July 25, 1983

The President. Well, first let me welcome you all to the White House. I don't need to welcome Russell Train of the Wildlife Fund. Russell's more at home here than I am. [Laughter] He served in two administrations, and this is my first. [Laughter] I'm pleased that we have representatives of other conservation groups here today, as well.

But let me say how proud I am to present the J. Paul Getty Wildlife Conservation Prize. This is the largest award given specifically for outstanding service to wildlife conservation. This honor is so distinguished it's often been likened to a Nobel Prize for conservation. And our award winners today deserve that distinction: Alvaro Ugalde, Director of the National Park Service of Costa Rica, and Mario Boza, who is Costa Rica's first Park Service Director. They have contributed greatly to building their country's park system. And you gentlemen have my warmest congratulations.

They have a genuine treasure to protect. Someone has told me that Costa Rica's wildlife includes more than 850 bird species, 205 mammals, 150 amphibians, 210 reptiles, and 700 species of butterflies.

Well, I'm always using Costa Rica as a positive example for Central America. It's more than that, however. Costa Rica is a positive example for the entire world -- a model of democracy and political stability that all nations could do well to emulate.

Costa Rica's strength flows from the fact that the people choose their own leadership through the ballot box. And this is what we wish for Costa Rica's neighbors and for all nations. This is why we're helping countries in Central America defend themselves against those who would see them under the authoritarian rule of communism.

Costa Rica exemplifies what democracy is all about. It's no surprise that Costa Rica, throughout several political administrations, has demonstrated great leadership in the conservation and wise management of natural resources.

I'm especially pleased that the strong conservation leadership demonstrated by Costa Rica has earned the continuing support of private, voluntary organizations in the United States, such as the World Wildlife Fund, the Nature Conservancy, and the New York Zoological Society. I could talk to you all morning about the role that private initiative can play in solving so many of the problems that face us. And I think the World Wildlife Fund -- U.S. embodies to the fullest what the private sector can accomplish. I want to recognize its sponsorship of the prize that we're handing out here today.

So, again, congratulations to our award winners for their fine public service not only to Costa Rica but to all of us who place the importance on wildlife conservation that we do. And we thank you all.

And now, Mario Andres Boza.

[At this point, the President presented the award to Mr. Boza.]

Mr. Boza. Thank you, Mr. President.

The President. Alvaro Ugalde.

[The President presented Mr. Ugalde with his award.]

Mr. Ugalde. Thank you.

The President. It's a pleasure to have you here.

Mr. Train. Mr. President, can I put our Panda pin on you?

The President. Yes.

[At this point, Mr. Train pinned the Panda pin on the President's lapel.]

Mr. Train. That makes you a member of the World Wildlife Fund.

The President. Thank you very much.

Mr. Train. Thank you, Mr. President.

The President. I appreciate this very much, and I'm very honored and pleased to have it. On our own ranch out in California, we have an awful lot of wildlife. And it's still there. And, as a matter of fact, if the Treasury agents won't object to my telling this experience, one day, one of them hung duty up on a hill up above the ranch house, came down, and he looked a little wild-eyed -- or wide-eyed, I should say. And finally he spoke, because he wasn't quite sure that what had just happened to him was something that you just normally expect around the ranch or whether it was a little unusual.

He'd been sitting there doing his duty and looking out over the place. And he still sat there very quietly when a mountain lion just strolled by. [Laughter] And I told him we knew that they were around, but what had happened was a little unusual, and he probably had done exactly the right thing. [Laughter]

Well, thank you very much.

Mr. Train. Thank you again, Mr. President.

The President. Thank you all.

Note: The President spoke at 11:30 a.m. in the Rose Garden at the White House, where he presented the seventh annual Getty Prize to the 1983 winners.

Russell E. Train is president of the World Wildlife Fund -- U.S.

Statement by Deputy Press Secretary Speakes on the Situation in Central America

July 25, 1983

There has been planning for a combined U.S.-Honduran military exercise to take place this year, but since planning is still underway, we cannot provide specifics at this time. The U.S. has conducted combined military exercises with Honduras and other nations in the world before and will do so again. This series of combined exercises involving U.S. and Latin American forces began in 1965. Such exercises pose no threat to any nation. They play a crucial role in training of troops and support personnel of our own forces and those of the host country.

The recent deployment of the U.S.S. Ranger carrier group in the Pacific is for training purposes and to demonstrate our interest in the Central American region. As plans for the joint exercise are developed, we will consult with Members of Congress.

We have consistently expressed our support for a political solution to the problems in Central America, not a military one. We fully support the proposals for a lessening of tensions in the region expressed in the Final Act of the San Jose Conference of last October. We support the Contadora process and other regional initiatives to ease tensions in the area. Ambassador [Richard B.] Stone, the President's special envoy, is currently on his third trip to the area and is conveying to the Governments of the Contadora Four countries of Colombia, Mexico, Venezuela, and Panama a Presidential message which conveys our continuing support to the Contadora process. The recent Presidential appointment of a National Bipartisan Commission on Central America is an additional indication of this government's long-term interest in that part of the world.

Our commitment to a political solution and to the strengthening of democracy and economic development in Central America is clear. Democracy and economic development, however, must have a basis in security, and our military aid to our allies, as well as our efforts to help them strengthen their own defensive capabilities, are designed to increase their security and thus shield the growth of democratic processes, economic development, dialog, and negotiations.

Our policy toward Central America is based on the four principles outlined by the President in his April 27 speech to the joint session of Congress: support for democracy, development, dialog, and the necessary military assistance to provide a shield for the first three. As a practical manner, all four aspects are interdependent, and we are continuing to evolve practical steps to implement all the facets of that policy.