JFK ARRIVED IN COSTA RICA FOR CONFERENCE 50 YEARS AGO TODAY
San Jose, Costa Rica (JFK+50) President John F. Kennedy arrived in San Jose, Costa Rica 50 years ago today, March 18, 1963, for the President's Conference, a meeting of heads of state devoted to the goals of the Alliance for Progress.*
*This was the 1st time a US President went to Central America to confer with all the leaders of the region.
In his remarks at the airport in San Jose, JFK said:
"About 500 years ago, Christopher Columbus, after having discovered Costa Rica, turned from Panama & began his last journey home. He described this 4th voyage as the...high voyage, & I feel...that this is a high voyage for all of us who meet today in this free & democratic country.
Our voyage...is not to seek new lands to conquer, but to make sure that old lands remain free.
We don't seek gold for a few in our voyage; we seek a better life for all of our people."
Welcoming the President of the United States was the President of Costa Rica, Francisco J. Orlich.**
Francisco J. Orlich
President of Costa Rica
Photo by MadriCR (2012)
Francisco J. Orlich (1907-1969) was born in San Ramon, Costa Rica. He was mayor of the city, commander of the National Liberation Army & Supreme Commander of the armed forces of Costa Rica before being elected President. He served from 1962-1966.
Later in the day JFK spoke from the steps of the Ambassador Raymond Telles' home. The President said...
"Today...we are gathered...in pursuit of...the preservation of our independence, the extension of freedom, & the elevation of the welfare of our citizens to a level as high as 'from our resources' we can attain.
JFK went on to review some of the accomplishments of the Alliance. He spoke of the "almost 3000 new classrooms" that had been built & "almost a million new books" which had been distributed. He also said that "7600 new homes will have been built during this 2 year period" but added "much more remains to be done."
Still later, JFK proposed a toast at a dinner given in his honor at the Presidential Palace. JFK said...
"I hope that members of the United States will join me in drinking (a toast) to the people of Central America & Panama, & to the very good health of our friends, the Presidents, who have stood with the United States in the cause of freedom..."
President Kennedy would remain in Costa Rica for the duration of the conference which continued the next day. JFK departed Costa Rica on March 20, 1963 arriving back at the White House in the evening.
"Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States, John F. Kennedy, January 1, to November 22, 1963." United States Government Printing Office, Washington, 1964.
JFK Motorcade in Costa Rica