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December 17, 1961


Caracas, Venezuela (JFK+50) President John F. Kennedy laid a wreath at the tomb of Simon Bolivar here in Caracas this morning.

Simon Bolivar played a major role in the independence movement in Latin America.  Through his leadership, Bolivia, Ecuador, Colombia & Venezuela won their independence from Spain.

Bolivar, who died at the age of 47, is buried in the National Pantheon of Venezuela.

JFK said:

“The new spirit of this hemisphere requires the elimination of all tyranny until this is a continent….of free men living under a system of liberty.”

                    Statue of Simon Bolivar
                           Washington, D.C.
                    Photo by Jyothis (2009)

December 17, 1961


Bogota, Colombia (JFK+50) President & Mrs. John F. Kennedy arrived here in Bogota today after a flight on Air Force One from Venezuela.

The Kennedys were greeted at Eldorado Airport by President Alberto Lleras Camargo.

500,000 Colombians lined the streets for JFK’s motorcade into the city.

In a speech, JFK said:

“Those….who love freedom realize a man is not really free if he doesn’t have a roof over his head, or if he can’t educate his children, or if he cannot find work, or if he cannot find security in his old age.”

The President, as he had done in Venezuela, discussed his Alliance for Progress program which is designed, in his own words, “to help improve the welfare of the people of Latin America.”

                 Alberto Lleras Camargo
                   President of Colombia

Remarks Upon Arrival 
El Dorado Airport
Bogota, Colombia
December 17, 1961

“Mr. President:

I want to express my great appreciation to you & to the people of this country for their generous welcome.

The relations which have existed between the U.S. & Colombia (go) back to the earliest days….& it is a source of pride to me, & I’m sure…to you, that this country was the 1st of all the countries of Latin America that broke relations with the Axis at the beginning of WWII, & was the only country that sent a detachment to fight with great distinction (in Korea).

So I come here today to express our warm feeling of friendship, with great sincerity, to the people of this country.  

We believe in freedom–in the United States & in Colombia.

We are opposed to tyranny of any kind.  We are for the social justice of our people, because we recognize that we cannot have freedom unless all of our people have an equal opportunity to the advantages of a productive life–homes–education–work.

These are the things to which the Alliance for Progress….is committed.  

And therefore, Mr. President, it is particularly appropriate that I should come to this country where you have taken so many steps to put into actual implementation the ideals &…practices to which we are committed.”

President John F. Kennedy

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