[Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: William J. Clinton (1998, Book I)]
[April 17, 1998]
[Pages 582-585]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office www.gpo.gov]

Remarks to the National Congress of Chile in Valparaiso
April 17, 1998

    Thank you very much. To the President of the Senate, the President of the Chamber of Deputies, to the members of the Senate and the Chamber of 
Deputies, members of the Chilean Cabinet, members of the diplomatic 
corps, my fellow Americans, including members of our administration, 
Members of Congress, the Governor of Puerto Rico, ladies and gentlemen. First, let me thank you for the 
warm reception that Hillary and I, the Secretary of State, Secretary of Education, and our entire delegation has received not only here but 
by the people of Chile.
    We are honored to be in this great nation, a place of marvelous 
gifts and well-earned accomplishments. Visitors here marvel at the 
beauty and extraordinary contrast of your landscape, from the desert 
north to the towering ranges of the Andes, to the mysteries of Easter 
Island, to the southern beaches where penguins brave Antarctic winds.
    Your culture moves the world in poetry and prose and music and 
dance, in theater and films, haunted by the spirits of the past, 
enriched by dreams of the future. Your Nobel Prize-winning poets, 
Gabriela Mistral and Pablo Neruda, have moved readers everywhere. 
Neruda's words and rhythms still come alive on every continent; his echo 
still heard in internationally acclaimed Chilean works like the novels 
of Jose Donoso and Antonio Skarmeta.
    Your economic success is admired the world over. Indeed, more and 
more other nations, whether developed or developing, want to be able to 
learn from your example. But over and above all those gifts and 
achievements, Chile possesses something older than the achievements, and 
perhaps even more valuable than nature's gifts--your devotion to freedom 
and democracy, a long and proud tradition.
    Not so very long ago now, freedom-loving people everywhere in the 
world cheered and cheered when the people of Chile bravely reclaimed 
their democratic heritage. Our hemisphere's longing for democracy goes 
all the way back to George Washington and Simon Bolivar. Today, we work 
to claim its full blessings, for a strong democracy honors all its 
people, respecting their dignity and fundamental rights, giving them the 
responsibility to govern, demanding that they tolerate each other's 
differences in an honorable fashion. It honors its children, giving all 
of them the opportunity to learn so that they can live their dreams. It 
honors its poor, its ill, its elderly, offering them support, leaving no 
one without hope. It honors entrepreneurs with efficient and honest 
government, offering the chance to create prosperity. It honors its 
writers, its artists, and its press, ensuring freedom of expression, no 
matter, and perhaps especially, when it is painful to hear. It honors 
its soldiers for their commitment to defend the people, not to rule 
them. This principle was strongly championed by Diego Portales early in 
Chile's history.
    Democracy is never perfect, but because it is open and free, it is 
always perfectible. In the words of our President Franklin Roosevelt, 
who tried so hard to be a good neighbor to Latin America, democracy is a 
never-ending seeking for better things.
    At different points in this century, many nations of the Americas 
lost their democracy. Some of them lost it more than once. No one loves 
freedom more than those who have had it and lost it. No one prizes it 
more than those who have lost it and regained it. I know, here, I am in 
a room full of people who love freedom.
    Freedom's victory now has been won throughout the Americas. With a 
single exception, the day of the dictators is over. The 21st century 
will be a century of democracy. To those anywhere in the Americas who 
would seek to take away people's precious liberties once again, or rule 
through violence and terror once again, let

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us reaffirm President Aylwin's historic 
words at Santiago Stadium, ``nunca mas.'' Never again.
    This commitment has now gone beyond those words; it is written into 
solemn compacts among the nations of our hemisphere. Here in Chile in 
1991, the members of the Organization of American States unanimously 
adopted a commitment that we will stand together to defend democracy 
wherever it is threatened. And last year the OAS amended its founding 
charter so that member nations may actually suspend any regime that 
overthrows a government elected by its people.
    We have backed our words with actions. In Haiti, nations from across 
the Americas, joined by others, participated in the United Nations' 
sponsored effort to restore a democracy that had been stolen by military 
force. Nations of this hemisphere stood with the people of Paraguay to 
preserve democracy when it was threatened there in 1996. A message 
should be clear to all: We have made a decision that in this 
hemisphere--the people govern.
    Now, having resolved to protect democracy, we must now do much, much 
more to perfect democracy. And we must do it throughout our hemisphere. 
Free elections are democracy's essential first step but not its last. 
And strong democracies deliver real benefits to their people. Across the 
Americas, there are still too many citizens who exercise their right to 
vote, but after the election is over, feel few benefits from the 
decisions made by their officials. This kind of popular frustration can 
fuel the ambitions of democracy's foes. As Chileans understand perhaps 
more clearly than any of their fellow Americans, there must be a second 
generation of reforms, beyond free elections and free markets, because 
for democracy to thrive, people must know that everyone who is willing 
to work will have a fair chance to share in the bounty of the nation.
    Leaders must ensure that the political system, the legal system, the 
economic system are not rigged to favor those who already have much but 
instead give everyone a stake in shaping the future. A strong and 
thriving democracy requires, therefore, strengthening the rule of law, 
the independence of judges, the professionalism of police, for justice 
must be honest.
    It requires a strong and independent legislature to represent all 
the people, even when on occasion, they do not do what the President 
would like them to do. It requires a constant campaign against 
corruption so that public contracts are awarded based on merit and not 
bribes. It requires bank and securities regulation to permit growth 
while guarding against cheaters and collapses. It requires a credit 
system not only for those who are obviously successful but for 
enterprising people no matter how poor or remote their conditions. It 
requires a robust, free press that can raise serious questions and 
publish without censorship or fear.
    A strong democracy also requires protecting the environment and 
attacking threats to it. It requires good schools and good health care. 
It requires protecting the rights of workers, standing up for the rights 
of women and children and minorities, fighting the drugs and crime and 
terrorism that eat away at democracy's foundations, reaching out across 
all sectors of society--from the corporate executive to the grassroots 
activists to the working family--again, to ensure that everyone has a 
stake in shaping the future.
    Tomorrow, democratically elected leaders will assemble in Santiago 
for the second Summit of the Americas, to launch the next steps in our 
united efforts to build strong democracies that deliver for all our 
    Chile is a shining star in America's constellation, stable and 
resilient with budget surpluses, a high savings rate, a high growth 
rate, low unemployment, and low inflation. But Chile also is trying to 
do more to give everyone that precious stake in the future.
    In his first address after taking office, President Frei pledged to work for all of Chile's people, and he 
has. Poverty has been cut in half compared to 1990 levels. The quality 
of education has improved, especially in poorer areas. Yesterday 
President and Mrs. Frei took Hillary and I to a 
neighborhood in Santiago where we talked to ordinary citizens who had 
benefited from educational opportunities and business opportunities in 
ways that enabled them to change their lives. Your citizens are working 
hard to protect the environment, although just like those of us in my 
country, we've still got a ways to go.
    The success of this nation goes beyond your borders. As President 
Frei noted last year in Washington, Chile was 
once known as the ``end of the Earth.'' Now it is known as the forefront 
of progress, a leader for peace and justice and prosperity, a leader in 
this hemisphere and throughout the world.

