Political Headlines April 16, 2012: Senate Republicans Reject President Barack Obama’s Buffett Rule 30 Percent Income Tax Rate for Millionaires





Senate rejects Obama plan for 30% tax rate for millionaires: The U.S. Senate, by a vote of 51-45, has blocked consideration of the Buffett Rule, a key initiative by President Obama to require millionaires to pay a minimum tax rate of 30 percent. Republicans kept the measure from receiving the 60 votes necessary to allow the Senate to open debate…. – WaPo, 4-16-12

  • Republicans reject ‘Buffett rule’ in the Senate: Republican-led opposition blocked the ‘Buffett rule’ from advancing in the Senate, turning back an election year effort by President Obama to slap a new tax rate on those earning beyond $1 million a year…. – LAT, 4-16-12
  • Senate fails to advance Buffett rule: The Democratic-controlled Senate failed on Monday to reach a super-majority needed to pass a tax plan offered by President Obama to require millionaires to pay a 30% minimum effective tax rate…. – USA Today, 4-16-12
  • Senate Blocks Buffett Rule 30% Tax Floor on Top Earners: The US Senate blocked the proposed Buffett rule that would set a minimum 30 percent federal tax rate for the highest earners. The 51-45 vote today in Washington fell short of the 60 needed to advance the measure…. – BusinessWeek, 4-16-12
  • Senate GOP blocks Obama’s ‘Buffett rule’ minimum tax on millionaires: Senate Republicans blocked President Obama’s so-called “Buffett Rule,” as the proposed minimum tax rate for millionaires failed to advance in a procedural vote Monday. The measure received majority support, 51-45, but 60 votes were required for the … – Fox News, 4-16-12

History Buzz April 16, 2012: Historians Manning Marable & John Lewis Gaddis Win Pulitzer Prizes for History & Biography


History Buzz


The Times and New Media Outlets Win Pulitzers

Source: NYT, 4-16-12

2012 Journalism Pulitzer Winners (April 17, 2012)
2012 Pulitzer Prizes for Letters, Drama and Music (April 17, 2012)

The prizes, celebrating achievement in newspaper and online journalism, literature, nonfiction and musical composition, were announced at Columbia University in New York. Given annually since 1917, they are awarded in 21 categories. Here are this year’s winners.


PUBLIC SERVICE: The Philadelphia Inquirer

BREAKING NEWS REPORTING: The Tuscaloosa (Ala.) News Staff

INVESTIGATIVE REPORTING: Matt Apuzzo, Adam Goldman, Eileen Sullivan and Chris Hawley of The Associated Press and Michael J. Berens and Ken Armstrong of The Seattle Times

EXPLANATORY REPORTING: David Kocieniewski of The New York Times

LOCAL REPORTING: Sara Ganim and members of The Patriot-News Staff, Harrisburg, Pa.

NATIONAL REPORTING: David Wood of The Huffington Post

INTERNATIONAL REPORTING: Jeffrey Gettleman of The New York Times

FEATURE WRITING: Eli Sanders of The Stranger, a Seattle weekly

COMMENTARY: Mary Schmich of The Chicago Tribune

CRITICISM: Wesley Morris of The Boston Globe


EDITORIAL CARTOONING: Matt Wuerker of Politico

BREAKING NEWS PHOTOGRAPHY: Massoud Hossaini of Agence France-Presse

FEATURE PHOTOGRAPHY: Craig F. Walker of The Denver Post


FICTION: No award

DRAMA: “Water by the Spoonful” by Quiara Alegría Hudes

HISTORY: “Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention” by Manning Marable, awarded posthumously (Viking)

BIOGRAPHY: “George F. Kennan: An American Life” by John Lewis Gaddis (The Penguin Press)

POETRY: “Life on Mars” by Tracy K. Smith (Graywolf Press)

GENERAL NONFICTION: “The Swerve: How the World Became Modern” by Stephen Greenblatt (W. W. Norton and Company)

MUSIC: “Silent Night: Opera in Two Acts” by Kevin Puts, commissioned and premiered by the Minnesota Opera in Minneapolis on Nov. 12, 2011.

In this undated image released by The Penguin Press, "George F. Kennan: An American Life," by John Lewis Gaddis is shown. On Monday, April 16, 2012, Gaddis won the Pulitzer Prize for biography for "George F. Kennan: An American Life." Photo: The Penguin Press / AP
In this undated image released by The Penguin Press, “George F. Kennan: An American Life,” by John Lewis Gaddis is shown. On Monday, April 16, 2012, Gaddis won the Pulitzer Prize for biography for “George F. Kennan: An American Life.” Photo: The Penguin Press / AP

Pulitzer Prize for history, but not for fiction

The late Manning Marable won the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for history, honored for a Malcolm X book. But no Pulitzer Prize was awarded for fiction.

Source: CS Monitor, 4-16-12

The late Manning Marable won the Pulitzer Prize for history Monday, honored for a Malcolm X book he worked on for decades, but did not live to see published. For the first time in 35 years, no fiction prize was given.

Marable, a longtime professor at Columbia University, died last year just as “Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention” was being released. Years in the making, the book was widely praised, although some of Malcolm X’s children objected to the troubled portrait Marable offered of the activist’s marriage to Betty Shabazz.

Another long-term project, John Lewis Gaddis’ “George F. Kennan: An American Life,” won the Pulitzer for biography. Gaddis is a Yale University professor and leading Cold War scholar who began work on the Kennan book in the early 1980s. The project was delayed by Kennan’s longevity. Kennan, a founding Cold War strategist and a Pulitzer winner, was in his 70s at the time he authorized the book. He asked only that Gaddis wait until after his death.

Kennan lived to 101.

“He was a prize-winning author himself, so he would have been pleased,” said Gaddis, whose biography also won the National Book Critics Circle award….READ MORE

Gaddis wins Pulitzer for Kennan biography

Source: Yale Daily News, 4-16-12

History Prof. John Lewis Gaddis received the National Humanities Medal in 2005.

History Prof. John Lewis Gaddis received the National Humanities Medal in 2005. Photo by Wikimedia Commons.

History professor John Lewis Gaddis can add yet another accolade to his biography of American diplomat George Kennan: the Pulitzer Prize, America’s most prestigious award for letters.

Gaddis won the 2012 biography Pulitzer for “George F. Kennan: An American Life,” which was published in November after nearly two decades of research. In naming Gaddis the winner, the Pulitzer jurors called his work “an engaging portrait of a globetrotting diplomat whose complicated life was interwoven with the Cold War and America’s emergence as the world’s dominant power.”

Mary Gabriel’s “Love and Capital: Karl and Jenny Marx and the Birth of a Revolution” and Manning Marble’s “Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention” were named as finalists for the Pulitzer Prize for Biography.

