News / Americas

    Obama Aims to Recognize Democracies, Economic, Social Progress

    Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff speaks during the Citizen Rights Forum at Planalto palace in Brasilia, Brazil, March 15, 2011 (file photo)
    Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff speaks during the Citizen Rights Forum at Planalto palace in Brasilia, Brazil, March 15, 2011 (file photo)

    President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama are scheduled to arrive Saturday in Brazil on Saturday, on the president's first trip to South and Central America that will also take him to Chile and El Salvador. Obama will recognize the consolidation of democracies in the region, and reassure Latin America that the U.S. intends to step up its economic engagement.

    The president has described the trip as an effort to forge "new alliances" across the Americas, and White House officials say agreements can be expected at each stop in areas such as energy, economic growth and security.

    The Obamas first stop is Brazil, the world's 7th largest economy with a growing middle class, but which like other countries in the region continues to grapple with legacies of social injustice and poverty.  

    A a news conference last month with Brazil's foreign minister, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the two countries are cooperating closely on food security, human rights, clean energy, global inequality and other issues.

    "Brazil and the United States seek to promote open and accountable government, civil rights, a vibrant civil society, and social inclusion."

    Louis Goodman, Dean of the School of International Service at The American University in Washington, D.C.,  said Obama should be effective in the messages he delivers, particularly as the first African-American U.S. president and a symbol of America's acceptance of diversity.

    "People want to feel that the U.S. stands for diversity. They could not always be sure of that. Some of our foreign policy moves in the past suggested that we wanted things in a cookie-cutter image. And the fact that we have an African-American president who has a foreign policy style that lets other countries have their own processes is very, very well received."

    Obama meets with President Dilma Rousseff, Brazil's first woman head of state, and delivers a speech to the people of Brazil from Rio de Janeiro. Brazil will host the Olympic Games there in 2016, and the World Cup in 2014.

    Discussions with Rousseff, and meetings with Brazilian and American business executives, will focus on investment opportunities in areas such as as renewable energy, science and technology, education and innovation. These are all priorities for Obama's job-creation agenda back home.  

    White House officials say Obama also likely will raise Brazil's discovery several years ago of major offshore oil and natural gas deposits, something he mentioned in a recent news conference about rising energy prices.

    "When it comes to imported oil, we are strengthening our key energy relationships with other producer nations, something that I will discuss with President Rousseff when I visit Brazil."

    Other likely topics are political upheaval in the Middle East, and Brazil's desire to become a permanent member of an expanded U.N. Security Council.

    At a recent panel discussion in Washington,  Brazil's ambassador Mauro Vieira, said Brazil and the U.S. have their differences but this is  Obama's opportunity to reach out to Brazil and the entire region.

    "The important thing about this trip, the trip and the visit itself, is the desire of the American government itself to reach out to the region and to discuss very broad and very wide agenda with every country," said Vieira.

    In Chile, Obama meets with President Sebastian Pinera, the first conservative head of state since the end of the Pinochet era, and will deliver what the White House calls a major policy speech about the U.S. relationship with Latin America.

    Roberto Matus, deputy chief of mission at Chile's embassy in Washington, said it will be an opportunity to lay out a clear American vision for an equal partnership.

    "We should recognize the differences of the countries, respect the specificities of development and models of development of each country, and from there try to build a forward-looking vision, a partnership on how Latin America is a global player and how Latin America should be present in this area," said Matus.

    In El Salvador, Obama will discuss counter-narcotics efforts, trade, and immigration with President Mauricio Funes, a former member of the leftist Farabundo Marti guerrilla movement, who now heads a center-left government.

    El Salvador's ambassador to the U.S., Francisco Altschul, said the battle against organized crime and drug traffickers requires a unified regional response. "They don't respect borders, they don't respect laws, they don't respect anything. And that is why it is a regional problem and therefore the solution has to be regional"

    Back home, Obama faces criticism that he has been slow to help the U.S. seize opportunities in Latin America, and compete with China and others for influence.

    U.S. lawmakers have questioned why free trade pacts signed, but then re-negotiated with Colombia and Panama - both left off Obama's itinerary - have not yet been sent to Congress.

    The president has said he is committed to moving both pacts to congressional approval as soon as possible. Among impatient lawmakers is Republican Representative Connie Mack who heads the House of Representatives Committee on Western Hemisphere Affairs.

    "The administration’s lack of action is killing U.S. jobs. The failure to move forward on our promises is hurting important allies in the region."

    Eric Farnsworth, Vice President of the Council of the Americas, said Obama must persuade Latin America that the U.S. is its best partner, though others are knocking at its door.

    "We can put names on those opportunities - China, Canada - certainly rising Brazil, and intra-regional trade and relationships, and I think we can no longer assume that we are the only game in town, if we ever were," said Farnsworth.

    There also is continuing criticism, especially from Cuban-American lawmakers, of administration policy on Cuba. There is concern about Honduras, and the domestic and regional policies of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, including his embrace of Iran's government.

    Where Chavez is concerned, Goodman said that positive messages Obama delivers on his trip should speak for themselves. "By visiting two countries that are economic success, Brazil and Chile, and two countries that don't behave in an erratic way on the international scene, Brazil and Chile, he will be sending a message that this is what the United States wants to relate to."

    The president is scheduled to arrive back in Washington next Wednesday.

    You May Like

    Top US General: Turkish Media Report ‘Absurd'

    General Dunford rejects ‘irresponsible' claims of coup involvement by former four-star Army General Campbell, who led NATO forces in Afghanistan before retiring earlier this year

    Video Saving Ethiopian Children Thought to Be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at efforts of one African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children

    Protests Over Western Troops Threaten Libyan 'Unity' Government

    Fears mount that Islamist foes of ‘unity' government plan to declare a revolutionaries' council in Tripoli

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunitiesi
    X
    VOA News
    July 25, 2016 5:09 PM
    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Four Brother Goats Arrive in Brooklyn on a Mission

    While it's unusual to see farm animals in cities, it's become familiar for residents of Brooklyn, New York, to see a little herd of goats. Unlike gas-powered mowing equipment, goats remove invasive weeds quietly and without adding more pollution to the air. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this is a pilot program and if it proves to be successful, the goat gardener program will be extended to other areas of New York. Faith Lapidus narrates.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora

    More Americas News

    US to Address Illegal Immigration From Central America

    Costa Rica will aid in screening, and Obama administration will expand Central American Minors program to provide safer, more orderly entries of qualified youths

    85 Russian Athletes Barred from Rio Olympics Over Doping

    Among them - 2012 Olympic champion Alexander Dyachenko, one of five canoeists named in recent WADA report, alleging state-sponsored doping cover-up

    Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    Locals say there are many entangled issues at the border that require clearheaded examination, not heated rhetoric

    Colombia Declares End to Zika Epidemic Inside Country

    Colombia has reported nearly 100,000 cases of infection, with 21 cases of Zika-related microcephaly

    Life on the Line in Venezuela as Economic Crisis Worsens

    As country's lines have grown longer and more dangerous, they have become not only the stage for everyday life, but a backdrop to death

    Colombian Drug Lord Gets 35 Years in US Prison

    Daniel Barrera, convicted of trafficking hundreds of tons of cocaine, also fined $10 million