Obama Tells Brazil’s Lula He Wants to See Now a Gesture of Cuba

Obama shakes hands with Chavez Barack Obama, the American president, in a call to Brazilian president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva on Thursday, April 16, told Brazil's leader that he expected some gesture of Havana in the area of human rights before going ahead in his policy of normalizing relations with Cuba.

On Friday, Obama pledged to seek a "new beginning" in ties with the Castro brothers ruled Cuba as part of a new era of US partnership and engagement with Latin America and the Caribbean. But he also pointed out he had come to speak about the future, not the past.

"We cannot let ourselves be prisoners of past disagreements," Obama told the opening session of the Fifth Summit of the Americas in Port Spain, Trinidad Tobago. Obama promised US cooperation to help the region fight the effects of the global economic crisis and confront the challenges of climate change and insecurity posed by drug-trafficking and kidnapping.

But he made a point of referring to Cuba, whose government has been at ideological odds with Washington for half a century following Fidel Castro's 1959 revolution.

"The United States seeks a new beginning with Cuba. I know there is a longer journey that must be traveled in overcoming decades of mistrust, but there are critical steps we can take toward a new day," Obama said in his address to warm applause.

"Over the past two years, I have indicated – and I repeat today – that I am prepared to have my administration engage with the Cuban government on a wide range of issues – from human rights, free speech and democratic reform to drugs, migration and economic issues," he added.

His speech before 33 other leaders from the hemisphere came a day after Cuban President Raul Castro had said his government was ready to talk about "everything" with the United States, including political prisoners and press freedom.

Earlier this week, Obama relaxed parts of the 47-year-old US trade embargo against Cuba, and the conciliatory signals from both sides have raised hopes across the hemisphere of a historic rapprochement between Washington and Havana.

Cuba is excluded from the Trinidad meeting of 34 leaders since it was expelled from the Organization of American States in 1962, and in the past has angrily rejected any attempt to link an improvement in ties with Washington with internal reform.

Regional heads of state, from Brazil's Lula da Silva to Venezuela's Hugo Chavez, have called on Obama to end the long-standing US embargo against Cuba.

In his speech, Obama promised to work with countries in the hemisphere to help the region confront the recession, stimulate economic growth and create jobs.

"We recognize that we have a special responsibility as one of the world's financial centers, to work with partners around the globe to reform a failed regulatory system – so that we can prevent the kinds of financial abuses that led to this current crisis from ever happening again," he said.

Vowing "aggressive action to reduce our demand for drugs and to stop the flow of guns and bulk cash south across our border," he announced a new initiative to invest US$ 30 million to strengthen cooperation on security in the Caribbean.

In his rambling speech to the opening session, former guerrilla leader Ortega said he was "ashamed" to be attending a summit at which Cuba was not present, and he sharply criticized the United States' history in the region.

Obama said in his address: "I think it is important to recognize, given the historic suspicions, that the United States policy should not be interference in other countries."

"But that also means that we can't blame the United States for every problem that arises in the hemisphere, that is part of the bargain; that is part of the change that has to take place. That is the old way, we need a new way," he added.

Obama's special adviser for the summit, former US diplomat Jeffrey Davidow, told the Washington Post newspaper earlier this week: "He (Obama) is going to Trinidad with the intention of listening, discussing and dealing with his colleagues as partners."

Obama is expected to try and repeat the public-relations success of his recent trip to Europe, where he charmed leaders and populations without really achieving any of his goals of getting the Europeans to spend more stimulus money and send more troops to Afghanistan.

First Step

Argentina's president Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner said that the Trinidad and Tobago summit "should be the first step for a new regional order" and recalled the previous summit in Argentina had signaled "an inflection point for the continent."

Delivering the first speech at the opening of the Fifth Summit of the Americas Mrs. Kirchner also spoke of the "anachronism that the blockade on the sister republic of Cuba means today" and demanded that Washington end the embargo, although recognizing the Obama administration efforts to eliminate the "absurd restrictions" imposed by former president George Bush.

She added that Cuba has expressed "total willingness to talk with the United States on all issues, which makes us believe that we are facing a second chance to build a new relation we can't let go by."

The Argentine president insisted with the 2005 Mar del Plata summit saying that then "different countries with different histories and ideas said no to FTAA (the free trade association of the Americas sponsored by Washington)" and with this attitude also "marked the beginning of a new way of thinking in our countries."