In March, Gaddis’ biography took home the American History Book Prize, earning him $50,000 and the title of American Historian Laureate. The Kennan biography also won the National Book Critics Circle Award….READ MORE

Political Headlines April 16, 2012: President Barack Obama’s Nominee & Darmouth President Jim Yong Kim Named World Bank President





Dartmouth President & President Obama nominee Jim Yong Kim named World Bank president: The World Bank named Jim Yong Kim, Dartmouth College’s president, as its new chief on Monday after an unprecedented competition against nominees from Nigeria and Colombia.
In a statement Monday afternoon, the bank board said it had chosen Kim as the institution’s 12th president to succeed Robert Zoellick when his five-year term ends in June. WaPo, 4-16-12

  • American Jim Yong Kim is chosen to lead World Bank: Jim Yong Kim, an American who is president of Dartmouth College, has been chosen to be the next president of the World Bank. His selection Monday extends the U.S. hold on the top job at the 187-nation development agency.
    Kim, a surprise nominee of President Barack Obama, was selected Monday in a vote by the World Bank’s 25-member executive board. He’ll succeed Robert Zoellick, who’s stepping down after a five year term.
    Developing nations waged an unsuccessful challenge to Kim, 52, a physician and pioneer in treating HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis in the developing world.
    Kim issued a statement accepting the job from Lima, Peru, his last stop on a global tour that took him to Africa, Asia and Latin American, seeking support from developing countries. He praised his two opponents from developing countries and said his goal as president would be to “seek a new alignment of the World Bank with a rapidly changing world.”… – AP, 4-16-12

Statement by the President on the selection of Dr. Jim Yong Kim as World Bank President

On behalf of the United States, I would like to offer my congratulations to Dr. Jim Yong Kim on his selection as the next President of the World Bank.  I am confident that Dr. Kim will be an inclusive leader who will bring to the Bank a passion for and deep knowledge of development, a commitment to sustained economic growth, and the ability to respond to complex challenges and seize new opportunities. I appreciate the strong support offered to Dr. Kim from leaders around the world.

I am also pleased that this has been an open and transparent process, and would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the outstanding qualifications and commitment of the other two candidates.  I look forward to working with Dr. Kim and our partners throughout the world in support of a strong and effective World Bank.

Full Text Obama Presidency April 14-15, 2012: President Barack Obama’s Speeches at the Summit of Americas Recap — US-Colombia Trade Pact Is Set



President Obama at the Summit of the Americas

Source: WH, 4-14-12

President Barack Obama participates in the CEO Summit of the Americas panel discussion (April 14, 2012)

President Barack Obama participates in the CEO Summit of the Americas panel discussion at the Hilton Hotel, Cartagena, Colombia, April 14, 2012. President of Brazil Dilma Rousseff and President of Colombia Juan Manuel Santos took part. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama is in Cartagena, Columbia this weekend for the Summit of the Americas — a gathering of more than 30 leaders from North, South, and Central America.

In a panel discussion with Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff and Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, President Obama discussed what he called enormous progress in the region:

Trade between the United States and Latin, Central — South America, Central America and the Caribbean has expanded 46 percent since I came into office — 46 percent.

Before I came to Cartagena, I stopped in Tampa, Florida, which is the largest port in Florida. And they are booming and expanding. And the reason is, is because of the enormous expansion of trade and commerce with this region. It’s creating jobs in Florida, and it’s creating jobs in Colombia, and it’s creating jobs in Brazil and throughout the region. Businesses are seeing that if they have an outstanding product or an outstanding service, they don’t have to restrict themselves to one market, they now have a regional market and ultimately a global market in which they can sell their goods and succeed.

Read the full remarks here.


Remarks by President Obama and President Santos of Colombia in Joint Press Conference

Casa de Huespedes
Cartagena, Colombia

4:30 P.M. COT

PRESIDENT SANTOS: (As interpreted.) Good afternoon to you all. I’d like to announce that we have had a bilateral meeting with President Obama and his team. This has been highly productive. Colombia and the U.S. have been successful partners in fighting against drug trafficking, fighting against terrorism, and in defending democracy.

In this meeting we have made even more progress. Our countries have moved from being just good friends and partners to become real allies. We are allies in building a new world order — the world of the 20th century is behind; it is in the past. Now there is a new international reality and we cannot simply be passive observers of this reality. Only joint work of those who share the ideals of freedom and democracy makes sure of a peaceful transition towards a better world. And we feel that we must work together.

We have talked with President Obama about bilateral problems and world problems, and we have also worked at the Security Council coordinating our positions. And we have been doing this and we will do it at the G20 where we will meet in a few months. And here at the summit, in this Summit of the Americas, we have had very positive results. And I’m not only saying this as president of the summit, but most of the heads of state and government who were present said the same thing. And one of the reasons why it has been so successful was thanks to President Obama, who stayed here for two nights, and we discussed openly and candidly, with respect and cordiality, all problems. Everything was discussed. And that was really appreciated by Latin America and the Caribbean in a very special fashion.

So I’d like to thank you, President Obama. This was part of the success of the summit.

We all have the feeling that there are enormous opportunities to work together in a more integrated fashion. North and South America will be able to find common denominators that will create synergies for the benefit of the North American and Latin American peoples.

In bilateral relations, I think that we have also made headways as never before, and I’d like to thank you, President Obama, for your permanent willingness not only working with Colombia but with Latin America. You said something that touched us, and that was that you did not see Latin America as a problem, or Latin Americans living in the United States as a problem, but the country as a contribution, as a supplement to the dynamics that make the U.S. what they are today. And that has a lot of value. We would like to thank you for this. We would like to thank you, not only as Latin Americans who live south of Rio Grande, but those who live — the millions of Latin Americans who live in the U.S.

As for bilateral relations, finally, after working together for a long time, the two countries and their delegations, we can announce today that on May 15th, precisely in one month, the new FTA with the U.S. will be enforced — (applause) — which means there will be thousands — millions of jobs created for the U.S. and Colombia. It is a dream we had for a long time. Since I was a minister of commerce 20 years ago, we were dreaming of having free trade with the U.S., and this has become a reality today, here in Cartagena, and right here where not so many years ago, about 10 to 12 years, that Plan Colombia was launched.

We were about to be considered a failed state. And today, thanks to Plan Colombia and thanks to the U.S. and many others, and thanks to you, President Obama, for your permanent support that you have always given us, today we have a very strong democracy that is producing specific results for our people and has been recognized by the world as a whole.

Number two, we also agreed with President Obama to work together so as to help Central American countries in fighting against organized crime and drug trafficking. The experience that we have gathered through Plan Colombia together with the United States is something that we have the obligation of sharing with our brothers in Central America who are going through difficult times. So that is the reason why we have decided to strengthen and improve joint assistance mechanisms for these countries.

Number three, we have agreed to work together so as to ensure energy interconnection with the whole continent. And this is something we discussed during the summit, but it concerns us very specifically here. Both the U.S. and Colombia may contribute to that interconnection. I am dreaming that at some point in time no individual living in the Americas will be out of this interconnection because that will help us a lot in fighting against the poverty and for development.

