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U.S. Ambassador Silverstein Awarded Uruguay's Top Medal by President Batlle

Ambassador Martin J. Silverstein credits "clear and decisive actions" by President Bush towards strenghtening bilateral relations

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U.S. Ambassador Martin J. Silverstein and Uruguay President Jorge Batlle. [U.S. Embassy photo by Vince Alongi] CLICK TO ENLARGE PHOTO
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U.S. Ambassador Martin J. Silverstein. [U.S. Embassy photo by Vince Alongi] CLICK TO ENLARGE PHOTO
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Posted: December 2, 2004


AUDIO:
 Reading of the 
 Official Decree 

In a formal ceremony held today at the Presidency's "Edificio Independencia", Uruguayan President Jorge Batlle awarded the distinguished "Medalla de la Republica Oriental del Uruguay" to U.S. Ambassador Martin J. Silverstein, in recognition of his "intense and enthusiastic labor towards developing stronger relations between Uruguay and the United States".

This is the only medal authorized by the Uruguayan Legislature to be awarded to foreigners. Ambassador Silverstein is the first American citizen and first United States Ambassador to be decorated with this medal. Uruguay and the United States have maintained diplomatic relations for 137 years.

In receiving the honor, Ambassador Silverstein pointed out that, as President Bush’s emissary, his actions are an extension of the President's message and intentions. He added "any honor of me belongs to him, as his clear and decisive actions were the reason Uruguay received the historic 1.5 billion dollar loan, the only such loan of his Administration. It was at President Bush’s directive that Uruguay re-entered the American beef import market in record breaking time, further salvaging the Uruguayan economy. And now, as Uruguay plans for its future and growth in the world’s economy, it is at President Bush’s directive that the only Bilateral Investment Treaty of his Administration has been negotiated with Uruguay, while other nations admire from a distance."

Ambassador Silverstein reaffirmed the President's position towards Uruguay by stating "President Bush cares about Uruguay. He cares about this region. This bastion of democracy and responsible member of the world community deserved our support then, as it does now."

A trusted friend

In presenting the award, President Battle stated that the United States has always been that "trusted friend" Uruguay needed everytime it ran into serious problems. "There have been situations in the 19th and 20th century, that history has gathered, in which Uruguay has found, when it needed, that trusted friend", said Batlle. He added: "I would say, Mr. Ambassador, that once again we have found that trusted friend, not only in your country, but in you, who has given us a hand in truly difficult moments", making reference to the foot and mouth disease (FMD) outbreak in 2001, and the regional financial crisis of that same year, when Ambassador Silverstein "helped to get the authorities that manage the finances of the United States to take that historic step" approving a 1.5 billion dollar loan in order to salvage Uruguay's economy.

 • PRESIDENT BATLLE'S REMARKS:  [READ]   [AUDIO]

 • AMBASSADOR SILVERSTEIN'S REMARKS (Delivered in Spanish only):
ORIGINAL SPEECH:
Con su permiso, señor Presidente, Ministro Opertti, señor Secretario Dr. Lago.


[AUDIO]  
Gracias, señor Presidente. Agradezco profundamente sus gentiles palabras. Muchas gracias por este honor tan especial, que se convierte en aún más especial por ser la primera vez que se condecora de esta manera a un ciudadano estadounidense.

Cuando llegué al Uruguay en el año 2001, no podía haber previsto el impacto que este país tendría en mi vida y el impacto que mi país tendría en el Uruguay. La grave crisis financiera vino del otro lado del río unas pocas semanas después de mi llegada. Fue realmente una prueba de fuego.

Me siento orgulloso de que mi país haya respondido cuando Uruguay precisaba ayuda.

Como emisario del Presidente Bush, mis acciones son una extensión de su mensaje y de sus intenciones. Cualquier honor que se me atribuye le corresponde a él, ya que sus acciones claras y decisivas fueron la razón por la que Uruguay recibió el histórico préstamo de mil quinientos millones de dólares, el único préstamo de esa clase concedido por mi país en la actual administración. Fue por instrucciones del Presidente Bush que Uruguay volvió a entrar al mercado estadounidense de la carne en tiempo récord, respaldando de nuevo a la economía uruguaya. Y ahora, mientras Uruguay planifica su futuro y su crecimiento en la economía mundial, ha sido por las directivas del Presidente Bush que el único Tratado Bilateral para las Inversiones celebrado durante su gobierno ha sido negociado con Uruguay, para la admiración de otros países más distantes.

Al Presidente Bush le importa el Uruguay. Le importa esta región. Este bastión de la democracia e integrante responsable de la comunidad mundial mereció nuestro apoyo en aquellos momentos, al igual que ahora.

