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Public Papers - 1992 - February

Remarks at the State Dinner for Drug Summit Participants in San Antonio

1992-02-26

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen: Barbara and I are honored to have you join us here tonight. It is a particular pleasure to welcome to the United States our good friends and our neighbors from Mexico, Colombia, Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia, and Venezuela. I am delighted that we've gathered in my home State, Secretary Baker's home State of Texas, with our Governor here, the Mayor of this city here, in this gracious city of San Antonio. For centuries, San Antonio has stood as an important cultural crossroads of the Americas.

We meet at a time of great hope for all the people of the Americas. In almost every nation in the hemisphere, people enjoy self-government and respect for human rights. We're making steady progress to improve our people's quality of life through more open trade and investment, by creating more jobs. That's why I am committed more strongly than ever to completing the North American free trade agreement linking the economies of Mexico, Canada, and the United States. And building upon that, we will realize the vision I call the Enterprise for the Americas Initiative for robust trade and investment from the Arctic Ocean to the Straits of Magellan.

During our meetings this week in San Antonio, we will refine and intensify our common efforts against the menace of drugs. Each of our nations is making progress. Bolivia has successfully intensified its law enforcement efforts against cocaine traffickers. Peru has taken important steps to control airstrips used by traffickers to move cocaine to Colombia. Ecuador is moving against money launderers and traffickers on its territory. Colombia has jailed some of its most violent drug traffickers and is seizing record quantities of drugs. Venezuela is clamping down on those attempting to use its territory to ship drugs to Europe and America. Mexico has reduced cultivation of both opium poppies and marijuana by unprecedented amounts while seizing record amounts of cocaine through Operation Halcion.

For each of our nations, the battle against drugs is truly a war. The ultimate stakes are the same: the minds, bodies, and the souls of our young people, so many of whom have been hurt or destroyed by the violent world of the drug dealers. In the United States, we're stepping up treatment, prevention, and research programs, and we're toughening our prosecution and punishment of drug kingpins.

We're seeing results on the demand side as well. In the United States over the past 6 years, we've reduced the number of regular users of cocaine by two-thirds. Adolescent use of all types of illegal drugs is down. The number of high school seniors using illegal drugs is the lowest since we began measuring their drug use.

We must do more. Drug abuse and drug violence, particularly in our inner cities, threaten to destroy our children and everything else we hold dear. At risk is the civilization we share, our common inheritance, and our common future.

So, let us renew our resolve. Let us strengthen our commitment to guarantee all people drug-free communities. And as we work to advance the quality of life in our own hemisphere in so many ways, let us win a lasting victory in the war against drugs.

And once again, a warm welcome to San Antonio, Texas. And may God bless you and all the peoples of the Americas. And may I raise a glass in honor of our distinguished guests and the important mission that all of us share.

Note: The President spoke at 8:01 p.m. at the Majestic Theater.

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