law enforcement cooperation. Through the Miami Summit, our 34
democracies have launched a coordinated assault on money launderers, and
advanced our counternarcotics strategy and our campaign against
corruption. For our efforts to succeed, criminals must have no place to
hide and no chance to enjoy their ill-gotten gains. I call on El
Salvador and the nations of Central America to pass laws that deny
sanctuary to criminals regardless of nationality, and that make money-
laundering a crime.
We must also intensify our efforts against those who smuggle migrants
across our borders. They are the slave traders of our time. And they
undermine confidence in the benefits of legal migration not just in the
United States, but throughout the Americas. We hope that other
governments in Central America will follow Honduras's lead and make
migrant smuggling a crime. For the sake of all of our citizens, all our
nations must work together to stop this dehumanizing and illegal trade
The United States will faithfully enforce our immigration laws and
pursue immigration policies that are fair, humane and non-
discriminatory. Rights will be protected and reasonable, fair
procedures will be followed. We are committed to that. From El Segundo
in Los Angeles to Mt. Pleasant in Washington, D.C., there are almost one
million people of Salvadoran descent in the United States making
valuable contributions -- including some in the U.S. armed forces
working to bring peace to Bosnia.
Finally, our nations must meet another fundamental challenge: protection
of the environment. Environmental damage and unsustainable population
growth pose a threat to our security and prosperity. We must move, as
President Clinton says, beyond the false choice that pits economic
development against environmental protection. Neither can be achieved
without the other.
That is especially true in your country, which has one of the highest
population densities in the hemisphere. Only by carefully managing your
resources will you fulfill the dreams of your people while protecting
the beauty and wealth of your cloud forests and mangrove swamps. The
Americas appreciate El Salvador's leadership in pursuing the Summit's
ambitious agenda of sustainable development.
We will continue working with leaders such as President Figueres of
Costa Rica and Prime Minister Esquivel of Belize, who are devising
innovative ways to protect precious natural resources. We will bolster
our cooperation through the CONCAUSA agreement that our presidents
signed in Miami. And we support the innovative efforts of this region
to implement measures to reduce greenhouse gases.
El Salvador's success in ending a bitter conflict has brought hope to
your neighbors and inspired peacemakers around the world. Out of a
legacy of repression and injustice you have forged a strong new
commitment to democracy and freedom. From the ashes of war you are
building an economy that is offering new and better opportunities to all
The end of the Cold War has given the Americas the chance to write a new
chapter in our shared history. Across two continents, our peoples are
forging a new democratic partnership to meet the challenges of a new
The road ahead will be as difficult as it is rewarding. But the course
set by our leaders in Miami is clear. By working together, we can build
an integrated hemisphere whose free peoples are united in hope and
progress, and whose nations enjoy the benefits of stability, prosperity
El Salvador and its neighbors have helped lead the way by pursuing the
path of peace and reconciliation. As you continue on that great
journey, the United States will stand by you at every step.
Thank you very much.
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