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Obama Publishes Op-Ed in Advance of Summit of the Americas

By Garance Franke-Ruta
President Obama wrote an op-ed that ran today in 15 Carribean, Latin American and United States newspapers, promising the other nations of the hemisphere "a new day" in their relationship to its most powerful member.

"Choosing a Better Future in the Americas" appeared this morning in the St. Petersburg Times and Miami Herald, both of which serve substantial Cuban American readerships, and the Trinidad Express of Trinidad and Tobago, where Obama is headed to tomorrow to attend the Summit of the Americas than runs through April 19. As well, the op-ed ran in El Nuevo Herald, an American Spanish-language paper.

The op-ed also ran in a number of Grupo de Diarios America affiliates across the hemisphere: La Nación in Argentina, O Globo in Brazil, El Mercurio in Chile, El Tiempo in Colombia, La Nación in Costa Rica, El Comercio in Ecuador, El Universal in México, El Comercio in Perú, El Nuevo Día in Puerto Rico, El País in Uruguay and El Nacional in Venezuela.

The English version of President Obama's op-ed, which was published in Spanish and Portuguese, follows:

Choosing a Better Future in the Americas
By President Barack Obama

As we approach the Summit of the Americas, our hemisphere is faced with a clear choice. We can overcome our shared challenges with a sense of common purpose, or we can stay mired in the old debates of the past. For the sake of all our people, we must choose the future.

Too often, the United States has not pursued and sustained engagement with our neighbors. We have been too easily distracted by other priorities, and have failed to see that our own progress is tied directly to progress throughout the Americas. My Administration is committed to the promise of a new day. We will renew and sustain a broader partnership between the United States and the hemisphere on behalf of our common prosperity and our common security.

In advance of the Summit, we have begun to move in a new direction. This week, we amended a Cuba policy that has failed for decades to advance liberty or opportunity for the Cuban people. In particular, the refusal to allow Cuban Americans to visit or provide resources to their families on the island made no sense - particularly after years of economic hardship in Cuba, and the devastating hurricanes that took place last year. Now, that policy has changed.

The U.S.-Cuba relationship is one example of a debate in the Americas that is too often dragged back to the 20th century. To confront our economic crisis, we don't need a debate about whether to have a rigid, state-run economy or unbridled and unregulated capitalism - we need pragmatic and responsible action that advances our common prosperity. To combat lawlessness and violence, we don't need a debate about whether to blame right-wing paramilitaries or left-wing insurgents - we need practical cooperation to expand our common security.

We must choose the future over the past, because we know that the future holds enormous opportunities if we work together. That is why leaders from Santiago to Brasilia to Mexico City are focused on a renewed partnership of the Americas that makes progress on fundamental issues like economic recovery, energy, and security.

There is no time to lose. The global economic crisis has hit the Americas hard, particularly our most vulnerable populations. Years of progress in combating poverty and inequality hangs in the balance. The United States is working to advance prosperity in the hemisphere by jumpstarting our own recovery. In doing so, we will help spur trade, investment, remittances, and tourism that provides a broader base for prosperity in the hemisphere.

We also need collective action. At the recent G-20 Summit, the United States pledged to seek nearly half a billion dollars in immediate assistance for vulnerable populations, while working with our G-20 partners to set aside substantial resources to help countries through difficult times. We have called upon the Inter-American Development Bank to maximize lending to restart the flow of credit, and stand ready to examine the needs and capacity of the IDB going forward. And we are working to put in place tough, clear 21st century rules of the road to prevent the abuses that caused the current crisis.

While we confront this crisis, we must build a new foundation for long-term prosperity. One area that holds out enormous promise is energy. Our hemisphere has bountiful natural resources that could make renewable energy plentiful and sustainable, while creating jobs for our people. In the process, we can confront climate change that threatens rising sea levels in the Caribbean, diminishing glaciers in the Andes, and powerful storms on the Gulf Coast of the United States.

Together, we have both the responsibility to act, and the opportunity to leave behind a legacy of greater prosperity and security. That is why I look forward to pursuing a new Energy and Climate Partnership of the Americas that will help us learn from one another, share technologies, leverage investment, and maximize our comparative advantage.
Just as we advance our common prosperity, we must advance our common security. Too many in our hemisphere are forced to live in fear. That is why the United States will strongly support respect for the rule of law, better law enforcement, and stronger judicial institutions.

Security for our citizens must be advanced through our commitment to partner with those who are courageously battling drug cartels, gangs and other criminal networks throughout the Americas. Our efforts start at home. By reducing demand for drugs and curtailing the illegal flow of weapons and bulk cash south across our border, we can advance security in the United States and beyond. And going forward, we will sustain a lasting dialogue in the hemisphere to ensure that we are building on best practices, adapting to new threats, and coordinating our efforts.

Finally, the Summit gives every democratically-elected leader in the Americas the opportunity to reaffirm our shared values. Each of our countries has pursued its own democratic journey, but we must be joined together in our commitment to liberty, equality, and human rights. That is why I look forward to the day when every country in the hemisphere can take its seat at the table consistent with the Inter-American Democratic Charter. And just as the United States seeks that goal in reaching out to the Cuban people, we expect all of our friends in the hemisphere to join together in supporting liberty, equality, and human rights for all Cubans.