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    I thank you for what democratic Chile has done to promote peace in 
El Salvador, Haiti, Bosnia, the Persian Gulf, between Peru and Ecuador. 
Your country served on the United Nations Security Council. You have 
taken the initiative to attack corruption and crime across the Americas. 
For all that, I thank you.
    In the future, we must work together as we have in the past--indeed, 
as we have from the beginning--to strengthen our democracies and 
brighten our people's lives and broaden our children's futures. The 
friendship between the United States and Chile goes back to 1810, when 
our still-young Nation recognized your independence. Our friendship was 
off to a good start, but in all the long years and ups and downs, it has 
never been stronger or broader than it is today.
    We are your largest trading partner, and trade between us has grown 
at an average of 13 percent a year since 1993. We want and will 
resolutely pursue a free-trade agreement that includes our two nations. 
And I will not be satisfied until we achieve that goal.
    Chile and the United States must be full partners in the 21st 
century. We must also be full partners with like-minded democracies 
throughout our region. Tomorrow we will take a big step toward that full 
partnership as we begin the historic effort envisioned 4 years ago at 
the first Summit of the Americas in Miami, to create a free-trade area 
of the Americas by 2005. Meanwhile, as all of us know, the private 
sector is visibly proceeding as if it had already happened--expanding 
trade and investment, building successful joint enterprises in 
everything from mining to insurance to retailing.
    We know that more trade and commerce will increase our collective 
prosperity. But we must resolve, again I say, to pursue that second 
level of reforms to ensure that prosperity is widely shared. As 
President Frei has repeatedly said, clearly, for every nation, education 
is the key. More than ever before as nations and as individuals, our 
destiny depends upon what we know and how quickly we can learn. In a 
world where the volume of knowledge is doubling every 5 years, strong 
schools can give children the skills they need; it can also encourage 
their dreams. It can give people the power to overcome the inequalities 
between rich and poor. It can give nations the opportunity to fulfill 
their destiny.
    President Frei and I have committed 
ourselves to work together and to learn from each other to improve the 
quality and the reach of education in both our nations. All of us--all 
of us--should apply our best efforts to that until we have done much 
better than we are doing now in every nation of the Americas.
    As we travel into the 21st century, Chile can continue to rely on 
the United States as a friend and an ally. We have a great stake in your 
continuing success. You make the hemisphere safer and more prosperous. 
You are a strong partner in meeting our common challenges in this 
hemisphere and throughout the world.
    Indeed, we welcome the growing strength of all nations that believe 
in freedom and human dignity and work for a brighter future for their 
people, so that the partnership between our two people, as we will see 
at the Summit of the Americas, is really part of a larger community of 
values sweeping across our hemisphere. As we all come together this 
weekend, we do so to make democracy work in ways that our people can 
feel, to advance the fight against common threats and for wider economic 
opportunity and deeper democracy. In the words of Neruda, our dreams 
become one.
    On this very day, a consortium of universities from Chile, the 
United States, and other nations starts work on a powerful new telescope 
in northern Chile. Their astronomers will look up to the heavens, gazing 
deep into outer space and, therefore, deep into the past, so that they 
can learn things which will help us all to build a brighter future.
    We must never forget our past, but we must use it. We must not use 
it to open old wounds or to rest on the laurels of escape from its worst 
moments but, instead, to quicken our imagination of a better tomorrow 
and to propel us toward it.
    Together, let us resolve that when this summit is done, the leaders 
of the United States and Chile will not rest until we have shined the 
light of freedom and lit the spark of hope in every corner of our 
nations, in every part of our hemisphere. That is a worthy mission for 
the new century in the new millennium for two peoples who have loved 
freedom for a long, long time.
    Thank you very much.

Note: The President spoke at 12:05 p.m. in the National Congress 
Building. In his remarks, he referred to President of the Senate Andres 
Zaldivar; President of the Chamber of Deputies

[[Page 585]]

Gutenberg Martinez; former President Patricio Aylwin of Chile; and Gov. 
Pedro Rossello of Puerto Rico.