Obama Gets History Lesson From Latin American Leaders

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via Bloomberg

April 18 (Bloomberg) — Latin American leaders railed against the U.S. during President Barack Obama’s first trip to the region, turning what was intended to mark a new direction in relations into a history lesson that chastised “Yankee troop” interventions and U.S.-dictated economic policies.

Obama arrived at the Fifth Summit of the Americas in Trinidad and Tobago yesterday promising to “listen and learn” from regional leaders. He got an earful.

In the weekend’s first speeches, Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega and Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner voiced grievances on issues ranging from the U.S. drug war to American support for counterinsurgency movements of the 1980s. Both urged Obama to end the 47-year-old trade embargo against Cuba, the only country in the Americas excluded from the 34-nation summit.

“For many years, there have been traumatic relations,” Fernandez said. “I want you to know, Obama, that this is in no way a reproach against you. It’s simply an exercise to look back at what happened.”

Obama is trying to revive U.S. influence in Latin America that waned under President George W. Bush as the war on terror diverted attention to the Middle East and the region expanded economic and diplomatic ties with U.S. rivals such as Russia and China. Continue reading

Obama: ‘We can move U.S.-Cuban relations in a new direction’

obamachavez04

via CNN

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad and Tobago (CNN) — President Obama said Friday he is seeking “a new beginning” in U.S. relations with Cuba.

Before addressing the representatives of 34 countries at the Summit of the Americas, Obama and Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez saw each other and shook hands.

“Every one of our nations has a right to follow its own path,” Obama told the assembly. “But we all have a responsibility to see that the people of the Americas have the ability to pursue their own dreams in democratic societies.obama_cuba

“Toward that end, the United States seeks a new beginning with Cuba.”

Obama arrived in Trinidad and Tobago on Friday evening for the Summit of the Americas, a key meeting of hemispheric powers. Although it was not represented at the talks, the subject of Cuba dominated the president’s speech.

In prepared remarks, Obama said that “decades of mistrust” must be overcome, but noted that he has already loosened restrictions that limited Americans from traveling to visit relatives in Cuba and from sending money to them.

Obama lifted all restrictions Monday on the ability of individuals to visit relatives in Cuba, as well as to send them remittances. Continue reading