Praise and congratulations emanated from Latin America, in response to the historic victory of President-elect Barack Obama on Tuesday. Many Latin American presidents called for a new era of relations between their country and the United States, however, others expressed doubt as to whether relations will actually change.
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Editorial boards across the region also provided their interpretation of Obama’s win, pointing to both the historic nature of the elections, with Barack Obama being the first African-American in the White House, and the significant challenges that lie ahead, despite the strong popular support for change.
Below you will find quotes from various Latin American presidents’ official communications to the United States’ new President-elect, as well as links to and excerpts from editorials from many of Latin America’s top newspapers.
Latin American presidents’ remarks:
Colombia: President Álvaro Uribe
“We have to continue working and looking for support in order to maintain a policy of coordination with the government of the United States against narcotrafficking, terrorism, and the strengthening democratic institutions.”
Ecuador: President Rafael Correa
“I think that foreign policy is going to be more reasonable, more humane, less imperialist. I think that (there will be) more attention on Latin America, but I do not believe that there will be changes.”
“I dream about the day that Latin America, really does not have to worry about who becomes the president of the United States, because it will be sovereign and autonomous enough to walk on its own two feet.”
Correa also stressed the fact that for the first time “a black man will be the president of the United States. It is important that a minority leads the most powerful country in the world.”
Bolivia: President Evo Morales
“Mr. Barack Obama has made history, his victory is historic and, in the name of the National Government, congratulations.”
“Weeks ago, I said that, regardless of which candidate became president, we would work to improve relations with the United States, but even better with Obama, who is a person who represents the most marginalized sectors.”
Chile: President Michelle Bachelet
“I know that we will continue working together to strengthen even further the relations between our countries and take advantage of not only economic opportunities, but also of the training, technology exchange and cultural development that we have.”
“This triumph brings us to an historic moment. Because today, when the world is confronted with a serious range of difficulties affecting peoples’ lives, such as the energy crisis, the economic crisis, and the food crisis, the international community obviously requires new solutions and a special preoccupation for the less protected populations. I am certain that Barack Obama is an expression of the dreams of an entire nation for a better future, full of hope.”
Peru: President Alan Garcia
“We have followed this presidential campaign with interest and admiration, as it has shown the vigor of democracy in the United States and the majority of the U.S population has supported your message of change and hope. We are sure that your leadership and political convictions will be decisive so that the international community will find a responsible and equitable way out of the crisis that is affecting world finances and economy.
We are equally assured that during your term our bilateral relation will continue to strengthen. The vigorous entrance into the Free Trade Agreement, which you supported and used as an example during your campaign, will serve to energize business and investment, and will stimulate exchange and cooperation in the other fields Peru needs for its development and those fields over which the United States has global leadership.”
Venezuela: President Hugo Chávez
“The historic election of an African-American to the head of the most powerful nation in the world is a symptom of the changing times that have been brewing from the south of America, which is now knocking on the door of the United States. From Simon Bolivar’s homeland, we are convinced that the time has come to establish new relations between our countries and with our region, within the basis of principles of respect for sovereignty, equality, and true cooperation.
From all of the corners of the planet, a clamor is arising that demands a change in international relations and the construction, as the liberator Simon Bolivar said, of an equal, peaceful, and coexisting world.
The Government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela confirms its will and its determination to build, over a base of absolute respect of sovereignty, a constructive bilateral agenda for the well-being of the Venezuelan and U.S. citizenry.”
Mexico: President Felipe Calderón
Text from an official press release:
“The President of Mexico, Felipe Calderón Hinojosa, sent a letter today, in the name of the pueblo and the Government of Mexico, to Senator Barack Obama, congratulating him for his victory in the United States’ presidential elections.
In the letter, President Calderón reiterated the Government of Mexico’s commitment to strengthening and deepening bilateral relations and working toward the construction of a better future for the region. He confided that the relation between both countries will begin a new phase of progress based on shared responsibility, a frank and respectful dialogue, and mutual trust.”
Honduras: President Manuel Zelaya
“Barack Obama’s victory is one for the entire world, and is for everyone, who in any moment of their lives, have fought for momentous changes through social organization, for civil rights, human rights, to combat inequality. It deserves sincere congratulations to the American population, to the president-elect, and to those who chivalrously accepted defeat.”