Number four, we would like to thank the American government for a decision which is that as of now visas given to Colombians will be extended to 10 years — (applause) — which is a proof of trust in the countries. And we would like to thank you very much for this not only on behalf of the government, but on behalf of the 46 million Colombians and the millions of Colombians who love to go to the U.S.

And that is why I think that we are strengthening the wonderful relations that we have always had with the United States and with you, personally, President Obama. You have not only an ally but a friend. You can count on us. And let’s continue working together. We’ve been able to attain many goals up to date, and I’m sure that we will be able to be more successful in the future.

So again, on behalf of the 46 million people in Colombia and all Latin Americans, thank you very much. Thank you very much for your interest. Thank you very much for coming to the summit and to this bilateral meeting. I think this has been a very important step forward in trying to work together in the Americas and the U.S. and Colombia. Thank you very much. (Applause.)

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, thank you, President Santos, for those warm words. Most of all, thank you and thanks to the First Lady and the people of Colombia and Cartagena for your unbelievable hospitality. This is a beautiful city. And I’m going to do my best to bring Michelle and the girls back to come visit.

This will be remembered as a summit that brought the nations of our hemisphere closer together, and it will be remembered that we advanced the prosperity and the security and dignity of our peoples. And I believe it will be remembered that our progress was made possible in no small part by the outstanding commitment and leadership of President Santos and his team. So, Juan Manuel, muchas gracias.

As I said to my fellow leaders yesterday, there was a time not so long ago when few could have imagined holding a summit like this in Colombia. That we have and that the summit was such a success is a tribute to the remarkable transformation that’s occurred in this nation. There’s a level of security that’s not been seen in decades. Citizens are reclaiming their communities. The economy is growing — as you can see in the skylines of Cartagena and Bogota. Democratic institutions are being strengthened. In Colombia today, there’s hope.

And this progress, once unthinkable, is a tribute to Colombian leaders, including President Santos. It’s a testament to the extraordinary courage and sacrifices of Colombian security forces and the Colombian people. And now, as conflict begins to recede, this nation is embracing a new task — consolidating the gains it has won, and building a just and durable peace that unlocks Colombia’s incredible potential.

Today, I pledged to President Santos that as Colombia forges its future Colombia will continue to have a strong partner in the United States.

When we met for the first time two years ago, we agreed to take the partnership between our two countries to a new level. This is part of my broader commitment in the Americas to seek partnerships of equality that are based on mutual interest and mutual respect. Here in Colombia and across the region, that’s exactly what we’ve done. And today, President Santos and I reviewed our progress and, I’m pleased to say, reached agreement on several new initiatives.

First, as has already been mentioned, we’re moving ahead with our landmark trade agreement. In our meeting at the White House last year, we approved an action plan to ensure the protection of labor rights. We all know that more work still needs to be done, but we’ve made significant progress. And as a result, and given the actions taken by President Santos and the Colombian legislature, I can announce that the U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement will enter into force next month on May 15th. (Applause.)

As I said before, this agreement is a win for both our countries. It’s a win for the United States by increasing our exports by more than $1 billion, supporting thousands of U.S. jobs and helping to achieve my goal of doubling U.S. exports. It’s a win for Colombia by giving you even greater access to the largest market for your exports — the United States of America. And I’d add that this agreement is a win for our workers and the environment because of the strong protections it has for both — commitments we are going to fulfill.

So, President Santos, thank you for your partnership in getting this done.

Colombia’s economic progress puts this nation on a path to join the ranks of developed nations. President Santos has made it a goal to seek membership in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. And today, I can announce that when Colombia is ready to seek it the United States will strongly support Colombia’s candidacy for the OECD. (Applause.) Moreover, we will actively encourage other members of the OECD to join us in supporting Colombia’s membership, which would be another symbol of Colombia’s transformation.

Alongside our deeper economic cooperation, we’re strengthening our security cooperation. The United States has been proud to stand with the Colombian people in their fight against the terrorist insurgency that took the lives of so many innocent civilians. I reaffirmed to President Santos that the United States will continue to stand with Colombia shoulder to shoulder as you work to end this conflict and build a just and lasting peace. And that includes supporting President Santos’s very ambitious reform agenda, including reparations for victims and land reform. And this afternoon I look forward to joining President Santos as he presents land titles to two Afro-Colombian communities, advancing the vision of a Colombia that is just and equitable.

As Colombia grows stronger at home, it’s increasingly playing a leadership role across the region — a third area where we’re deepening our partnership. Colombia has shared its expertise in security by training police officers in countries from Latin America to Afghanistan. Today, President Santos and I agreed that our two countries will work together to support our partners in Central America as they pursue a regional strategy to improve the security of their citizens.

And this is just one more example of how Colombia is contributing to security and peace beyond its borders, including as a current member of the U.N. Security Council. I want to take this opportunity to salute Colombian leadership, from supporting the recovery in Haiti to supporting sanctions against Iran, to standing up for the rights and freedoms of people in the Middle East and North Africa. And this week in Brazil, we’ll join nations from around the world in advancing the open government that empowers citizens and makes governments more accountable.

Finally, I’m very pleased that we’re deepening the ties between our peoples. As it now stands, visas for Colombians to visit the United States expire after five years. As was just mentioned, I’m announcing that these visas for Colombians will now be valid for 10 years. And this will make it easier — (applause) — this will make it easier for more Colombians to visit and experience the United States, and this is one more very tangible example of Colombia’s transformation and the transformation in the relationship between our two countries.

So, again, President Santos, thank you to you for your leadership. Thank you to the people of Cartagena and the people of Colombia for this outstanding summit and your great hospitality, the warmth that you’ve extended us and the other leaders who gathered here. It makes me very confident about Colombia’s future. (Applause.)

PRESIDENT SANTOS: Thank you. Thank you very much.

(As interpreted.) Well, there are some questions. I think — RCN TV, Juan Carlos, you have a question.

Q    Presidents, good afternoon. President Obama, today at the closing of the Summit of the Americas there was great expectation because you never came up with a document that would reflect a decision, and many people would say that Cuba and the Malvinas issue weren’t taken up as they should have. Does this have to do in any way with the electoral environment, the electoral context in the United States?

And to President Santos, today the State Department announced a new security plan for the region. What benefits do you see coming from this plan? Thank you very much.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, first of all, what it reflects is a lack of consensus among those who participated in the summit. The issue of Cuba I’ve discussed before. Since I came into office, we have made changes to our Cuba policy. We’ve increased remittances that are permissible from Cuban Americans sending money to their families to help support them back home. We’ve increased travel by family members to Cuba. And we have discussed in the OAS the pathway whereby Cuba can fully participate in some of these regional forums. But the fact of the matter is, is that Cuba, unlike the other countries that are participating, has not yet moved to democracy, has not yet observed basic human rights.

