Friday, April 17, 2009

Obama: Thaw U.S.-Cuba Relations

President Obama and President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela at the Summit of the Americas in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, on Friday.
President Obama's International Relations and Charm offensive continues. Right-wingers surely are apoplectic, and urging their cohorts to buy guns before the Socialist bans 'em.

President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela and President Raúl Castro of Cuba on Thursday at a meeting of leftist governments in Venezuela on Thursday.

President Obama, seeking to thaw long-frozen relations with Cuba, told a gathering of Western Hemisphere leaders on Friday that “the United States seeks a new beginning with Cuba,” and that he was willing to have his administration engage the Castro government on a wide array of issues.

Part of his 100-day offensive.

Mr. Obama’s remarks, during the opening ceremony at the Summit of the Americas, are the clearest signal in decades that the United States is willing to change direction in its dealings with Cuba. They capped a dizzying series of developments this week, including surprisingly warm words between Raúl Castro, Cuba’s leader, and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Hillary is part and parcel of the international strategy.

Other leaders here said that in watching Mr. Obama extend his hand to Cuba, they felt they were witnessing a historic shift. And in another twist, Cuba’s strongest ally at the summit, President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela, no fan of the United States, was photographed at the meeting giving Mr. Obama a hearty handclasp and a broad smile.

It really is a historic moment. What a wonder to see.

On Cuba, the president’s words were as notable for what he said as for what he did not say. He did not scold or berate the Cuban government for holding political prisoners, as his predecessor, George W. Bush, often did.

Half a century of a failed policy is, thankfully, beginning to come to an end.

But he also did not say that he was willing to support Cuba’s membership in the Organization of American States, or lifting the 47-year-old trade embargo against Cuba, as some hemisphere leaders here want him to do.

Slowly, steadily, moving ahead. As so many other matters, this can not, and should not, be rushed.

Earlier this week Brazilian officials signaled in Rio de Janeiro that President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, potentially flanked by the Colombian president, Álvaro Uribe, would raise the issue of accepting Cuba into the Organization of American States at the summit meeting. Cuba’s “absence is an anomaly and he is waiting for this situation to be corrected,” Marco Aurélio Garcia, Mr. da Silva’s foreign policy adviser, told reporters.

Shewd; Uribe can not be faulted with being soft on Communism by even the right wing in the US. It is very encouraging to see how pragmatic President Uribe can be., a Venezuelan media outlet, has this in its website:

Chávez le dice a Obama "quiero ser tu amigo"

05:41 PM. Internacional La Quinta cumbre de las Américas comenzó esta tarde en Puerto España, capital de Trinidad y Tobago, con la presencia de 34 mandatarios del continente. Puerto Rico's absence is a neglected topic.

Bogotá's El Tiempo shows this piture on its website.

6:30 p.m.

Histórico apretón de manos entre Chávez y Obama en instalación de Cumbre de las Américas

Historic handshake between Chávez and Obama at the beginning of the Americas Summit.

El Pais from Uruguay has only a minor article. Madrid's El Pais has more, includhing this picture:

Obama ofrece a Cuba una nueva relación

Le Figaro, Paris, has an article on this summit, as well as this ridiculous item:
Les deux ex-rivales pourraient se retrouver pour un meeting près de Nantes le 27 mai.
Not that it matters what it is about; notice the word meeting. So much for Frank pride, non?

It does have an interesting picture:

Raul Castro, le leader cubain, entouré de Hugo Chavez, président venezuelien, de Manuel Zelaya, président du Honduras, et de Fernando Lugo, président du Paraguay.

Fotogalería Obama en la Cumbre de las Américas

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