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America Sought to Dictate Terms
In his first address to the Summit of the Americas, Obama affably responds to comments by Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega – a man responsible for death, destruction and the economic plunder of his own nation. Obama notes that we should not be trapped by history and suggests the need for flexibility in dealing with places like Cuba.
“…All of us must now renew the common stake that we have in one another. I know that promises of partnership have gone unfulfilled in the past, and that trust has to be earned over time. While the United States has done much to promote peace and prosperity in the hemisphere, we have at times been disengaged, and at times we sought to dictate our terms. But I pledge to you that we seek an equal partnership. (Applause.) There is no senior partner and junior partner in our relations; there is simply engagement based on mutual respect and common interests and shared values. So I’m here to launch a new chapter of engagement that will be sustained throughout my administration. (Applause.)
“To move forward, we cannot let ourselves be prisoners of past disagreements. I am very grateful that President Ortega — (applause) — I’m grateful that President Ortega did not blame me for things that happened when I was three months old. (Laughter.) Too often, an opportunity to build a fresh partnership of the Americas has been undermined by stale debates. And we’ve heard all these arguments before, these debates that would have us make a false choice between rigid, state-run economies or unbridled and unregulated capitalism; between blame for right-wing paramilitaries or left-wing insurgents; between sticking to inflexible policies with regard to Cuba or denying the full human rights that are owed to the Cuban people.[i]
Interestingly, while he strikes an apologetic tone by voicing his perception that the U.S. has, “at times been disengaged, and at times sought to dictate our terms,”(in Latin America), he makes no similar apology for attempting to overrule the Honduran Constitutional process by demanding the return to power of their ousted President, Manuel Zelaya.
[i] President Barack Obama, (April 17, 2009), White House web-site, Remarks by the President at the Summit of the Americas Opening Ceremony, retrieved December 7, 2011 from http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/remarks-president-summit-americas-opening-ceremony