President Bush ended a weeklong goodwill tour of South America Saturday, saying his visit had affirmed his belief that the Americas were entering a new era of democracy and economic cooperation.
"The United States and Latin America are developing a new understanding of each other. We are at long last working together in a spirit of mutual respect, for the greater good of the Americas," Bush said in remarks to Venezuelan and American business leaders.Bush, who has visited five nations since leaving Washington last Sunday, set few concrete goals for the tour. He has disclosed few fresh achievements beyond a renewal of ties and a celebration of the wave of democracy that has swept over this continent in the past decade.
"This trip has reinforced what I have long believed," he said in summing up the visit.
"Latin America today is a profile in courage because the people of this continent, shopkeepers and students, political leaders and trade unionists, have struggled, sacrificed and died to restore the rule of law and defend democracy.
"Cities once under martial law, peoples once living in fear, are now reborn in hope," he said.
Bush's trip was marred by a military uprising in Argentina just a few days before his arrival, by two minor bombing incidents in Santiago just hours before his visit, and by demonstrations in all the countries he visited.
But he was generally warmly received by the crowds and lavishly praised by the leaders in all five countries he visited.
Bush repeatedly praised the new emergence of freely elected regimes in so many Latin countries.
"Just look at what has happened in one decade," Bush said at a state dinner in Caracas Friday.
"Democracy has been restored in Argentina, Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia, Brazil, Uruguay, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Hunduras, Chile and Paraguay, leaving Cuba as the lonely totalitarian holdout in our hemisphere."
He offered little in the way of new U.S. aid or promises of investment.
Instead he urged the nations he visited to stick to their pursuit of economic reforms, debt restructuring and trade expansion despite the temporary pains this strategy might inflict.
Bush also received strong support from the five leaders for his Persian Gulf policy, in which he is using a massive troop buildup, United Nations trade sanctions and 11 U.N. Security Council resolutions to pressure Iraq to quit Kuwait.