I am hopeful that a transition begins to take place inside of Cuba. And I assure you that I and the American people will welcome the time when the Cuban people have the freedom to live their lives, choose their leaders, and fully participate in this global economy and international institutions.

We haven’t gotten there yet. But as I indicated to President Santos and all the other leaders sitting around the table, we recognize that there may be an opportunity in the coming years, as Cuba begins to look at where it needs to go in order to give its people the kind of prosperity and opportunity that it needs, that it starts loosening up some of the constraints within that country. And that’s something that we will welcome.

I’m not somebody who brings to the table here a lot of baggage from the past, and I want to look at all these problems in a new and fresh way. But I also deeply believe in those principles that are contained not just in the OAS charter, but in the United Nations charter — that respect for individuals, respect for rule of law, respect for human rights that I think is part of the reason that we’re seeing an incredible transformation here in Colombia.

And in terms of the Maldives [sic] or the Falklands, whatever your preferred term, our position on this is that we are going to remain neutral. We have good relations with both Argentina and Great Britain, and we are looking forward to them being able to continue to dialogue on this issue. But this is not something that we typically intervene in.

PRESIDENT SANTOS: (As interpreted.) I would just like to repeat something that I said during the press conference this morning — early this afternoon — saying that the important thing of the summit is that we openly discussed all issues. This didn’t happen before. There were some issues that garnered agreement, others that didn’t. We reached an agreement on the five fundamental issues that were identified from the very outset, and the discussion on other issues was an open, candid discussion. It was fully respectful and productive, I would say.

And that is why I believe that in the aftermath of this summit we will have a better understanding of these challenges. Some will be solved in the short term; others in the longer term. There are others that we naturally won’t be able to resolve. But that is only natural. And summits such as these, where 33 countries participate, each one bringing to the table their own interest, each one bringing their own prism through which they look at things, but the positive thing is that we discuss these issues candidly and productively — a number of issues that were not even on the table before.

On the issue of security, with the United States we have very close coordination, and perhaps we don’t have this close relationship with any other country in the world. We have learned mutually from each other. They have helped us a great deal. As I said before, Plan Colombia was launched a few years ago, and it’s not just the amount of money that was offered through Plan Colombia, it was the quality of the assistance. And to us, that was a very important step. And anything that we can do along that road to improve security in the United States and Colombia and to share our experiences will be more than welcome.

Q    Thank you, both of you. President Obama, following up on my Colombian colleague’s question, could you address — he had referred to the electoral pressures that you face in the United States. Could you address the issue of how big Florida looms in terms of the United States policy towards Cuba?

And I wanted to ask quickly about the issue that has sort of hung over this Summit for the Americans [sic], is the controversy that involved members of the detail that is sworn to protect you. What did you — were you angry when you heard about this as you came here? And do you feel like there’s any — this is indicative of any broader cultural problem within the Secret Service, such as a leading Republican congressman suggested?

And President Santos — which President Obama you could also address this as well — I’m curious as to why you made drug trafficking such a prominent part of this summit when it could be argued that it detracted some from the attention you wanted to bring to the great progress that Colombia has made on economic and security issues. Thank you.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, first of all, my position on Cuba has been consistent. It hasn’t wavered before I was elected for President the first time; it didn’t change after I was elected for President; it hasn’t changed now. So let me repeat — separate and apart from whatever electoral concerns you’re describing, I want the people of Cuba, like people throughout this hemisphere, to have the opportunity to work, to raise their families, to start a business, to express themselves, to criticize their leaders — something that we in America take full advantage of — to replace them if they’re not working, which presumably is the aspiration of I think most people throughout Latin America.

And as I indicated in an interview earlier, I am sometimes puzzled by the degree to which countries that themselves have undergone enormous transformations, that have known the oppression of dictatorship, or have found themselves on the wrong side of a ruling elite and have suffered for it — why we would ignore that same principle here.

But, Jackie, as you know, I tend to be an optimistic person. And it is my hope that as Cuba looks at what’s happening in countries like Colombia and Brazil and Chile and throughout the region, they’re going to start saying to themselves, maybe there’s a new path to take in the 21st century. And when that happens they’re going to have a welcome hand extended by the United States of America.

On the Secret Service — these men and women perform extraordinary service on a day-to-day basis protecting me, my family, U.S. officials. They do very hard work under very stressful circumstances, and almost invariably do an outstanding job. And so I’m very grateful to the work that they do.

What happened here in Colombia is being investigated by the director of the Secret Service. I expect that investigation to be thorough and I expect it to be rigorous. If it turns out that some of the allegations that have been made in the press are confirmed, then of course I’ll be angry — because my attitude with respect to the Secret Service personnel is no different than what I expect out of my delegation that’s sitting here. We’re representing the people of the United States. And when we travel to another country, I expect us to observe the highest standards because we’re not just representing ourselves, we’re here on behalf of our people. And that means that we conduct ourselves with the utmost dignity and probity. And obviously what’s been reported doesn’t match up with those standards.

But again, I think I’ll wait until the full investigation is completed before I pass final judgment.

The final point I’ll make just on the issue you raised with President Santos about the issue of drug trafficking — I think it is wholly appropriate for us to discuss this issue because Colombia obviously has gone through a wrenching number of years dealing with this issue. It has been successful because of the courage and leadership not only of President Santos and his predecessors, but also because of Colombian security forces.

But you now have a number of countries in the region — in Central America and in the Caribbean — that are smaller, that have fewer resources and are starting to feel overwhelmed. And obviously we’ve been following what’s been happening in Mexico and the violence that’s been taking place there as a consequence of these narco-traffickers. So I think it wouldn’t make sense for us not to examine what works and what doesn’t, and to constantly try to refine and ask ourselves, is there something we can do to prevent violence, to weaken these drug traffickers, to make sure that they’re not peddling this stuff on our kids and they’re not perpetrating violence and corrupting institutions in the region. And I thought it was a good and useful and frank discussion.

As I said a couple of days ago, Jackie, I’m not somebody who believes that legalization is a path to solving this problem. But I do think that we can constantly ask ourselves are there additional steps we can take to be more creative, and are there ways that we can combine the law enforcement and interdiction approaches that we’ve successfully partnered with Colombia on with the public health approach that I think is important back home — making sure that we’re trying to reduce demand even as we try to choke off supply.

And so I’m looking forward to continuing to have that conversation. And based on the best evidence and the best ideas out there, hopefully we can continue to strengthen these efforts.

PRESIDENT SANTOS: (As interpreted.) If I understood your question correctly, it is why did we place drugs on the agenda when there are other more important things for the summit, or things that we should highlight about our country, such as the progress that we’ve achieved economically and in strengthening our democracy.

The question is well put, but the answer is in your court. The media were the ones that placed such a high level of attention on this issue. I said many times in the interviews that I conducted before this summit, I said I don’t want this issue to be the summit’s issue; I have no interest in having this issue as the sole summit issue. This is one of many issues that some countries want to put on the table for negotiations.

