President Obama: "We are all Americans. Todos somos Americanos."

Posted by DipNote Bloggers
March 22, 2011
President Obama Speaks in Santiago, Chile

On March 21, 2011, President Barack Obama delivered remarks on Latin America at the Palacio de La Moneda Cultural Center in Santiago, Chile. President Obama said:

"Throughout our history, this land has been called 'el fin de la tierra' -- the end of the world. But I've come here today because in the 21st century this nation is a vital part of our interconnected world. In an age when peoples are intertwined like never before, Chile shows that we need not be divided by race or religion or ethnic conflict. You've welcomed immigrants from every corner of the globe, even as you celebrate a proud indigenous heritage.

"At a time when people around the world are reaching for their freedoms, Chile shows that, yes, it is possible to transition from dictatorship to democracy -- and to do so peacefully. Indeed, our marvelous surroundings today, just steps from where Chile lost its democracy decades ago, is a testament to Chile's progress and its undying democratic spirit.

"Despite barriers of distance and geography, you've integrated Chile into the global economy, trading with countries all over the world and, in this Internet age, becoming the most digitally connected country in Latin America.

"And in a world of sometimes wrenching pain -- as we're seeing today in Japan -- it is the character of this country that inspires. 'Our original guiding stars,' said Pablo Neruda, 'are struggle and hope.' But, he added, 'there is no such thing as a lone struggle, no such thing as a lone hope.' The Chilean people have shown this time and again, including your recovery from the terrible earthquake here one year ago.

"Credit for Chile's success belongs to the Chilean people, whose courage, sacrifices and perseverance built this nation into the leader that it is. And we are very honored to be joined today by four leaders who have guided this nation through years of great progress -- Presidents Aylwin, Frei, Lagos, and of course your current President Pinera. Thank you all, to the former Presidents, for being here, as well as President Pinera. (Applause.)

"So I could not imagine a more fitting place to discuss the new era of partnership that the United States is pursuing not only with Chile, but across the Americas. And I'm grateful that we're joined by leaders and members of the diplomatic corps from across the region.

"Within my first 100 days in office, one of my first foreign trips as President, I traveled to Trinidad and Tobago to meet with leaders from across the hemisphere at the Summit of the Americas. And there, I pledged to seek partnerships of equality and shared responsibility, based on mutual interest and mutual respect, but also on shared values.

"Now, I know I'm not the first president from the United States to pledge a new spirit of partnership with our Latin American neighbors. Words are easy, and I know that there have been times where perhaps the United States took this region for granted.

"Even now, I know our headlines are often dominated by events in other parts of the world. But let's never forget: Every day, the future is being forged by the countries and peoples of Latin America. For Latin America is not the old stereotype of a region of -- in perpetual conflict or trapped in endless cycles of poverty. The world must now recognize Latin America for the dynamic and growing region that it truly is.

"Latin America is at peace. Civil wars have ended. Insurgencies have been pushed back. Old border disputes have been resolved. In Colombia, great sacrifices by citizens and security forces have restored a level of security not seen in decades.

"And just as old conflicts have receded, so too have the ideological battles that often fueled them -- the old stale debates between state-run economies and unbridled capitalism; between the abuses of right-wing paramilitaries and left-wing insurgents; between those who believe that the United States causes all the region's problems and those who believe that the United States ignores all the problems. Those are false choices, and they don't reflect today's realities.

"Today, Latin America is democratic. Virtually all the people of Latin America have gone from living under dictatorships to living in democracies. Across the region, we see vibrant democracies, from Mexico to Chile to Costa Rica. We've seen historic peaceful transfers of power, from El Salvador to Uruguay to Paraguay. The work of perfecting our democracies, of course, is never truly done, but this is the outstanding progress that's been made here in the Americas.

"Today, Latin America is growing. Having made tough but necessary reforms, nations like Peru and Brazil are seeing impressive growth. As a result, Latin America weathered the global economic downturn better than other regions. Across the region, tens of millions of people have been lifted from extreme poverty. From Guadalajara to Santiago to Sao Paolo, a new middle class is demanding more of themselves and more of their governments.

"Latin America is coming together to address shared challenges. Chile, Colombia and Mexico are sharing their expertise in security with nations in Central America. When a coup in Honduras threatened democratic progress, the nations of the hemisphere unanimously invoked the Inter-American Democratic Charter, helping to lay the foundation for the return to the rule of law. The contributions of Latin American countries have been critical in Haiti, as has Latin American diplomacy in the lead up to yesterday's election in Haiti.

"And increasingly, Latin America is contributing to global prosperity and security. As longtime contributors to United Nations peacekeeping missions, Latin American nations have helped to prevent conflicts from Africa to Asia. At the G20, nations like Mexico, Brazil, Argentina now have a greater voice in global economic decision-making. Under Mexican leadership, the world made progress at Cancun in our efforts to combat climate change. Nations like Chile have played a leading role in strengthening civil society groups around the world.

"So this is the Latin America that I see today -- a region on the move, proud of its progress, and ready to assume a greater role in world affairs. And for all these reasons, I believe that Latin America is more important to the prosperity and security of the United States than ever before. With no other region does the United States have so many connections. And nowhere do we see that more than in the tens of millions of Hispanic Americans across the United States, who enrich our society, grow our economy and strengthen our nation every single day.

"And I believe Latin America is only going to become more important to the United States, especially to our economy. Trade between the United States and Latin America has surged. We buy more of your products, more of your goods than any other country, and we invest more in this region than any other country.

"For instance, we export more than three times as much to Latin America as we do to China. Our exports to this region -- which are growing faster than our exports to the rest of the world -- will soon support more than 2 million U.S. jobs. In other words, when Latin America is more prosperous, the United States is more prosperous.

"But even more than interests, we're bound by shared values. In each other's journey we see reflections of our own. Colonists who broke free from empires. Pioneers who opened new frontiers. Citizens who have struggled to expand our nations' promise to all people -- men and women, white, black and brown. We're people of faith who must remember that all of us -- especially the most fortunate among us -- must do our part, especially for the least among us. We're citizens who know that ensuring that democracies deliver for our people must be the work of all.

"This is our common history. This is our common heritage. We are all Americans. Todos somos Americanos."

You can read the President's full remarks here.

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