Los éxitos facilitados por nuestra misión diplomática en Uruguay y por la misión uruguaya en Washington D.C. constituyen un esfuerzo de equipo. La excelencia de esa gestión se representa de la mejor manera en mi delegado, James Williard, cuya dedicación al deber refleja las mejores tradiciones del Servicio Exterior de los Estados Unidos, y en el embajador Hugo Fernández Faingold, quien ha abogado sin cansancio y sin tregua a favor de su nación y ha sido mi socio responsable y creativo en todos los temas bilaterales. Les agradezco Jim y Hugo.

No obstante, señor presidente, si me permite decirlo, usted no debería ser modesto respecto de sus propios logros. La historia lo juzgará como uno de los líderes más grandes del Uruguay en un tiempo de crisis sin precedentes. Usted tomó medidas difíciles, decisivas y valientes que preservarán la democracia en Uruguay durante generaciones por venir.

He dicho a menudo, antes y después de llegar al Uruguay, que es mi trabajo aprender a llevarme bien con usted, no su trabajo aprender a llevarse bien conmigo. No obstante, trabajar con usted no ha sido un trabajo, sino un alto honor y una de las experiencias más disfrutables de mi vida. Compartimos nosotros dos muchas memorias muy especiales.

No podría haber llegado a este momento sin el apoyo de mi esposa, Audrey. Este país ya se ha ganado bajo nuestra piel. Hemos festejado aquí cuatro aniversarios de bodas, y hemos tenido la felicidad de ver a nuestros seis hijos florecer con el amor a esta tierra tan especial en sus corazones.

Mirando hacia el futuro del Uruguay y la responsable y pacífica transición del poder, tengo la confianza de que la alianza de nuestras naciones y la amistad de nuestros ciudadanos se hará aún más fuerte. La amistad existe entre los pueblos. Los gobiernos son simples facilitadores.

El mismo amor a la libertad compartido por uruguayos y estadounidenses siempre nos mantendrá unidos.

Gracias a todos ustedes por haber venido hoy. Su presencia me honra.

Gracias de nuevo a usted, señor Presidente. Siempre atesoraré este momento.

TRANSLATION:
With your permission, Mr. President, Minister Opertti, Chief of Staff Dr. Lago.


[AUDIO]  
Thank you Mr. President. I deeply appreciate your very kind words. Thank you for this very special honor, made even more special by my being the first American citizen to be so decorated.

When I arrived in Uruguay in 2001, I could not predict the impact Uruguay would have on my life or the impact my country would have on Uruguay. The severe regional financial crisis from across the river came just a few weeks after my arrival. It truly was a trial by fire.

I am proud that my country answered the call when Uruguay needed help.

As President Bush's emissary, my actions are an extension of his message and intentions. Any honor of me belongs to him, as his clear and decisive actions were the reason Uruguay received the historic 1.5 billion dollar loan, the only such loan of his Administration. It was at President Bush's directive that Uruguay re-entered the American beef import market in record breaking time, further salvaging the Uruguayan economy. And now, as Uruguay plans for its future and growth in the world's economy, it is at President Bush's directive that the only Bilateral Investment Treaty of his Administration has been negotiated with Uruguay, while other nations admire from a distance.

President Bush cares about Uruguay. He cares about this region. This bastion of democracy and responsible member of the world community deserved our support then, as it does now.

The successes facilitated by our diplomatic mission in Uruguay and the Uruguayan mission in Washington D.C. are a team effort. That excellence is best represented by my Deputy, James Williard, whose dedication to duty represents the best traditions of the U.S. Foreign Service, and by Ambassador Hugo Fernandez Faingold, who has been a tireless and relentless advocate on behalf of his nation and my responsible and creative partner on all bilateral issues. Thank you Jim and Hugo.

However, Mr. President, if you will permit me to say, you should not be modest in your own accomplishments. History will judge you as one of Uruguay's greatest leaders in an unprecedented time of crisis. You took difficult, decisive, courageous steps that will preserve democracy in Uruguay for generations to follow.

I often said before and after I arrived in Uruguay that it was my job to learn to get along with you, not your job to learn to get along with me. However, working with you has not been a job, but rather a high honor and one of my life's most enjoyable experiences. We have many very special memories that the two of us share.

I could not have reached this moment without the support of my wife, Audrey. This country is intertwined in the fabric of our personal lives. We have celebrated 4 wedding anniversaries here, and we have enjoyed watching our 6 children blossom with the love of this special land in their hearts.

As we look forward to Uruguay's future and the responsible and peaceful transition of power, I am confident that the alliance of our nations and the friendship of our citizens will grow even stronger. Friendship is between real people. Governments are simply the facilitators.

The same love of freedom and liberty shared by Uruguayans and Americans will always keep us close.

Thank you all for coming today. I am most honored by your presence.

Thank you again to you Mr. President. I will always cherish this moment


 



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