And what I said before is that, fortunately, during this summit there were no issues that were left off the table, everything was open, and this was one of the issues that was discussed. We discussed it frankly, candidly. We heard positions from President Obama, from the United States, and positions from other countries, and they were all laid out on the table. And I think this is a positive step and that if we can find paths that will provide more effective and cheaper mechanisms to fight against drug trafficking and organized crime, well, let’s work on that.

But it was never our intention for this issue to be the issue of the summit.

Caracol Televisión.

Q    President Obama, good afternoon. President Santos, good afternoon, sir. President Obama, you are the first U.S. President who comes to Colombia and stays three days, two nights in this beautiful city of Cartagena. How should Colombia and the world interpret this gesture? Is it an acknowledgment of the levels of security that we have here? Is it a gesture of trust in what President Santos has done? Or can we interpret it as a new phase beginning in the relations between the two countries?

And, President Santos, there are small business people who are very concerned about the FTA. What is your plan to deal with that, Mr. President?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, I think the answer is, all of the above. It is — this represents my confidence in the security of Colombia and the progress that’s been made. It represents my confidence in President Santos and the work that we’ve done together, as a culmination of the efforts that we began when we first met a couple of years ago. It highlights the deliverables coming out of this summit — not just the free trade agreement, but all the other work that has been done, such as the increase in the length of visitor visas. And it is consistent with the approach that I indicated I would take when I first came into office when it comes to Latin America and Central America.

This is a fast-growing part of the world. It is one of our largest trading partners — the entire region. We have Colombian Americans, Americans who originate from the Dominican Republic, from Guatemala, from Mexico, who are constantly contributing to the vitality and the strength of the United States. And so there is a natural bond that already exists. And it’s important that our governments build on that natural bond for the mutual benefit of both nations.

And my expectation is, is that we will continue to see the progress that’s been made in this summit in subsequent meetings that we have with Colombia. And I think that Colombia increasingly, precisely because it’s went through difficult times over these last several years, can end up being a role model for a lot of countries around the region because they’ll see, you know what, there’s hope — even in the midst of violence, even in the midst of difficulty — there’s the possibility of breaking through to the other side and achieving greater citizen security and greater prosperity.

And let me just mention — I know you asked the question to President Santos — but on the issue of small businesses, one of the things that I brought to the summit was a proposal that I think people are embracing throughout the region, and that is that we begin to focus more on small and medium-sized businesses, on women’s businesses, making sure that the benefits of trade don’t just go to the largest companies but also go to smaller entrepreneurs and business people.

Because in today’s globalized world there’s an opportunity for a small business or a medium-sized business to access a global marketplace and grow rapidly, and that means more jobs here in Colombia, and that means more jobs in the United States. So we don’t want trade to just be taking place at this layer up here; we want it to be taking place at every level because we think that’s going to be good for both our economies.

PRESIDENT SANTOS: (As interpreted.) You asked me about what contingency plan we have to help companies and people who were going to be adversely affected by the FTA. All free trade agreements have winners and they have losers, and in this case we have many more winners than losers. Employment wins. We will create jobs in Colombia. We estimate that more than 500,000 jobs will be created. We will benefit in economic growth. We have estimated that between .5 and 1 percent will be added to our growth rate over the long term, and that will be translated into benefits for the Colombians. And so we estimate that everybody will benefit from this.

Obviously there are some sectors that don’t traditionally benefit. But small and medium enterprises can be the ones that benefit the most. That happened in Peru, for example, when the Peru-U.S. FTA — we saw a major uptick of the number of SMEs that benefitted from this free trade agreement. We hope that that happens in Colombia as well, because thus far, Colombia has per capita exports which are very low, but we still have the great potential to bolster our free trade and our exports in those sectors that are vulnerable — which have been identified as vulnerable, are the focus of a series of policies and efforts that will help them weather the storm, to be transformed, to be more competitive, and to be able to face the competition that will open up with this new FTA. That has happened with every free trade agreement that has been signed in the past.

What’s important is that the final result yields more benefits than otherwise. And we have no doubts that in this case it will have more benefit for everyone.

Q    Thank you, sir. Yesterday, the President of Brazil was talking about the importance not only of growing the economic pie but making sure that it’s divided more equitably. I wondered how you think that applies within the United States, where the idea of spreading the wealth around isn’t always warmly greeted, and how, for example, with this free trade agreement you make sure that the benefits are widely shared. And if I may, sir, on an unrelated topic, if I could get your reaction to Prime Minister Netanyahu’s comment that the P5-plus-1 had given Iran a freebie with this additional time.

And for President Santos, what responsibility do you believe the countries of Latin America, especially those that have become more democratic, have for helping to bring Cuba into the democratic fold?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: The goal of any government should be to create security for its citizens, and to give them opportunity to achieve prosperity and to pass that prosperity on to their kids. And I’m a strong believer that the free market is the best tool ever invented to create wealth.

But what’s true in every country is that we always have to think about whether every single person is getting a fair shot, where they actually have opportunity. Is everybody doing their fair share to support the common efforts that are required to create a platform for growth? Is everybody playing by the same set of rules? And I think the history of the United States, the reason we became an economic superpower is because — not only perfectly, not always consistently, but better than any other country on Earth — we were able to give opportunity to everybody. That’s what the American Dream was all about.

So when we have debates now about our tax policy, when we have debates now about the Buffett Rule that we’ve been talking about where we say if you make a million dollars a year or more you shouldn’t pay a lower tax rate than your secretary, that is not an argument about redistribution — that is an argument about growth. Because the history of the United States is we grow best when our growth is broad-based. We grow best when our middle class is strong. We grow best when everybody has opportunity. And that means that somebody who has a great idea and selling a great product or service, we want them to get rich. That’s great. But we also want to make sure that we as a society are investing in that young kid who comes from a poor family who has incredible talent and might be able to get rich as well.

And that means we’ve got to build good schools, and we’ve got to make sure that that child can go to college. And we also want to make sure that we keep our scientific edge, and that means we’ve got to invest in basic research. And that means that we’ve got to have some basic safety net, because people are more willing to take risks that are required for the free market to work if they know that if they fall on hardship, if something happens, that there’s still some floor that they can’t fall beneath, and that they’ll be able to retire with some dignity and some respect.

And so one of the things that we’re going to be talking about over the next several months as we debate the budget and government spending and the proper role of government, is just — I want everybody to remember, I’m going to say this repeatedly — this is not an argument about taking from A to give to B. This is not a redistributionist argument that we’re making. We’re making an argument about how do we grow the economy so that it’s going to prospering in this competitive 21st century environment. And the only way we’re going to do that is if people like me, who have been incredibly blessed, are willing to give a little bit back so that the next generation coming along can succeed as well. And the more people that succeed, the better off the country is going to be.

