President Barack Obama offered a spirit of cooperation to America’s hemispheric neighbors, listening to complaints about past U.S. meddling and pointedly reaching out to Venezuela’s leader, Hugo Chavez, Cuban leader Raul Castro, and Nicaragua’s Daniel Ortega.
“I have a lot to learn and I very much look forward to listening and figuring out how we can work together more effectively,” Obama said.
To Latin American nations reeling from a sudden plunge in exports, Obama promised a new hemispheric growth fund, an initiative to increase Caribbean security, and a partnership to develop alternative energy sources and fight global warming.
Obama extended a hand to Nicaragua’s Daniel Ortega, whom President Ronald Reagan spent years trying to drive from power. At a luncheon speech to fellow leaders, Chavez said the spirit of respect is encouraging and he proposed that Havana host the next summit.
Obama said he was ready to accept Cuban President Raul Castro’s proposal of talks on issues once off-limits for Cuba, including political prisoners held by the communist government.
The summit ended very positively, with high hopes by all countries that they will be able to work together more effectively in the future toward shared goals.