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pd15mr99 Remarks on Arrival in Hope, Arkansas...

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to add one more year to the average schooling. And there may be a way--
I'm going to talk about this a little bit tomorrow--but this is a year 
in which a lot of countries are trying to pass this international 
convention against child labor, which the church has been solemnly 
supportive of, and which I strongly support.
    But I think it would be interesting to see whether we could marry 
the commitment of countries to support the convention against child 
labor with a commitment of the advanced countries that are pushing to 
help to dramatically increase investment in those countries in 
education, so that you're saying not just that you don't want the 
children in the factory but you do want them in the school.
    And there may be a way that we could dramatically accelerate the 
rate, the average schooling here. Now, I have all these people from my 
administration here, plus Lieutenant Governor MacKay, former Lieutenant 
Governor of Florida, who now will be my new Special Envoy to Latin 
America, and Mr. Atwood and the others are all here, so--and your 
Ambassadors. He's our Ambassador, but I think he's really your 
Ambassador. [Laughter] But we will follow up on this.
    On the environment and on education, the more specific you can be 
about what you want us to do, the more we can be helpful, I think. On 
all these areas, I will do my best.
    The last thing I'd like to say is I'd like to thank the gentleman 
from Save the Children. My wife and I have been involved with Save the 
Children for more than 20 years, long before we ever thought we would be 
in national political life. And as soon as this hurricane occurred, she 
gave some money from her foundation to Save the Children through 
operations here. So I thank you for what you're doing. The organization 
has done great work in our home area as well, and I thank all of you.
    This was a very good set of presentations, and you gave me a lot to 
go home and work on.

[President Carlos Roberto Flores of Honduras expressed his appreciation 
to the President and noted the representation in the audience of 
nongovernmental organizations, labor unions, private enterprise, and 
religious groups. With regard to Archbishop Rodriguez' remarks on 
immigration, President Flores said his government did not want to 
promote emigration to the United States. Regarding those who went in 
earlier days, he asked that they receive the same treatment other 
Central American countries' nationals receive by law.]

    President Clinton. Well, I think you know that I strongly believe in 
that. I think that the present American immigration law and how it 
treats people that were in our country as of some time ago is an 
inexcusable remnant of the cold war and wrong. I haven't said anything 
to you I haven't said at home. I think that--people came to the United 
States because they felt oppressed and are entitled to stay in our 
country because they came here, it shouldn't matter whether they felt 
the oppression from the left or the right. I mean, if it's a rational 
category, people should be treated the same regardless of what the facts 
are. But the real issue is that all the countries in Central America 
should be treated the same insofar as whatever the objective facts were 
that brought the people to our country. So if people should come home, 
then they should be treated the same; if people should be able to stay, 
they should be treated the same. That's what I believe.

[President Flores said he was optimistic about Honduras' recuperation 
from Hurricane Mitch but expressed concern that the difficulties it 
presented could undermine the democracy which they had fought so hard to 
attain. He said the challenge would be to show the Honduran people that 
the system works for them. He concluded by thanking the President for 

    President Clinton. Thank you. Let me just say one thing as we break 
up. I have heard this--and one of the reasons I am grateful that we have 
Members of our Congress here is that we have these bills up there; they 
can be addressed now. I think there is an overwhelming understanding in 
both parties in the Congress that we have to pass the aid bill, and I 
think the only thing that we have to do is to make sure that political 
considerations in America, that have

[[Page 390]]

nothing to do with Central America, things that are back home don't in 
any way hold up the consideration of either piece of legislation, and so 
we will work hard on it.
    Thank you.
    Oh, I have to get my key to the city. If I wear this to dinner 
tonight, I'll get a discount. [Laughter]
    Thank you.

Note: The roundtable began at 2:52 p.m. in the conference room at the 
Central Bank. In his remarks, the President referred to Pope John Paul 
II. A portion of these remarks could not be verified because the tape 
was incomplete.

[Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents]

[Page 390]
Monday, March 15, 1999
Volume 35--Number 10
Pages 377-418
Week Ending Friday, March 12, 1999
Statement on the Kennedy-Murray Amendment to Proposed Education 
Flexibility Partnership Legislation

March 9, 1999

    For the second day in a row, the Republican leadership has continued 
its efforts to stand in the way of voting on an amendment to finish the 
job of hiring 100,000 teachers to reduce class size. Communities across 
the country need to know that Congress will live up to the bipartisan 
commitment we made last fall to fund this effort. The American people 
expect us to work together to improve the education of our students. I 
call on the Republican leadership to allow an up-or-down vote on more 
teachers and smaller classes, and I call on every Senator to support the 
Murray-Kennedy measure to reduce class size and hire well-prepared 
teachers across the Nation.

[Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents]

[Page 390]
Monday, March 15, 1999
Volume 35--Number 10
Pages 377-418
Week Ending Friday, March 12, 1999
Message to the Congress Transmitting the Report of the National 
Endowment for the Arts

March 9, 1999

To the Congress of the United States:

    It is my pleasure to transmit herewith the Annual Report of the 
National Endowment for the Arts for Fiscal Year 1997.
    The Arts Endowment awards more than one thousand grants each year to 
nonprofit arts organizations for projects that bring the arts to 
millions of Americans. Once again, this year's grants reflect the 
diversity of our Nation's culture and the creativity of our artists. 
Whether seeing a classic theatrical production in Connecticut or an art 
exhibition in Arizona, whether listening to a symphony in Iowa or 
participating in a fine arts training program for inner-city students in 
Louisiana, Americans who benefit from Arts Endowment grants have 
experienced the power and joy of the arts in their lives.
    Arts Endowment grants in 1997 supported:
<bullet>    projects in theater, dance, music, visual arts, and the 
            other artistic disciplines, demonstrating that our diversity 
            is an asset--and helping us to interpret the past, 
            understand each other in the present, and envision the 
<bullet>    folk and traditional arts programs, which strengthen and 
            showcase our rich cultural heritage; and
<bullet>    arts education, which helps improve our children's skills 
            and enhances their lives with the richness of the arts.
    The arts challenge our imaginations, nourish our spirits, and help 
to sustain our democracy. We are a Nation of creators and innovators. As 
this report illustrates, the NEA continues to celebrate America's 
artistic achievements and makes the arts more accessible to the American 
                                            William J. Clinton
The White House,
March 9, 1999.

[Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents]

[Page 390-391]
Monday, March 15, 1999
Volume 35--Number 10
Pages 377-418
Week Ending Friday, March 12, 1999
Message to the Congress Transmitting the Trade Policy Agenda and a 
Report on the Trade Agreements Program

March 9, 1999

To the Congress of the United States:

    As required by section 163 of the Trade Act of 1974, as amended (19 
U.S.C. 2213), I transmit herewith the 1999 Trade Policy Agenda and the 
1998 Annual Report on the Trade Agreements Program. This report includes 
the Annual Report on the World Trade Organization, as required by 

[[Page 391]]

124 of the Uruguay Round Agreements Act (19 U.S.C. 3534).
                                            William J. Clinton
The White House,
March 9, 1999.

[Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents]

[Page 391-395]
Monday, March 15, 1999
Volume 35--Number 10
Pages 377-418
Week Ending Friday, March 12, 1999
Remarks to the Legislative Assembly of El Salvador in San Salvador

March 10, 1999

    To the president of the Legislative Assembly, thank you very much 
for your welcome and your fine comments. To the president of the Supreme 
Court, the leaders and members of the Assembly; to the other leaders 
from Central America who are here; members of the diplomatic corps; 
other distinguished public officials from El Salvador; members of the 
American delegation. Mr. President, I noticed you said you would 
officially certify the results of the recent Presidential elections 
today, so I don't want to jump the gun, but apparently, the President-
elect is here. And I'm delighted to see him as well.
    I have come to Central America with gratitude for our partnership, 
gratitude for the warm reception that my wife received when she came 
here recently, and later the wife of our Vice President, with a 
distinguished delegation of Members of Congress, heads of our Federal 
agencies, members of the White House staff, my new Special Envoy to 
Latin America, former Lieutenant Governor of Florida, Buddy MacKay, and 
    For 2 days now, we have been seeing and speaking with many different 
kinds of people in Nicaragua and Honduras, now in El Salvador, about 
efforts to recover and rebuild in the wake of Hurricane Mitch. We have 
met people who have lost everything but hope. I have been moved and 
humbled by their refusal to be defeated in the face of the deaths of 
their children, their husbands, their wives, their parents, the loss of 
all source of income.
    I am very proud and grateful that the United States, through our 
soldiers, our aid workers, and our Peace Corps volunteers, our private 
donations, have had the opportunity to work alongside the people of 
Central America in the rebuilding process.
    The message I have heard from all kinds of people is that it is not 
enough now simply to fix things which were destroyed and move on; that, 
together we must build a better life for future generations, restoring 
people's lives and livelihoods as soon as possible, in a way that 
strengthens freedom and peace and the rule of law over the long run.
    No one can forget that just a few years ago, the people of Central 
America were suffering from a legion of manmade disasters far more cruel 
than anything nature can bestow on us. There was a time not long ago 
when many in this region believed they could only defend their point of 
view at the point of a gun, a time when civil war and repression claimed 
tens of thousands of lives and cast many thousands more into exile, a 
time when farmers were pushed off their land and children were torn from 
their parents, a time which provoked, in the United States, bitter 
divisions about our role in your region.
    You have worked hard here in El Salvador to shed light on that dark 
and painful period. Now, all of us as friends and partners, can and must 
join in building a common future, determined to remember the past but 
never to repeat it.
    I hope the people of Central America now see the United States in a 
new way, as a partner, a friend, a colleague in the process of 
strengthening democracy, in reconstruction, in reclaiming your rightful 
    The wars are over. Every country in Central America now is governed 
by elected leaders accountable to their people. What once was a no-win 
contest for power has turned into a win-win contest for better schools, 
safer streets, and economic opportunity. A battlefield of ideology has 
been transformed into a marketplace of ideas. Decades of struggle have 
brought a victory for democracy, the only revolution of our time that 
has not betrayed its principles.
    In so many other parts of the world things are different. Nations 
still short-change schools and hospitals to pay for arms in the vain 
pursuit of weapons of mass destruction--not in Central America and 
certainly not in El Salvador. In so many other places in the world 
financial turmoil has undermined confidence in open markets and 
societies--not in Central America and certainly

[[Page 392]]

not in El Salvador. In so many other places people still try to resolve 
ethnic, religious, and political tensions by the force of arms rather 
than the force of argument--not in Central America. And no nation has 
traveled a greater distance to overcome deeper wounds in shorter time 
than El Salvador. You reached another plateau through your elections on 
    A hurricane can transform villages full of life into valleys of 
rubble and death. But it will not wash away the foundations of good 
government and goodwill the people of Central America have laid. It 
cannot, it will not, take away from you the power to shape your own 
    All the Central American leaders with whom I have visited have told 
me that if reconstruction is managed in the right way, if it clearly 

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