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resentatives of our twenty-one republics met
two years ago at Buenos Aires in an InterAmerican Conference for the Maintenance of Peace.
Building on the foundations laid down at Montevideo, the Buenos Aires Conference carried far forward the work of strengthening and perfecting the structure of peace in the Western Hemisphere. By the signing at that Conference of several far-reaching conventions, treaties, and protocols and by the adoption of a Declaration of Principles of Inter-American Solidarity and Cooperation, powerful instruments of peace were forged at Buenos Aires. A system was thus created under which the American nations undertook to maintain peace among themselves and pledged themselves to consult with each other in the event that the peace of any one of them might be threatened, whether on the American Continent or from outside.
The creation of this American system was the outstanding accomplishment of the Buenos
Aires Conference. In addition, our nations reaffirmed their determination, already clearly and vigorously expressed at Montevideo, to work in the direction of improved economic relations and of closer cultural relationships as necessary foundations of order under law. Under this system and as a result of this determination, peace and friendly cooperation prevail today in the Western Hemisphere.
The treaty of peace between the Republics of Bolivia and Paraguay, concluded last July, is one of the most significant and encouraging developments in inter-American relations during recent years. By this peace the two countries gave an undeniable example to the faithless and the reckless who think that questions can be settled only by force or frightfulness.
Finally, may I add that it should be a matter of profound gratification to all of us that our nations can point to an impressive record of accomplishment during the past five years. To be sure, stock-taking alone, even as satisfying as this, is not sufficient. We are faced today with
world problems and world conditions which are even more difficult and fraught with more danger for all of us than those with which we were confronted at Montevideo and at Buenos Aires. Our present Conference has before it tasks of utmost gravity and responsibility. But a clear visualization of what we have already accomplished and a realization, therefore, of what we are capable of accomplishing should aid us enormously in applying ourselves to the tasks which are before us.
There is no mystery about the reasons why developments in the Western Hemisphere during recent years have been so markedly different from those which have occurred in many other parts of the world. In large measure, the explanation lies in the fact that the American nations have in common certain important and fundamental characteristics.
Each of our nations arose out of a revolution which had for its objective national independence and the assertion of human rights and of
popular government. The men and women of the particular generation in each of our countries which achieved for its people independent nationhood staked their all on a passionate conviction that forms of government can be created under which human rights will be secure. They gladly fought for the vindication of their conviction. They bequeathed to us of today not only the forms of such government but also the spirit on the basis of which alone institutions of this character can endure.
Throughout its national existence each of our nations has sought to perfect within its frontiers a system of representative government and of liberty for the individual. In this supreme endeavor some of us have encountered greater internal difficulties than have others. Some of us have remained free from interference of outside forces; some have had to combat such forces. But in each and every one of our nations there has been no flagging in the determination of the people to preserve national independence and freedom for the individual.
Our nations have drawn into their populations men of many races, creeds, and languages. This fact has not operated as an element of weakness. The occasion for the adjustment of race to race and of creed to creed has been in large measure instrumental in teaching us how to develop adjustment of individual to individual and of group to group without which civilized society and democratic forms of social and political organization cannot function satisfactorily.
A spirit of tolerance, mutual respect, and understanding is as important in the relations of our nations with each other as in our internal relations. Happily, this spirit has been present, although it has not always developed uninterruptedly along an upward trend. Like all things human, it has had its fluctuations. Disagreements and controversies have arisen among us. But they have remarkably seldom been settled by the arbitrament of violent conflict, in the form of either military or other types of coercion.