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Rice Remarks at US Embassy Brasilia Meet & Greet

Remarks at U.S. Embassy Brasilia Meet and Greet

Secretary Condoleezza Rice
Brasilia, Brazil
April 26, 2005

AMBASSADOR JOHN DANILOVICH: Secretary Rice, Assistant Secretary Noriega, good afternoon honored guests, families and friends, ladies and gentlemen of the U.S. Embassy in Brasilia, it's an honor and a pleasure for me to formally introduce you to a person who is really already well known to us all.

Secretary of State, Dr. Condoleezza Rice, has been an outstanding public servant and academic leader for many years. As an alumnus of Stanford University, I'm personally proud to say that she had served that institution with distinction, as the University's Provost for six years and as a professor of political science.

I'm also very happy as a Californian that she considers California her home, too. As our Secretary of State, Dr. Rice is literally off to a flying start. With her arrival here today, she has now visited 23 countries in the past three months, demonstrating the kind of energy and commitment she brings to the job. We are pleased and proud that Brazil is her first stop in South America.

Upon taking office in January of this year, Secretary Rice said that the Department of State should take the lead in advancing the President's foreign policy agenda for a freer and more prosperous world, and that she would make sure that we had the resources and training to do so.

Second only to the President, Dr. Rice is the most visible American in the world today. And that fills us all with a great sense of pride. President Bush and the United States and indeed the world are very fortunate to have such a visionary leader as Dr. Rice. And the Department of State could not have a more effective and charismatic advocate for the important role that it plays in formulating and implementing the foreign policy of the United States of America.

Ladies and gentlemen, it's my pleasure to present to you the Secretary of State, Dr. Condoleezza Rice.

(Applause.)

SECRETARY RICE: Hello, everyone. Thanks for coming out tonight. I just want to start by thanking the Ambassador and his wife and their son, Alex, for this wonderful opportunity to be with you and to thank them for their leadership of this Embassy. I know they've done a terrific job on behalf of the President and on behalf of a country and in leading this great Embassy, and so thank you very much for the job that you've done.

Thanks, also, to the wonderful performances. The dancers remind me what it is to be really physically fit.

(Laughter.)

That was really some kind of show and I want to thank them very much for what I understand is a dance that was first started on the plantation. And John was telling me that it was a kind of form of martial arts that was done so that people didn't know what they were learning. And so, it has a very special history and it shows the great multi-ethnic character and multi-ethnic history of Brazil, which is after all, a multi-ethnic history and culture that we in the United States share: European and Latin and African all together. And so, thank you for that wonderful, wonderful opportunity to watch you.

My friend, the gymnast, Daiane dos Santos, you know what she did? She came up and she spoke Russian to me.

(Laughter.)

And so that's very exciting and I look forward to the day when I can watch her in the next Olympics. She is a fantastic gymnast. She can do lay-outs and tucks and all of those things and so thank you for coming out to visit. And also to the volleyball team. I was asked whether or not I played and I said, "Not well." But I might be inspired now that I've got my own ball. So, thank you very much.

(Laughter.)

I want to thank each and every one of you: Foreign Service, Civil Service, Foreign Service Nationals, especially, without whom we could not do our work, the people here who are from other U.S. Government agencies, our military people and others. Thank you so very much for what you do every day to sustain and nurture this extremely important relationship with Brazil.

I want to thank you, also, for what you have been doing the last couple of -- three days because I know when someone like me shows up, that that means extra hours, it means extra work, so I want to thank you for all that you've done to make this visit possible. And I'm really very much looking forward to the time that I'll spend here in Brazil, indeed, my first stop in South America.

It's really an extraordinary time in human history. It's a time when democracy really is on the march. How could you not be impressed with what we've seen in the Rose Revolution in Georgia; or the Orange Revolution in Ukraine; or the Cedar Revolution in Lebanon today, where they said goodbye to Syrian forces after nearly 30 years of occupation. And I know there's a large Lebanese community here in Brazil that must be tremendously proud and excited about that. Or the Palestinian people going out to vote for a man who says that it's time now for peace with Israel; or the people of Afghanistan who stood along dusty roads for hours in order to vote; and, of course, the people of Iraq who faced down terrorists in order to vote.

But you know, as we look at those great revolutions, we also have to recognize that a lot of that spirit and march of democracy action began right here in Latin America. In the 1980s it would not have been possible to think that you would have in this region 34 democracies that belong now to the Organization of American States and there would only be one empty chair at the OAS and that would be Cuba.

You would not have thought that, given the history of juntas and coup d'etats in this region. Given the history of civil conflict and civil war. Given the history of brutality against their own peoples that dictators really fermented out here. Given the history of conflict, given the statist economies that dominated this region. Given the anti-American views that dominated in this region. It really wouldn't have been possible, a mere 20 years ago or so, to see what this region's present would look like. And to imagine what a bright future it's going to have.

Now, I know that there are a lot of challenges and democracy always brings its challenges. Democracy is not something that you achieve and you stop. You have to work every day, build it brick by brick. Very often, when I'm in the United States, I remind people that here in our own history, we didn't have an easy time in establishing a true, multi-ethnic democracy. Indeed, when the founding fathers said "We the people," they didn't mean me. My ancestors were three-fifths of a man. They were slaves.

But over time, democracies do develop and they get stronger. And they get stronger because they're based on the true aspirations of the people. And there are no people on earth who do not desire the human dignity that comes from being able to say what you think, to worship as you please, to educate your children -- both boys and girls and to be able to be free from the knock of the secret police at night. No people on earth who don't want that kind of human dignity.

And so what we've watched here in Latin America is remarkable, but it's just a part of a larger human story about this desire for liberty and for freedom.

I also want to say something about this very special relationship with Brazil. This is a country that is a great multi-ethnic democracy and it is a regional power and it is emerging as a global power. And we ought to welcome that. Because Brazil can be a wonderful partner, a great democratic partner, for the United States and for the other democracies of the world as we promote freedom and stability, as we deal with the challenges of democracy here in the region and beyond. And as we try to make certain that those benefits of democracy actually do spread downward to a people who still live on the margins of life -- and believe me, we know and we understand that there are many who still live on the margins, economically, politically, socially. Those people have to be incorporated in the great democratic dream. And Brazil and the United States have to be partners in that.

And that's the message that I brought, that this is a great partnership for the future. We have a wonderful future ahead of us. And so, I just want to thank you again for what you do, each and every day, to make that partnership possible.

Thanks very much.

(Applause.)

2005/T6-03


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