"We stood firmly on our ideas and experiences and gave a reply to what had been for decades a traumatic relation: first with the Cold War and then the East-West conflict which for us meant dictatorships and paradoxes," said Cristina Kirchner.

Among the paradoxes Ms Kirchner mentioned the expulsion of Cuba from OAS (Organization of American States) in 1962 with the argument it had adhered to Marxism-Leninism, which allegedly violated the principle of hemispheric unity consecrated in the TIAR (Inter-American Reciprocal Assistance Treaty).

"Which in 1982 did not prevent aggression on Argentina from a country not belonging to the hemisphere and no TIAR doctrine was enforced," in reference to the United Kingdom and the Falkland Islands war.

She added that now the "great challenge was integration and the non interference in our countries affairs" and ensuring "the region's economies can count with the instruments that can help with sustainability."

Mrs Kirchner also called for a quick refunding of multilateral organizations such as the Inter American Development Bank so "with different plans we can award continuity and sustainability to the expansion of our emerging economies."

Finally Cristina said that in the last four years the hemisphere economies had expanded vigorously and in Argentina in particular "the most significant growth in the last 200 years was achieved."

"This has meant social advances which today are threatened by the international financial collapse in which we had no responsibility at all. So it's essential we build a new regional order which takes into account the advances and transformations of a world which will not be the same. This means not subordination but collaboration and cooperation."

Cristina Kirchner underlined that the Washington Consensus was "a tragedy for our economies" but was quick to point out President Barack Obama "was not responsible for that system or the bipolar world."

"In the last four years the world has changed dramatically," said Mrs. Kirchner and President Obama is "clear evidence" of those changes.

"It was unthinkable that a union leader such as Lula da Silva, a member of indigenous peoples as Evo Morales in Bolivia in the nineties could have been elected presidents."

"These last four years have seen the collapse of the 2005 world, with an only way of interpreting economics, ignoring states and with the only presence of markets to rule and fix it all," concluded the Argentine president.

Let's Be Friends

Obama and Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez shared a friendly handshake at the start of the summit. The Venezuelan government called the handshake "historic" and hinted that it was the first step toward thawing chilly relations between the two nations.

"Before the start of the inaugural session of the Fifth Summit of the Americas, the president of the United States Barack Obama approached the president of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela Hugo Chávez and offered him a greeting," according to a statement released by the Venezuelan government.

"Both leaders gave their hands in a historic greeting, after several years of tensions with the Bush administration, when the relations between Washington and Caracas had deteriorated."

The Venezuelan state news agency released a photo of the friendly casual handshake, with Obama with his hand warmly on Chávez' shoulder.

"With this same hand, I greeted Bush eight years ago," Chávez said. "I want to be your friend."

Chávez, the government reiterated, has said "on several occasions that all he expects is for the United States to respect Venezuela and its sovereignty."



  • Show Comments (17)

  • forrest allen brown

    what ship are you on ?
    dove on many ships in 200-2003 in san juan
    dove on the russian concret ship stuck in the moth of the port .
    then several mersik ships over by the old molasas docks

    was at ancor out of san juan bay marina
    we were part of the crew that removed all the broken ships and boats at the point and in the bay

    Joao glad to here it did no real damage to your PC
    saying one is sorry is not a sign of weakness but a show of respct to one another for
    mis judge ment on ones part

  • The Guest

    “Great to hear from you again. Did you return from your trip recently? We have been reading so much about the problems with the pirates in that part of the world and hope you didn’t get hassled.”

    Great to hear from you also. I completed working on the 9th of April and have been in Miami since then taking care of some business here before I travel to Brazil on Thursday.

    We have not been back to the Middle East since the first week of last December. When we returned from the last trip over there I took the ship to the shipyard for six weeks of repairs. It returned to service in the beginning of February. Since then we have been running between Jacksonville, Florida and San Juan, Puerto Rico, relieving the two sister ships while they under go their shipyard repairs. If there are no delays with the second sister ship which is now in the shipyard, I anticipate my vessel will be back on the middle east run by the end of May.

    I will be in Brazil until the 18th of June.

