Remarks With Uruguayan President Jose Mujica Before Their Meeting

John Kerry
Secretary of State
Treaty Room
Washington, DC
May 13, 2014

SECRETARY KERRY: It’s my great pleasure to welcome His Excellency, the President of the Republic of Uruguay, President Jose Mujica. Yesterday we had the privilege of meeting with President Obama, and now today, I have an opportunity to discuss with he and his ministers the issues of concern.

Where’s our – we have simultaneous interpretation? Esta bien? It’s good? Muy bien. Okay. I just – we have simultaneous, so I’m just making sure we’re on the same wavelength here.

Uruguay is a country that is known for promoting peace and freedom and democracy, and particularly for promoting a strong social agenda in order to deal with the problems of growing an economy and providing equality, of opportunity for people. I very much look forward to collaborating with Uruguay in this initiative as we go forward, and the President and I and his ministers will discuss today ways in which we can promote racial, ethnic, and social equality. We will be signing a Memorandum of Understanding during this visit that will be signed by Assistant Secretary Roberta Jacobson tomorrow.

In addition, we are working to expand educational exchanges. President Obama has a major priority of 100,000 Strong, which is an effort for students from the United States to go to Uruguay, and students from Uruguay to come here. That is the best form of diplomacy. It’s the best way to build a relationship. And it’s the best way to grow opportunities between our countries. So we very much look forward to expanding our discussion today on these social issues, and we’re very grateful. Uruguay is an old friend, and we are very, very privileged and happy to have the President here today to talk about how we grow this relationship going forward, and we’re very grateful to you Mr. President for taking the time to come by.

And now, I recognize the President if he wants to make a few comments.

PRESIDENT MUJICA: (Via interpreter.) I would like to offer our recognition because we know what this nation means to all of us. Sir, you know that our country is going toward an electoral process, and I think that the next government will have open doors in order to make sure that there is a technical, scientific cooperation because our country needs it. And in actual fact, we are going through a major process of development and we want to make sure that we use this to the utmost. We also don’t have the necessary technical training in – at the intermediate and highest levels in our country, therefore this type of cooperation is very important for us because it’s easy to talk about democracy, human rights, freedom, but a lot of that has to do with the material conquests that our society can achieve and that our society is able to distribute wealth. And we have to make sure that we have the political will to make sure that this distribution takes place.

So when we talk about justice and equality amongst human beings, we know that this is a very long, long road. We have to do our part and then there will be others. There will be others. I have very much to thank all the universities, the qualified people in society, the researchers in the society – I really do have very much to thank them for, because they are sowing seeds in our Americas. Thank you.

SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you very much, Mr. President. Now we’re going to have a chance to be able to have our conversation. Gracias. Muchas gracias.