Good Neighbors—Good Friends


By MANUEL AVILA CAMACHO, President of the Republic of Mexico

Broadcast from Monterrey, Mexico, April 20, 1943

Vital Speeches of the Day, Vol. IX, pp. 420-421.

BECAUSE of the fundamental virtues which distinguish you and because of the significance of the solemn moment in which your visit to Mexico is being carried out, this occasion is not only a motive of deep satisfaction for my country but also an incontrovertible proof of the progress attained by our two peoples in their desire to know each other, to understand each other, and to collaborate, without interruptions or falterings, in order to achieve the democratic aspirations which unite them.

Mexico has not been obliged to alter in the slightest degree her basic policy in order to find herself at the side of those nations which are fighting for the civilization of the world and for the good of humanity. Our true path has not varied. Our historic sense of honor continues the same as that to which we gave expression in the past with our arms in order to defend our territory and to sustain our institutions.

If our position of solidarity with your country in the present emergency had implied for us some unforeseen change in our course, our cooperation would not enjoy the unanimous support which it has been granted by Mexican public opinion.

What, then, are the causes of our firm and sincere cordiality? Your Excellency personally is giving me the best reply to this inquiry.

In effect, neither Your Excellency nor I believe in negative memories, because we both place our hope in the soundness of principles, in the perfectibility of men, and in the constructive capacity of ideals.

You furnish us with an eloquent witness of a similar capacity of the spirit which for some years has guided your country and which has led it to strengthen by all possible means the generous systems of equality and independence. In this process—which owes so much to your ability as a leader—the United States has not been obliged to seek a foreign model.

In order to feel that your true greatness is not based upon dominance but rather upon the respect of sovereignties and on harmony under the law, it was sufficient for you to return with precision to the lesson of your greatest heroes. Washington, Jefferson and Lincoln are present in the current decisions of your country. And among your other claims to fame Your Excellency undoubtedly possesses that of having inflexibly fought to apply to the relations between the countries of this hemisphere the teachings of the famous liberators.

Mexico will never forget your participation in the structure of that new American policy which, because it is so much in agreement with our national purpose, we could without boastfulness proclaim as ours. Good neighbors. Good friends. That is what we have always wished to be for all the peoples of the earth.

It was certainly not hatred which causes us to enter the war in which we find ourselves. Nor was it a petty interest in possible practical advantages. We know perfectly well that any struggle is strenuous and that nothing durable can be created without constancy in privations and without steadfastness and severity in sacrifice.

With the same clarity we know the only conquests which the United Nations will obtain will be the moral conquests of dignity in thought, of autonomy in conduct, and of the overthrowing of might by right. And Your Excellency understands all this especially well, you to whom—as the champion of the Atlantic Charter—there is reserved a transcendental role in this time of unprecedented importance.

Our countries do not wish for a mere strategic truce obtained simply so that the world may again tomorrow fall into the same old faults of ambition, of imperialism, of iniquity and of sordid privilege.

We desire to live together free of the perpetual threats which derive from those who seek supremacy. Free from the supremacy in the domestic field which—as we were able tonote during the period in which this war was prepared-led certain elements to place their class interests above the interests of the whole group. And free from the supremacy in the foreign field, the constant results of which are violence, death and the ruin of culture.

In order to bring about such a living together, we must above all destroy the machinery of barbarism constructed by the dictators. Circumstances will determine for each one of us the degree of direct participation in active combat which this obligation may warrant. But there is one thing which is in reach of all: the carrying on of the fight immediately at home against those evils which offend and concern us in others.

A campaign of such universal extension is not won alone in the trenches of the enemy. It is also won at home through greater unity, through more work, through greater production and through the benefit of pure democracy in which our brothers, our comrades and even our enemies may discover a promise capable of giving to their lives a better content.

The difficulties with which we will be confronted will be very great. I recognize it. However, the energies of the people who are fighting against Nazi-fascism and the honesty of the statesmen who direct them are high pledges that the faith of which I speak will not be destroyed in the deliberations over the peace.

In order to contribute to the work of the post-war period the United States and Mexico are placed in a situation of undeniable possibilities and obligations. Geography has made of us a natural bridge of conciliation between the Latin and the Saxon cultures of the continent. If there is any place where the thesis of the good neighborhood may be proved with efficacy, it is right here in the juxtaposition of these lands.

Our successes and our errors will have in the future a tremendous significance, because they will not represent only the successes or failures of Mexico and the United Statesbut rather an example, a stimulus or a deception for all America. There is our primary responsibility. And thus there can best be appreciated the usefulness of these interviews which permit us to consider at close range our problems and try to solve them with the best and clearest understanding.

You have been witness of the enthusiasm with which my fellow countrymen have assumed the burden assigned to them by these virile times both in the carrying out of military service and in the multiple activities required by the industrial and agricultural mobilization of the country. At this table you see gathered together diverse representatives of a particularly enthusiastic and hardworking region. The other regions of the Republic of Mexico have also united in the rhythm of a production which is continually furnishing a quantity of aid to the arsenal of Allied production.

Within the same spirit our workmen, every day in greater numbers are going to the fields of the United States to lend their assistance in tasks which for the time being have had to be abandoned by farmers who have been drafted. This assistance, which is being coordinated with North American mobilization is—in addition to a symbol in which we understand the duties of reciprocal aid between peoples—a demonstration of the strong will which animates us.

For my part I am glad to express to you the admiration with which we in Mexico observe the prodigious effort being made by your country to hasten the end of the war. The enthusiasm with which your young men have rushed to battle areas and their bravery in offering their lives for the redemption of the oppressed awake in us an austere and continental pride.

At the same time I congratulate myself on this opportunity of shaking the hand of a loyal friend. I repeat to you, Mr. President, together with the sentiments of solidarity of my country and our wish for the success of our common cause, the desire that the relations between Mexico and the United States of America may develop—always—along the channels of mutual esteem and unceasing devotion to liberty.