This Summit offers the opportunity of a new beginning. Advancing prosperity, security and liberty for the people of the Americas depends upon 21st century partnerships, freed from the posturing of the past. That is the leadership and partnership that the United States stands ready to provide.

Posted at 12:27 PM ET on Apr 16, 2009  | Category:  Primary Source
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Please email us to report offensive comments.

North America = bad and evil, the worst of the worst! Lazy, antipathy, racist, anti-oneworldorder, must be destroyed!

Cuba = freedom and light, CHE BABY!!! Socialist freedom, must base our country's government on this!

Mexico = better workers than Americans, let's hire them all and kick Americans out of work. Then the mexicans can pay all the taxes for Americans to live on welfare.

South America = all of the above, except the opposite of North America.

Sounds about right, according to O, Nan and Harry.

Posted by: a12iggymom | April 17, 2009 5:47 PM


How do you argue that Cuba is among the best educated in the hemisphere? They have no money to provide food and medicine to their citizens, how do they provide books and materials?

And don't even think to say that its because of the "blockade". America is the leading provider of food and medicine to the island, yet the Cuban people have seen none of it.

Why would Cubans want to return to an "exploitative ruling class" when they have one already right now? Castro is estimated to be worth nearly $1 billion, yet the Cuban people live in poverty, making an average of $20 a month.

How do you argue that Cubans don't want a McDonald's or Starbucks when thousands have and continue to risk their lives to escape the island to the US?

I don't believe you've spoken to any Cubans on or off the island. They'll tell you of the rampant racism, the punishing poverty, and the fearfulness of constantly being monitored by the government. They'll tell you of how it's illegal to speak your own mind. As a dissident in Cuba said, "When will the other Guantanamo's be closed?"

I applaud Obama's decision to allow more Cuban-Americans to visit and help their families so they can think more on demanding democracy rather than worrying about their next meal.

Posted by: ironchief | April 17, 2009 2:57 AM

Oops, wrong story. My apologies. Intended for DHS report posting.

Posted by: nodebris | April 17, 2009 1:00 AM

1) The report was written by a Bush appointee,

2) A similar report was written about left-wing groups, and

3) The report said that fringe groups were trying to recruit ex-military, with little success.

But I guess if you are looking to take umbrage and don't sweat the facts, there was enough there to work with.

Posted by: nodebris | April 17, 2009 12:57 AM

It is good that Obama is talking to Latin America. The country needs to prioritize its foreign policy goals eg jihadi terrorism, China and the economy. Latin America is important, precisely because it plays a role in each of those global priorities

Posted by: manishyt | April 16, 2009 9:17 PM

Oh, O.K., a "joke". Not sure, though, what "character" you think I am portraying here.

Posted by: JakeD | April 16, 2009 7:15 PM

Ah Cuba.. they dared defy the empire, right in their own backyard. They were also the first to beat us in war, bay of pigs. The little David kicked the giant's behind; and now the giant is afraid to play with little David.

Posted by: barbablanca | April 16, 2009 7:10 PM

JakeD breaks character.

It's a JOKE -- like your posts!

Lighten up, Renegade.

Posted by: scrivener50 | April 16, 2009 6:58 PM

I am ... what? Are you accusing me of being a Secret Service agent, divulging top secret travel plans?!

Posted by: JakeD | April 16, 2009 6:18 PM

TO: JakeD @ 5:38

"No connection." "Lucky guess."

No "connection" b/c U R.

Got it.

Posted by: scrivener50 | April 16, 2009 6:13 PM

ah yes, the proverbial "opening up of Cuba".

Michael Corleone would approve.

Posted by: TheBabeNemo | April 16, 2009 5:59 PM

I have no SS connection. Just a lucky guess.

Posted by: JakeD | April 16, 2009 5:38 PM

TO: JakeD @ 4:43 p.m.

Roger that.

Posted by: scrivener50 | April 16, 2009 5:20 PM


You've never seen my posts, have you?

Posted by: JakeD | April 16, 2009 4:49 PM

Wow! President Obama just in office shy of 100 days, and who can deny the fact-- this is a 'working president. Indeed!

He's absolutely right about our relationships with neighbors in the southern hemisphere. My greatest hope-- that the 'drug' trade among places such as Columbia, Haiti, Jamaica will be crushed! Yes, when law and order abides in those developing countries.. the home front is safer, and for all concerned.

On the issue of Cuba one must agree-- after years of a rigid embargo nothing has been resolved. Castro ages and in time will be gone.

So now is a good time to take another look at that policy. Not to mention, why continue the 'pain' among families who have been denied the right to visit and support relatives in need? Its a small start...but its a beginning.

My eyes remain on the economy and how that rising 'boat' will LIFT me up. But in the interim I say 'kudos' to Mr. Obama and his efforts to lead in a meaningful way.