With respect to the Iranian talks, I’ve been very clear on this. Iran has violated U.N. Security Council resolutions. They’re the only country that’s a member of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, the NPT, that cannot convince the international community that they are abiding by the rules governing the NPT. And not just the United States, but the world community is now imposing some of the toughest sanctions that we’ve ever seen, and there are more to come. And it is my view that it would be contrary to the security interests of the United States, and destabilizing for the world and the region if Iran pursues, develops, obtains a nuclear weapon. So I’ve been very clear, and I’ve been talking about this quite a bit lately.

What I’ve also been clear about is that the best way to resolve this issue is diplomatically, and my belief that we still have a window in which to resolve this conflict diplomatically. That window is closing, and Iran needs to take advantage of it. But it is absolutely the right thing to do for the U.S. government, working in concert with the other permanent members of the Security Council, with Germany, with the rest of the world community, to pursue this path.

Part of the reason we’re been able to build a strong international coalition that isolates Iran around the nuclear issues is because the world has confidence that I’ve been sincere and my administration has been sincere about giving Iran an opportunity to pursue peaceful nuclear energy while foreclosing the pursuit of a nuclear weapon. That strengthens our hand. That’s part of the reason why we’ve been able to execute on these strong sanctions. And we’re going to keep on seeing if we make progress.

Now, the clock is ticking. And I’ve been very clear to Iran and to our negotiating partners that we’re not going to have these talks just drag out in a stalling process. But so far, at least, we haven’t given away anything — other than the opportunity for us to negotiate and see if Iran comes to the table in good faith. And the notion that somehow we’ve given something away or “a freebie,” would indicate that Iran has gotten something — in fact, they’ve got some of the toughest sanctions that they’re going to be facing coming up in just a few months if they don’t take advantage of these talks. I hope they do.

Was there an — you guys ask too many questions. I start forgetting them.

President Santos.

PRESIDENT SANTOS: (As interpreted.) Any foreign policy has a formula: Interests plus principles equals a foreign policy. So how do you combine these interests and principles, and how you defend those principles is what makes a foreign policy. In our case and in the case of many countries — countries that believe in freedom and democracy — we have the obligation to make sure that those principles are applied in every form possible and in every place possible.

But there are different formulas to defend and apply those principles as well. There are certain paths that are more effective than others. In some cases, sanctions may work. Generally they don’t, but they may work in some cases. In some other cases, it has been proven that sanctions are not the solution, and in these cases we need to then pursue the defense of those principles through other ways.

And in our case, Colombia and other Latin American countries that believe in democracy and believe in freedom, we have the obligation to pursue those principles following the most effective path. And I believe that that can yield the best results.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Thank you very much, everybody.

PRESIDENT SANTOS: Muchas gracias. (Applause.)

5:17 P.M. COT


Remarks by President Obama at CEO Summit of the Americas

Gran Salon Bolivar

Hilton Hotel

Cartagena, Colombia

10:43 A.M. COT

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, first of all, I want to thank President Santos and the people of Colombia for the extraordinary hospitality in the beautiful city of Cartagena. We’re having a wonderful time. And usually when I take these summit trips, part of my job is to scout out where I may want to bring Michelle back later for vacation. So we’ll make sure to come back sometime in the near future. (Applause.)

I want to acknowledge Luis Moreno of IDB, as well as Luis Villegas of the National Business Association of Colombia, for helping to set this up, and everybody who’s participating.

As President Rousseff indicated, obviously we’ve gone through some very challenging times. These last three years have been as difficult for the world economy as anything that we’ve seen in our lifetimes. And it is both a result of globalization and it is also a result of shifts in technology. The days when we could think of each of our economies in isolation, those days are long gone. What happens in Wall Street has an impact in Rio. What happens in Bogota has an impact in Beijing.

And so I think the challenge for all of our countries, and certainly the challenge for this hemisphere, is how do we make sure that that globalization and that integration is benefiting a broad base of people, that economic growth is sustainable and robust, and that it is also giving opportunity to a growing, wider circle of people, and giving businesses opportunities to thrive and create new products and new services and enjoy this global marketplace.

Now, I think the good news is this hemisphere is very well positioned in this global economy. It is remarkable to see the changes that have been taking place in a relatively short period of time in Latin and Central America and in the Caribbean. When you look at the extraordinary growth that’s taken place in Brazil, first under President Lula and now under President Rousseff, when you think about the enormous progress that’s been made here in Colombia under President Santos and his predecessor, what you see is that a lot of the old arguments on the left and the right no longer apply.

And what people are asking is, what works? How do we think in practical terms about delivering prosperity, training our people so that they can compete in the global economy? How do we create rule of law that allows businesses to invest with some sense of security and transparency? How do we invest in science and technology? How do we make sure that we have open and free trade at the same time as we’re making sure that the benefits of free trade are distributed both between nations but also within nations?

And the good news is I think that, through various international organizations and organizations here within the hemisphere, we’ve seen enormous progress. Trade between the United States and Latin, Central — South America, Central America and the Caribbean has expanded 46 percent since I came into office — 46 percent.

Before I came to Cartagena, I stopped in Tampa, Florida, which is the largest port in Florida. And they are booming and expanding. And the reason is, is because of the enormous expansion of trade and commerce with this region. It’s creating jobs in Florida, and it’s creating jobs in Colombia, and it’s creating jobs in Brazil and throughout the region. Businesses are seeing that if they have an outstanding product or an outstanding service, they don’t have to restrict themselves to one market, they now have a regional market and ultimately a global market in which they can sell their goods and succeed.

A couple of things that I think will help further facilitate this productive integration: Number one, the free trade agreement that we’ve negotiated between Colombia and the United States is an example of a free trade agreement that benefits both sides. It’s a win-win. It has high standards — (applause) — it’s a high-standards agreement. It’s not a race to the bottom, but rather it says each country is abiding by everything from strong rules around labor and the environment to intellectual property protection. And so I have confidence that as we implement this plan, what we’re going to see is extraordinary opportunities for both U.S. and Colombian businesses.

So trade agreements of the sort that we have negotiated, thanks to the leadership of President Santos and his administration, I think point the way to the future.

In addition, I think there is the capacity for us to cooperate on problems that all countries face, and I’ll take just one example — the issue of energy. All of us recognize that if we’re going to continue to grow our economies effectively, then we’re going to have to adapt to the fact that fossil fuels are a finite resource and demand is going up much faster than supply. There are also, obviously, significant environmental concerns that we have to deal with. So for us to cooperate on something like joint electrification and electric grid integration, so that a country like Brazil, that is doing outstanding work in biofuels or hydro-energy, has the ability to export that energy but also teach best practices to countries within the region, create new markets for clean energy throughout the region — which benefits those customers who need electricity but also benefit those countries that are top producers of energy — that’s another example of the kind of progress that we can make together.

