WASHINGTON — President Bush and Venezuelan President Carlos Andres Perez, meeting the day after a freely-elected government took power in Nicaragua, hailed the spread of democracy and vowed Thursday to seek freedom for all of the Americas.
"Today, another nation has joined freedom's ranks. For the people of all the Americas this is a time for celebration," Bush said at a welcoming ceremony for Perez. "And more than that it is a time to dedicate ourselves to the day, perhaps not so distant, when all the people of this hemisphere live in freedom and democracy."
Bush did not mention Cuba directly, but he has frequently cited the island nation as the lone holdout against a fully democratic hemisphere.
Perez, who was deeply involved in efforts to negotiate a regional peace settlement in Central America and has committed Venezuelan troops to a U.N. force supervising the disbanding of Nicaragua's Contras, said that Latin America is joining a global march of freedom.
He is joyful, he said, over "the new surge of democratization which is sweeping the world and undoing in its wake the age of Cold War."
"Latin America has made progress. We have become free of dictatorship and our democracies are becoming consolidated."