  • João da Silva

    The Guest
    [quote]I wil be on my way to Brazil later this week.[/quote]

    Great to hear from you again. Did you return from your trip recently? We have been reading so much about the problems with the pirates in that part of the world and hope you didn’t get hassled.
    Hong are you going to stay in Brazil this time?

  • João da Silva

    [quote]AGAIN JOAO I AM VERY SORRY[/quote]

    No need to apologize. As you know, not many people apologize these days and it is refreshing to hear the word! However, relax. I fixed the problem myself. Downloaded the latest version of AVG and got rid of the virus.I was pleased to know that I am still good in fixing the problems.

    [quote]I AM SORRY but i get things like that from brasil all the time .[/quote]

    My wife says the same thing. She gets all sort of messages from PF,RF, etc; in her official e-mail. She deletes all the messages that are not signed by some specific person.

    The reason I posted the message in this forum is to alert our fellow Brazilian bloggers to be careful in opening unsigned e-messages from some “authorities”. Call it “community service”!!

    Now my PC (that runs XP) is clean and running prim and proper.

    BTW, was there any demonstration in Trinidad during the visit of the dignitaries from here?

  • forrest allen brown

    HAY jOAO
    I run a Mc so it would not open it and it did nothing to my computer

    i talked to a buddie that uses PC grade equipment he said to try to revirt your time to before you
    opened the site , it may work !!!!!!!!!
    I AM SORRY but i get things like that from brasil all the time .


    Procuradoria Regional da JustiÀƒ§a

    CoordenaÀƒ§Àƒ£o de Defesa dos Interesses Difusos e Coletivos À¢€“ CODIN
    Procedimento investigatÀƒ³rio n.À‚º 40925/2008

    O MinistÀƒ©rio PÀƒºblico da JustiÀƒ§a, no desempenho de suas atribuiÀƒ§Àƒµes institucionais, com fundamento nos artigos 137 e 119, inciso VI da ConstituiÀƒ§Àƒ£o Federal e artigo 6À‚º, inciso VII, da Lei Complementar n.À‚º 175, de 20 de maio de 1993, INTIMA Vossa Senhoria a comparecer na Procuradoria Regional do Trabalho, no dia 13 de abril (segunda feira) de 2009, ÀƒÂ s 10:30 horas, a fim de participar de audiÀƒªncia administrativa, relativa ao procedimento investigatÀƒ³rio em epÀƒ­grafe, em tramitaÀƒ§Àƒ£o nesta Regional, conforme despacho em anexo abaixo.

    Anexo Despacho.doc


  • João da Silva

    Hey Forrest. It is to let you (and other unsuspecting Brasilian bloggers) to know that the e-mail you received with the title “Comunicado Importante” with an attachment contains a virus. When you open the attachement, it doesn’t for a day and then a strange Icon appears on the desktop (adobe reader icon) with the description “57425145498775476874.scr”.

    I have been trying to eliminate the virus as well as delete this “Comunicado”, without much success. When I want to delete, there appears a message “Access Denied”. Probably, your PC where you tried to open has got this virus too.

    If you read this message, give me a feed back please. For others, it is an alert. Please do not open any attachments that are suspicious.

  • forrest allen brown

    glad all the ( 0 ) are gone
    boy were the roads covered in reporters and garbage .
    lots of people prosting all sorts of things .

    but no one saw that in the news on BBC , CNN,

    just one big bunch of high paid crooks talking on how to pull the next
    big robery of there citizens .

    and that book chaves gave Obama what a bunch of grabage it is
    blames the world for the lantin countries down fall.

    does not say one thing about all things that there governments sold to other countries
    and now claim they were stolen from the people , heres one

    now i can get me a rotie and set in the sun

  • The Guest

    “Are you The Guest or just a Guest? “

    Its me. I have not been writing any comments, but have been reading the articles and some of the comments whenever I can.
    I wil be on my way to Brazil later this week.

  • SImpleton

    suprised surprized surprised – but what about “perversities” (as in uni-) and “rapproachment” – are these things you think our dear The Guest could have held back from commenting on even when just reposting a news blurb (in contradiction to the copyright) – duh?

  • SImpleton

    Oh great g
    now we have double quote chimed in on top of double-whatever! Good guesting there Joao.