On the education front, every country in the region recognizes that if we’re going to compete with Asia, if we’re going to compete with Europe, we’ve got to up our game. We have to make sure that we’ve got the best-trained workers in the world, we’ve got the best education system in the world. And so the work that President Rousseff and I are doing together to try to significantly expand educational exchanges and send young people who are studying science and engineering and computer science to the United States to study if they’re Brazilian, down to Brazil to study best practices in clean energy in Brazil — there’s enormous opportunity for us to work together to train our young people so that this hemisphere is filled with outstanding entrepreneurs and workers, and allows us to compete more effectively.

So there are a number of areas where I think cooperation is proceeding. Sometimes it’s not flashy. I think that oftentimes in the press the attention in summits like this ends up focusing on where are the controversies. Sometimes those controversies date back to before I was born. (Laughter.) And sometimes I feel as if in some of these discussions or at least the press reports we’re caught in a time warp, going back to the 1950s and gunboat diplomacy and Yanquis and the Cold War, and this and that and the other. That’s not the world we live in today.

And my hope is, is that we all recognize this enormous opportunity that we’ve got. And I know the business leaders who are here today, they understand it; they understand that we’re in a new world, and we have to think in new ways.

Last point I want to make — I think when you think about the extraordinary success in Brazil, the success in Colombia, a big piece of that is governance. You can’t, I believe, have, over the long term, successful economies if you don’t have some basic principles that are being followed: democracy and rule of law, human rights being observed, freedom of expression. And I think — and also personal security, the capacity for people to feel as if they work hard then they’re able to achieve, and they have motivation to start a business and to know that their own work will pay off.

And I just want to compliment both Brazil and Colombia, coming from different political traditions, but part of the reason why you’ve seen sustained growth is governments have worked effectively in each country. And I think that when we look at how we’re going to integrate further and take advantage of increased opportunity in the future, it’s very important for us not to ignore how important it is to have a clean, transparent, open government that is working on behalf of its people.

And that’s important to business as well. The days when a business feels good working in a place where people are being oppressed — ultimately that’s an unstable environment for you to do business. You do business well when you know that it’s a well-functioning society and that there’s a legitimate government in place that is going to be looking out for its people.

So I just want to thank both of my outstanding partners here. They’re true leaders in the region. And I can speak, I think, for the United States to say that we’ve never been more excited about the prospects of working as equal partners with our brothers and sisters in Latin America and the Caribbean, because that’s going to be the key to our success. (Applause.)

* * * *

MR. MATTHEWS: President Santos, I guess there are some issues in America — we have a very large Hispanic population. Ten percent of our electorate is going to be Hispanic in background. We are the second-largest Spanish-speaking country in the world after Mexico. People have dual languages in the United States, of course, but there is so much Spanish speaking. You have the chance to sit next to President Obama now. Do you want to ask him about the ways you think the United States could help your country in the drug war?

* * * *

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Do you want me to respond?

MR. MATTHEWS: Yes, sir.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, this is a conversation that I’ve had with President Santos and others. Just as the world economy is integrated, so, unfortunately, the drug trade is integrated. And we can’t look at the issue of supply in Latin America without also looking at the issue of demand in the United States. (Applause.)

And so whether it’s working with President Santos or supporting the courageous work that President Calderón is doing in Mexico, I, personally, and my administration and I think the American people understand that the toll of narco-trafficking on the societies of Central America, Caribbean, and parts of South America are brutal, and undermining the capacity of those countries to protect their citizens, and eroding institutions and corrupting institutions in ways that are ultimately bad for everybody.

So this is part of the reason why we’ve invested, Chris, about $30 billion in prevention programs, drug treatment programs looking at the drug issue not just from a law enforcement and interdiction issue, but also from a public health perspective. This is why we’ve worked in unprecedented fashion in cooperation with countries like Mexico on not just drugs coming north, but also guns and cash going south.

This is one of the reasons why we have continued to invest in programs like Plan Colombia, but also now are working with Colombia, given their best practices around issues of citizen security, to have not just the United States but Colombia provide technical assistance and training to countries in Central America and the Caribbean in finding ways that they can duplicate some of the success that we’ve seen in Colombia.

So we’re mindful of our responsibilities on this issue. And I think it is entirely legitimate to have a conversation about whether the laws in place are ones that are doing more harm than good in certain places.

I personally, and my administration’s position, is that legalization is not the answer; that, in fact, if you think about how it would end up operating, that the capacity of a large-scale drug trade to dominate certain countries if they were allowed to operate legally without any constraint could be just as corrupting if not more corrupting then the status quo.

Nevertheless, I’m a big believer in looking at the evidence, having a debate. I think ultimately what we’re going to find is, is that the way to solve this problem is both in the United States, us dealing with demand in a more effective way, but it’s also going to be strengthening institutions at home.

You mentioned earlier, the biggest thing that’s on everybody’s minds — whether it’s the United States, Canada, Brazil, Colombia, Jamaica — is, can I find a job that allows me to support my family and allows my children to advance and feel secure. And in those societies where you’ve got strong institutions, you’ve got strong business investment, you’ve got rule of law, you have a law enforcement infrastructure that is sound, and an economy that’s growing — that country is going to be like a healthy body that is more immune than countries that have weak institutions and high unemployment, in which kids see their only future as participating in the drug trade because nobody has actually trained them to get a job with Google, or Pepsi, or start their own small business.

And so I think that it’s important for us not to think that if somehow we look at the drug issue in isolation, in the absence of dealing with some of these other challenges — institutional challenges and barriers to growth and opportunity and the capacity for people to climb their way out of poverty, that we’re going to be able to solve this problem. The drug issue in this region is, in some ways, a cause, but it’s also, in some ways, an effect of some broader and underlying problems. And we as the United States have an obligation not only to get our own house in order but also to help countries in a partnership to try to see if we can move in a better direction. (Applause.)

* * * *

MR. MATTHEWS: Mr. President, do you want to respond? I think the question that seems to be apparent here in the last couple of days is, first of all, tremendous enthusiasm, a zeitgeist here that’s almost unusual in the world for positive optimism about the development in this part of the world. It’s not like it was — just isn’t the way it was we grew up with.

The challenge I think you just heard from the President of Brazil was the notion that Latin America is not interested in being our complementary economy anymore — the agricultural end while we do the industrial end; they do the provision of raw materials and we do the finest and highest-level high-tech work. How do we either respond to Brazil’s demand, really, to be partners and rivals — they want to use our educational resources, they want to come north to learn how to compete with us — right, Madam President? You want to be equals. You want to learn everything we know, and then take it back and shove it at us, right? (Laughter.) Isn’t that it?

Well, anyway, that’s the response — I’d ask you for your response. (Laughter.)

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Chris, I’m not sure you’re characterizing what President Rousseff said — (laughter) — but this is what happens when you get some of our U.S. political commentators moderating a panel. (Laughter.) They try to stir up things that may not always be there. (Applause.) And Chris is good at it. He’s one of the best. (Laughter.)