La Razón: Estados Unidos, hacia “el cambio” (The United States made “the change”)
“There are ‘changing times in Washington,’ [Bush] recognized; but immediately, he signaled that ‘the world is going to continue being the same’ with Obama. The change, it appears, is passing to the other side in the United States. And Bolivia, as the rest of the countries in the region, will have to understand it like that.”
Los Tiempos: El triunfo de Barack Obama (Barack Obama’s triumph)
“However, what awaits Obama is not anything easy. Many prejudices about his ability to lead were refuted by facts, yet there still remain other relative tests to his true aptitude and decisions to confront with conviction the necessary and monumental challenges such as terrorism and the economic debacle. If it is like this or not, the judgement of history will tell. Until then, what is certain is that the United States population and its democracy gave an admirable show of strength. And that already is, by itself, an extraordinary motive for the United States to revitalize its faith in the future.”
El Tiempo: Revolución Obama (Obama revolution)
“In the case of Latin America, and in Colombia in particular, it is too early to speculate about the immediate changes that will be in the bilateral agenda. Regardless, the democratic majority now in power favors adding conditions to military aid packages, trade exchanges, and the fight against drugs in exchange for improvements in human rights. For our country, the arrival of the new Obama administration could become a unique opportunity to spell out new points in the bilateral agenda.”
El Comercio: Ganar era previsible, gobernar será titánico (Winning was foreseeable, governing will be titanic)
“The agenda of the United States’ new President is one of the most difficult tests in the history of the country. It will require an enormous and historic serenity; from an extraordinary team of advisors and, if it is believed, blessings from the divine.”
El Comercio: Estados Unidos: histórica elección y grandes retos (United States: historic election and great challenges)
“In regard to Latin America, one hopes for improved relations, that will not be limited to a revised migration policy, but instead in more concrete links and on a longer time scale. In regard to Peru, it has only been mentioned as an example FTA that could be better considered by our government.”
La República: Obama y A. Latina (Obama and Latin America)
“Although there were few references to Latin America during the presidential campaign, . . . there were two concrete points that can be cited in favor of the president-elect. The first was his t.v. spot in relatively correct Spanish, addressed to the hispanic electorate, that, according to the results, he ended up conquering.
The second, that was brought about during his debates with McCain, was in reference to Peru. The senator from Illinois presented himself as favorable to the FTA signed between the USA and our country, to which he practically qualified as exemplar and said that it could count on his support.”
El Nacional: Obama y nosotros (Obama and us)
“When Venezuelans think about these campaigns in other countries and we compare them to their elections to elect governors and mayors, it makes them want to cry. Destruction is the war cry of the President against his adversaries. In the United States, the competition has other characteristics. It was between parties and between candidates; here it is between the all-powerful and corrupt government and simple citizens.”
La Jornada: Histórico (Historic)
“It is not sensible, ultimately, to hold expectations of a radical change in the power of the United States as a result of the arrival of Barack Obama to the White House. But, it would be unfair to deny the marked and positive political and human differences between the victor at the polls yesterday and the man who in eight years has carried the power of the United States to its worse moral and economic abyss.”
Clarín: Una elección por el cambio, en Estados Unidos (An election for change, in the United States)
“The triumph of Barack Obama was the consequence of a profound political mobilization. The Americans voted for a change in national and international policies and the election has an enormous significance for the northern country and for the rest of the world, in that which respects the national administration, international relations and the culture of social relations, because it will contribute to a more inclusive and tolerant society.”
El Mercurio: Triunfo de Obama (Obama’s triumph)
“Obama represents a distinct way of taking on international themes, in tune with the ruthless criticism that the Democratic Party made to Bush in his eight years.”
Prensa Libre: Respecto de una victoria anunciada (Respect of an announced victory)
“This election became a symbol of hope to achieve changes and to establish the now lost unity of the purposes of this country.”
Nación: Presidente de la esperanza (President of hope)
“The exemplar triumph of Barack Obama reflects the best of the United States. Governing will be the biggest challenge, but he has solid conditions to assume it.”