[Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: William J. Clinton (1998, Book I)]
[April 16, 1998]
[Pages 581-582]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office www.gpo.gov]

[[Page 581]]

Remarks at a State Dinner Hosted by President Eduardo Frei 
Eduardo Chile in Santiago
April 16, 1998

    Mr. President, Mrs. Frei, members of the 
Chilean Government, citizens of this great nation: On behalf of my wife, 
our administration, the Members of Congress and our entire party, I 
thank you for the warm welcome we have received. And I understand that I 
should thank you in advance for your patience because the great 
gathering of this coming week will probably create the biggest taco in 
your history. [Laughter] For those in our delegation who don't know, 
that means ``traffic jam.''
    Mr. President, it was just over a year ago that Hillary and I hosted 
you and Martita for a state visit in Washington. 
On that trip you delivered a powerful address to a joint session of our 
Congress. Now I will have the opportunity and the honor of addressing 
your Parliament tomorrow.
    The short time between our visits reflects the growing strength and 
the growing importance of our relations. Chile is admired in the United 
States and around the world for its natural beauty, its writers and 
artists, its athletes, its leadership in seeking peace in volatile 
regions, its remarkable economic growth and stability, and the bravery 
of your people in restoring longstanding democracy after two turbulent 
    That Chile is host to the second Summit of the Americas shows the 
esteem in which your country is held in this hemisphere. It also 
demonstrates, Mr. President, the great respect you have earned among 
your fellow leaders who are proud to be coming here for this meeting.
    Some see you, Mr. President, as a man of calm reserve; a civil 
engineer who, as you just said, expertly builds bridges to improve the 
lives of your fellow citizens. But it seems to me there may be another 
side to you. It is said that you love opera and the tango--hardly the 
stuff of dry engineering. [Laughter] And when you addressed our Congress 
last year, the first person you quoted was not some gray-suited 
economist but that great political leader Don Quixote de la Mancha. The 
words of the noble Don you selected go to the core of our shared values, 
so let me repeat them tonight: ``Freedom is one of the most precious 
gifts Heaven bestows on man. All the treasure of Earth cannot equal 
    Mr. President, we have seen that like your father before you, you 
care passionately about the freedom of your people and about the least 
fortunate in your society. I'm sure your father was in your thoughts 
when, in your very first address as Chile's President, you pledged to 
bring hope and dignity to the poorest of your fellow citizens. You've 
worked hard to ensure that your growing prosperity will benefit not just 
the few but everyone. And Mrs. Frei deserves 
great credit for her active work on behalf of the poor, women and 
children, and Chilean artisans.
    The United States wants to deepen our partnership with Chile across 
the whole range of challenges and opportunities we share, strengthening 
democracy, improving education, protecting the environment, preserving 
the peace, and yes, expanding trade. Our meeting today furthered all 
these goals. I know we will continue to do the same. So much is at 
stake. Working with the Chilean people and with you, Mr. President, is a 
great honor for me, my Government, and our citizens.
    In the darkest days of the past year, when dissent was suppressed, 
when people were denied a meaningful vote and true leaders denied the 
chance to lead, the Chilean people never abandoned hope that one day 
things would get better. Now, because of your hope, the courage, the 
vision of your leadership, and your people, things are, indeed, better--
much better. Better in a way that is a beacon of hope to people 
throughout this hemisphere, and, indeed--perhaps more than you know--
throughout the world.
    Now the United States and Chile celebrate together the precious 
gifts of freedom and prosperity, and our determination to support 
democracy and to advance prosperity all across the Americas and 
throughout the world.
    For all that you have done and the reception we have received, and 
for all that we must do together for tomorrow, I am honored to invite 
all of you to join me in a toast to the President, the First Lady, and the people of Chile.

[[Page 582]]

Note: The President spoke at 9:20 p.m. in La Moneda Palace. In his 
remarks, he referred to President Frei's wife, Marta.