Obama Praises Latin American Growth and Dynamism During Speech In Chile

President Obama visited Chile on Saturday. (White House photo)
President Obama visited Chile on Saturday. (White House photo)
President Obama visited Chile on Saturday. (White House photo)

Today in Latin America

Top Story — U.S. President Barack Obama said that Latin America was fundamental to the prosperity and security of the United States, during a speech in Chile Monday.

Speaking from Chile’s La Moneda presidential palace in the capital of Santiago, Obama praised the region for its economic dynamism and for its transition to democracy. Latin America’s political experience can be a guide for other peoples seeking democracy, Obama added.

“Latin America is not the old stereotype of a region in perpetual conflict or trapped in endless cycles of poverty,” Obama said, according to Bloomberg. “The world must now recognize Latin America for the dynamic and growing region that it truly is.”

The U.S. exports more than three times as much to Latin America as it does to China, with sales to the region growing faster than they are to the rest of the world, Obama said during his speech.

“Latin America is only going to become more important to the United States, especially to our economy,” Obama said, according to Bloomberg. “In short, when Latin America is more prosperous, the United States is more prosperous.”

Drug cartels and corruption in the region were highlighted by Obama as posing a direct threat to democracy and economic development in the region. He added that the U.S. shares the responsibility for the problem and would boost security cooperation while implementing a strategy to cut down on drug demand.

Cuba drew criticism from the U.S. president, who said that authorities there must respect the basic rights of the Cuban people and that the decades-old U.S. embargo on Cuba will stay in place until Havana takes steps toward democratic reforms.

Obama’s Latin American visit, which makes it final stop in El Salvador today before he returns to the U.S. Wednesday, has been overshadowed by the coalition airstrikes against Colonel Muammar Gaddafi’s government in Libya.

“As part of the multilateral response authorized under U.N. Security Council Resolution 1973, U.S. military forces, under the command of Commander, U.S. Africa Command, began a series of strikes against air defense systems and military airfields for the purposes of preparing a no-fly zone,” Obama said in a statement, according to to The Los Angeles Times.

“Left unaddressed, the growing instability in Libya could ignite wider instability in the Middle East, with dangerous consequences to the national security interests of the United States,” he added.

Headlines from the Western Hemisphere

North America

Caribbean

  • Despite delayed start times, missing ballot boxes and attempted ballot stuffing, Haiti’s presidential and legislative runoff elections Sunday marked an improvement over the highly chaotic and controversial Nov. 28 first round, international observers said Monday.
  • Six people were killed and another six were injured when their bus crashed into a power-line post and burst into flames, Dominican authorities said.

Central America

Andes

  • Venezuela is shoring up economic ties with Chinese companies with the signing of new trade and investment agreements, in a bid by President Hugo Chávez to reduce dependence on Washington.
  • Venezuela turned over a Colombian drug suspect to U.S. authorities Monday and sent five other suspects to the Netherlands and Colombia, where they face charges ranging from drug trafficking to murder.
  • Peru’s currency weakened and the costs of insuring the country’s bonds rose on Monday as left-wing nationalist presidential candidate Ollanta Humala surged in the polls for the April 10 vote.
  • Fifteen people were killed and 16 others injured in a bus accident in Meta, a province in central Colombia, police said Sunday.

Southern Cone

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