Address by President Nelson Mandela on receiving the Freedom of the City of Buenos Aires, Argentina

22 July 1998

Honourable Head of the City of Buenos Aires,
Ladies and Gentlemen;

It is one of the privileges of high office to receive honours on behalf of the people one represents. Each such occasion is deeply moving, because it represents the bonds of humanity which join us with those who share our deepest aspirations, wherever they are.

In conferring the freedom of your city on me, I know that you are paying tribute to the achievements of the whole South African nation, who have overcome their divided past and joined hands to build a better life for all.

In their name, I expresses our appreciation and deepest thanks to the City of Buenos Aires for sharing with us the sense of community and citizenship of your vital and vibrant metropolis, and of your dynamic country. We shall always remain deeply moved by this recognition.

Indeed, this accolade is made all the more moving because it is being granted a city that commemorates an illustrious freedom fighter, General Jose Francisco De San Martin, the liberator of Argentina and of other countries in South America. We are inspired by his dedication to the eradication of oppression and colonialism and to the attainment of freedom for all.

South Africa recalls with gratitude Argentina's part in the international community's actions to exert pressure on the apartheid regime. With your support the people of South Africa ushered in a new era, an era of democracy and human rights dedicated to the dignity of all its citizens and their upliftment.

Mr Mayor,

Our countries are neighbours across the Atlantic Ocean. Your magnificent city shares the same geographic latitude as our beloved Cape Town. I believe that it takes a mere ten hours to fly from Cape Town to Buenos Aires and even less to fly from Buenos Aires to Cape Town because of the trade winds which speed the journey of those travelling to our fair land and to our hospitable people. I add my voice to the call of the swift winds beckoning people to our shores, as if to say: "Visit South Africa; invest in South Africa; seek out trade with South Africa".

The honour which the people of Buenos Aires have bestowed on us today will be an inspiration to us as we use our freedom to consolidate our democracy, entrench our human rights, and work together as a nation to improve the lives of all our people.

As we do so we take heart from the vigorous efforts of the Argentine Nation to consolidate its own democracy in the aftermath of its difficult and painful recent past.

It is my fervent wish that the citizens of Buenos Aires and indeed all of the citizens of Argentine will again join hands with us as we face new and even greater challenges. Let us work together for the mutual benefit of our peoples and of all the developing world.

I thank you

Issued by: Office of the President

Source: South African Government Information Website