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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 


                                ADDRESS 
                                   BY 
                SECRETARY OF STATE WARREN CHRISTOPHER 
           BEFORE THE LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY OF EL SALVADOR 
 
                          Legislative Assembly 
                        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 
lives. 
 
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 
this program. 
 
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 
President Chamorro.   
 
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 
values.  
 
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 
now. 
 
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 
your citizens.   
 
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 
millennium. 
 
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 
and democracy.   
 
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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