Posted by: Victoria5 | April 16, 2009 4:44 PM

"SS" as in Secret Service, Presidential Protective Detail?

Posted by: JakeD | April 16, 2009 4:43 PM

To: JakeD @ 4:24 p.m.

If he did, you'd say he was "Castro Convertible." "Sneaking into Cuba," like you said he was "sneaking into Iraq."

What's your SS connection, JakeD?

Posted by: scrivener50 | April 16, 2009 4:39 PM


THAT, was just sooooooo;


Posted by: SAINT---The | April 16, 2009 4:35 PM

As usual, Limbaugh's 27% have nothing better to do but sit back, be cynical, eat sour grapes and lick their wounds over the last election.

Wouldn't it be nice if they combined all the energy they use to make their hot air into something positive for America?

Posted by: coloradodog | April 16, 2009 4:32 PM


(Special to Asst. Atty. Gen./Civil Rights Tom Perez; staff, please forward)

"Innocent but targeted."

"Extrajudicial punishment network."

"Microwave Radiation Weapon."

"Domestic Torture."

"DOJ Memos Used As Legal Cover..."


Google one or more of the above.

Then ask yourself:

Where's the hope?

Where's the change?

If not now -- when?

¡Que lastima!



Posted by: scrivener50 | April 16, 2009 4:28 PM

I wonder if Obama will (secretly?) meet with Castro on this trip?

Posted by: JakeD | April 16, 2009 4:24 PM

Obama's op-ed is a perfect example of how to make the status quo sound like change. Allowing Cuban-Americans to visit more frequently and send unlimited amounts of money to relatives on the island fits well with the US government's ongoing efforts to undermine the current Cuban government. This slight opening is to be welcomed, but it is doubtful that as a strategy it will work any better than the past half century of subversion and blockade. Cuba, arguably, is the best educated nation in the hemisphere and its citizens are not fools. Most Cubans do not look forward to a McDonalds or Starbucks on every corner and reject the American model of unbridled capitalism with its unconscionable inequities between rich and poor, rampant individualism, lack of universal health care, second class education and rejection of community. The idea of returning Cuba to an exploitative ruling class that high-tailed it to Miami in the 1960s is not in the books despite the wishful thinking of right-wing pundits and the inane comments of tourists, legal or illegal, who spend a cheap one-week vacation on Cuba's beaches. But they should not worry unduly, it seems highly unlikely that Obama plans to change significantly the US's punative and imperialistic policies toward this small island nation, the other countries of Latin America nothwithstanding. Plus ça change.

Posted by: loberg | April 16, 2009 4:14 PM

Place your bets.

By tomorrow Obama, will be apologizing to the Mexicans for the Alamo.

Posted by: dashriprock | April 16, 2009 4:02 PM

Ohhhhh, LOL! :-D

Don't think for one second that the Monies being sent back-while we have to supply Food Stamps, SCHIPs, Housing Assistance, and more Welfare to the "Senders";

is what this Dude is talking about!-Unless maybe if it applies to the Cubanos!?

Then, "Spaniards" en Messico?

Senor Slim, the Rich Guy, is JEWISH!

Posted by: SAINT---The | April 16, 2009 3:52 PM

I wonder how long it will take the "Americas" to figure out what Europeans have, that Obama is a jive talking dunce?

Remittances is what the illegals send back to Mexico, so it's not necessary to have a real economy. That way the Spanish in charge of Mexico can keep the elite life style, while the peasants don't starve.

Posted by: 10ksnooker | April 16, 2009 3:46 PM


By "remittances" I believe he means the money that immigrants to the U.S. send to their families back home...

Posted by: grimesman | April 16, 2009 3:42 PM


I'd sure like to know what this Dude is implying by THAT!

Best I can figure, he MUST be meaning getting re-payed for all the Invested Capital from the US Venezuela, Cuba, Chile, Ecuador, Bolivia, and Nicaragua have STOLEN!

He sure as hell better not be implying WE owe anyone anything!

Posted by: SAINT---The | April 16, 2009 3:29 PM

i find it interesting that weapons became the focus instead of lowly marijuana.

all i heard on CNN was the "marijuana problem"...


Posted by: TheBabeNemo | April 16, 2009 2:29 PM

I love this President.

well jakey - you must not be in "sales" then.
besides, it's not like the Prez is travelling with his hairdresser, interior designer, makeup artist and astrologer like your God's wife did for 8 years.
that would be Nancy Reagan.

Posted by: TheBabeNemo | April 16, 2009 2:24 PM

The Summit of the Americas is going to force the hand of gun regulations - and The NRA should own their role in advocating less regulations - which had the unintended consequence of promoting the smuggling of modern weapons to the Drug Cartels. ..........

Posted by: glclark4750 | April 16, 2009 2:15 PM

Posted by: JakeD | April 16, 2009 12:36 PM

Wouldn't it be cheaper in this economic CRISIS to have simply published the op ed and NOT flown Air Force One, etc. all over the globe?

Posted by: JakeD | April 16, 2009 12:30 PM

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