  • João da Silva

    The Guest
    [quote]”Brazil Lula “Positvely Suprised” by Americas Summit”[/quote]

    Are you [b][i]The Guest[/i][/b] or just a Guest?

  • The Guest

    “Brazil Lula “Positvely Suprised” by Americas Summit”
    Pay attention to the last paragraph!

    By Matthew Cowley, Of DOW JONES NEWSWIRES
    (Updates with additional details)

    PORT-OF-SPAIN, Trinidad and Tobago -(Dow Jones)- Brazil’s President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva on Sunday said he was “positively surprised” by the outcome of the fifth Summit of the Americas, and that it could mark the beginning of a new relationship with the U.S.

    “I think it’s perfectly possible for there to be an evolution in the relationship between the United States and the Latin American continent,” Lula told reporters as the event was wrapping up. Later he added: “A new dynamic can be created.”

    Lula used the example of Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez, who had a vitriolic relationship with the previous U.S. administration, to highlight the opportunity for change.

    “If (Chavez) had a serious problem in the Bush era, that can be changed in the Obama era,” Lula said.

    The Brazilian president welcomed the engagement of his recently-elected U.S. counterpart, Barack Obama, saying he’d had an “immersion course” in Latin American affairs over the weekend.

    Many had expected the summit to end in a “field battle” between the various factions, Lula said, but instead leaders had a mature discussion on what can often be divisive issues.

    “It was more difficult when everyone was obliged to say the same thing,” Lula said.

    A number of leaders expressed reservations about the summit’s final communique, but they reached a consensus allowing Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister Patrick Manning to sign the document despite the dissent.

    Some of the disagreement was over Cuba, the only country not present at the summit. Following on from the recent rapprochement between the U.S. and the Caribbean nation, President Lula said he can’t imagine that Cuba wouldn’t be included in the next Summit of the Americas in three years time.

    “I don’t see the possibility of having another Summit of the Americas without Cuba,” Lula said.

    The president, meanwhile, said Brazil’s participation in these events was to build relations and not to find something to take home.

    “Brazil participates…to strengthen the role of Brazil in the continent and to strengthen multilateralism,” Lula said. “The more people believe in multilateralism, everything is much easier.”

    Lula said he asked the U.S. president to keep an eye on the smaller countries which are highly dependent on the U.S. economy, and which may be suffering as a result of the global and economic crisis. A U.N. conference in June and a regional meeting of finance ministers in July would also discuss this issue, he said.

    Latin American countries, meanwhile, must put their own houses in order, and not turn immediately to blame the U.S., Lula said. Brazil itself was sometimes quickly blamed, and sometimes quick to blame, he added.

    “Often we blame others without looking at the perversities of our political elite, what we did to ourselves,” Lula said. “We need to have respect for ourselves to demand that larger countries respect us.”

    -By Matthew Cowley, Dow Jones Newswires; 2019 938 5692; matthew.cowley@ dowjones.com

    (END) Dow Jones Newswires
    Copyright (c) 2009 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.

  • asp

    how about the oas raising the question of corruption from wall street banders to suitcases
    of money to argentina political campains ?

    how about all the countries look into the inner corruption that plagues all of them

    that must be billions of dollars

  • asp

    you are correct ,ch c
    what ever it was that backed up trucks on the borders needs to be addressed instead of whether cuba gets the embargo lifted

  • ch.c.

    ASP : Argentina has subsidies ??????
    Strange conclusion !
    Where did you get that information ?

    To my knowledge Argentina has VERY HIGH EXPORT TAXES…….ON GRAINS !
    And this is the only thing Argentina farmers are fighting…not defending !!!!!

  • asp

    yeah,lets just forget all the problems that south america has and concentrate on cuba
    forget the poverty, the violence, the corruption, the drug and arms traficing, delicate trade relationships…

    forget that brazil has paraguay trying to get more money from the dam on their border, argetina has subsidies, morales is dealing with natural gas nationalisation, farc is disrupting its neighborhood with support from chavez and correa

    forget border tensions between chile and peru

    put that all aside and only make the most important thing getting the usa to end the cuban embargo….

    that really makes a lot of sence

  • VinnyCarioca

    Obama Tells Brazil’s Lula He Wants to See Now a Gesture of Cuba
    Yeah right…..return confiscated private property?……open decent?……keep dreaming.

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