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