Today in Latin America
Top Story — President Barack Obama arrived in Brazil Saturday to kick off a five-day, three-country visit to Latin America.
Obama hopes to increase economic ties between Brazil and the United States, as part of his effort to create more jobs. China displaced the United States as Brazil’s number one trading partner in 2009.
Business and political leaders, including Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, met with Obama in Brasilia on Saturday. On Sunday, Obama visited City of God, the Rio de Janeiro slum made famous by the 2002 film.
In the afternoon, Obama celebrated the similarities between Brazilian and U.S. democracies in a speech directed toward the Brazilian public and delivered at Rio’s Theatro Municipal. Obama offered Brazil as a model that countries in the Middle East should emulate. “Those who argue that democracy stands in the way of economic progress, they must contend with the example of Brazil,” Obama said.
The organizers originally planned for Obama to deliver the speech outside in the city’s Cinelândia neighborhood to an audience of 10,000, but the Secret Service recommended moving it indoors, citing security concerns.
The White House planned for the trip to Brazil to focus on trade, but U.S. military action against Libya also loomed large. Obama gave the order for the U.S. military to attack the North African country from Brazil.
Obama will meet with Chilean President Sebastián Piñera in Santiago today. In anticipation of Obama’s visit, several hundred people protested a U.S.-Chilean nuclear energy agreement and demanded that the U.S. president apologize for his country’s involvement in the 1973 coup that ousted left-wing President Salvador Allende and installed the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet.
Headlines from the Western Hemisphere
- The U.S. Ambassador to Mexico resigned Saturday after remarks he made in leaked cables about Mexico’s drug war angered President Felipe Calderón.
- Gunmen in the Mexican resort town of Acapulco stormed into a nightclub and killed 10 people early Saturday.
- The newly elected governor of New Mexico lost her attempt to deny driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants after the state Senate killed the bill.
- Haiti’s presidential runoff took place Sunday, four months after a disastrous first round that saw widespread violence and contested results.
- The United States is seeking to avoid moves that could jeopardize a U.S. contractor’s chances of being released from Cuba after receiving a 15-year prison sentence.
- Cuban government supporters harassed a group of dissidents who met at a home in Havana to commemorate the eighth anniversary of a sweeping crackdown on dissent.
- El Salvador’s Maya Indians on Sunday invoked the forces of nature in an ancient ritual to help U.S. President Barack Obama — set to visit the Central American nation in days — to make wise decisions.
- Honduran President Porfirio Lobo ordered striking school teachers back to work Friday following clashes with police that left one teacher dead and two others injured.
- Twenty-two Cuban immigrants landed on a Caribbean beach in Honduras 10 days after leaving Cuba aboard a launch.
- Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez said Sunday that the U.S. and its allies have plans to sabotage his bid for reelection in 2012.
- Peruvian President Alan Garcia announced Saturday that his Cabinet chief resigned just three weeks before nationwide elections and four months before the end of his boss’s term.
- Bolivian authorities say a commercial plane carrying 33 passengers touched down on its belly after its landing gear failed to open properly near an airport in the Amazon basin.
- U.S. President Barack Obama visited the Cidade de Deus favela in Rio de Janeiro with his family during a state visit to Brazil on Sunday.
- An Argentine man died during rioting in the early minutes of a soccer game between San Lorenzo and Velez in Buenos Aires on Sunday.
- Protesters in Santiago are awaiting the arrival of U.S. President Barack Obama in Chile on Monday to ask that he apologize for the CIA-supported coup of Chilean President Salvador Allende’s Popular Unity government on September 11, 1973.
Image: Pete Souza @ whitehouse.gov.