But, look, this is already happening. This is already happening. Brazil has changed, Colombia has changed — and we welcome the change. The notion somehow that we see this as a problem is just not the case, because if we’ve got a strong, growing, prosperous middle class in Latin America, those are new customers for our businesses. (Applause.)

Brazil is growing and that opportunity is broad-based, then suddenly they’re interested in buying iPads, and they’re interested in buying Boeing airplanes and — (laughter.)

PRESIDENT ROUSSEFF: Boeing — Embraer. (Laughter and applause.)

PRESIDENT OBAMA: I was just trying to see how she’d respond to that. (Laughter.) But the point is, is that that’s a market for us. So we in the United States should welcome not just growth, but broad-based growth, of the sort that President Rousseff described.

I’ll give you just — I said I was in Tampa. All those containers that are coming in, they have, in some cases, commodities coming from Latin America, but they also have finished products that are coming in from Latin America. We have commodities that are going into Latin America that we’re sending back on those containers, as well as finished products. And so this is a two-way street.

When I came into office, one of my first decisions was to say that the G20 was not a temporary thing to respond to the world economic crisis; this should be the permanent forum for determining and coordinating direction in the world economy. And frankly, there were some folks who were members of the G8 who were upset with me about that determination, but realistically you can’t coordinate world economic issues if you don’t have China and Brazil and India and South Africa at the table — and Mexico. That’s not possible.

So the world has changed. I think the United States and U.S. businesses stand to benefit from those changes. But it does mean that we have to adapt to that competitive environment. And all the advantages that President Rousseff mentioned we have as the United States — its flexibility, our scientific edge, our well-educated workforce, our top universities — those are the things that we continue to have to build and get better at. And that’s true for every country here.

Every one of the businesses here are going to be making determinations about where you locate based on the quality of the workforce, how much investment you have to make in training somebody to handle a million-dollar piece of equipment. Do you feel as if your intellectual property is going to be protected? Do you feel as if there’s a good infrastructure to be able to get your products to market? And so I think this is a healthy competition that we should be encouraging.

And what I’ve said at the first summit that I came to, Summit of the Americas that I came to, was we do not believe there are junior partners and senior partners in this situation. We believe there are partners. And Brazil is in many ways ahead of us on something like biofuels; we should learn from them. And if we’re going to be trying to mount a regional initiative, let’s make sure that Brazil is taking the lead. It doesn’t have to be us in every situation.

Now, the flip side is — and I’ll close with this — I think in Latin America, part of the change in mentality is also not always looking to the United States as the reason for everything that happens that goes wrong. (Applause.)

I was in an interview — several interviews yesterday. These were actually with Spanish-speaking television stations that have broadcast back in the United States. And the first interviewer said, why hasn’t the United States done more to promote democracy in the region, because you’ve done a lot in the Arab Spring but it seems as if you’re not dealing with some of the problems here in Latin America. The next questioner said, why are you being so hard on Cuba and promoting democracy all the time? (Laughter and applause.) That’s an example, I think, of some of the challenges we face that are rooted in legitimate historical grievances. But it gets — it becomes a habit.

When it comes to economic integration and exchanges, I am completely sympathetic to the fact that there are challenges around monetary policy in developed and less-developed countries. And Brazil, for example, has seen the Real appreciate in ways that had been hurtful. I would argue a lot of that has to do with the failure of some other countries to engage in rebalancing, not the United States. But having said that, I think there’s not a country in Latin America who doesn’t want to see the United States grow rapidly because we’re your major export market.

And so most of these issues end up being complicated issues. Typically, they involve both actions in the United States as well as actions in the other countries if we’re going to optimize the kind of growth and prosperity and broad-based opportunity that both President Santos and President Rousseff have spoken about.

And the United States comes here and says: We’re ready to do business. We are open to a partnership. We don’t expect to be able to dictate the terms of that partnership, we expect it to be a negotiation based on mutual interest and mutual respect. And I think we’re all going to benefit as a consequence of that. (Applause.)

MR. MATTHEWS: Thank you very much, President Rousseff, President Santos, and my President, President Obama. Thank you. It’s been an honor.


11:40 A.M. COT

Remarks of President Barack Obama — As Prepared for Delivery — Summit of the Americas Opening Plenary

Summit of the Americas Opening Plenary

Cartagena, Colombia

Saturday, April 14, 2012

As Prepared for Delivery –

Thank you, President Santos, for welcoming us here today and for your leadership in bringing our nations together. Thank you to you, Foreign Minister Holguin and to the people of Cartagena and Colombia for your wonderful hospitality.

I think it’s fair to say that not so long ago, few could have imagined this summit occurring here – in this city, in this nation. But in Colombia today we see a level of security and economic growth not enjoyed in decades. This reflects the leadership of President Santos and the incredible sacrifices of the Colombian people. It also speaks to the progress we’re seeing across the Americas.

In the dynamism of our hemisphere, we’ve learned anew an old truth – as nations, as neighbors, we rise and fall together. So I say to my fellow leaders, and to the citizens you represent – your success is absolutely vital to our shared future, including to the security and prosperity of the United States. Indeed, no other region so profoundly affects the daily lives of people in the United States, including the tens of millions of Hispanic Americans who bind our families and nations. I firmly believe that this region is only going to become more important to our future.

That’s why, at our summit three years ago in Trinidad and Tobago, I pledged to seek partnerships of equality, based on mutual interest and mutual respect and rooted in shared responsibility. I’ll say it again – in the Americas there are no senior or junior partners, we’re simply partners. That’s the spirit that’s allowed us to make progress in recent years. And it’s the spirit of this summit – “Connecting the Americas” – which we need to sustain our momentum in key areas.

First, our shared prosperity. Across the region, tens of millions of people have joined the middle class, creating new markets and jobs for us all. But too many still endure the injustice of poverty and inequality, and it’s estimated that trade across the hemisphere is just half of what it could be. So we’ve worked together to increase lending through the Inter-American Development Bank, promote microfinance, reform tax systems, eliminate barriers to investment and forge clean energy and climate partnerships. In the United States, we’ve secured trade agreements with Colombia and Panama and increased trade with Brazil and others. With partners like Chile and Peru, we’re making progress toward a Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Here in Cartagena, we’re going further. With the Small Business Network of the Americas I launched yesterday, we’ll make it easier for our small and medium-sized companies to export and create jobs. With our “WE Americas” initiative, we’ll help women entrepreneurs compete and succeed. Our hemisphere is setting a new goal – universal access to electricity in one decade so families and businesses have the energy they need at a price they can afford. And to ensure that no one is left behind in our digital age, today I’m proposing a Broadband Partnership of the Americas to provide faster Internet to more communities, especially in rural areas.

We also advance our shared prosperity when we deepen the connections between our peoples. So we’re making it easier for tourists and businesspeople to travel and trade. We’re increasing the number of U.S. students studying in Latin America to 100,000, and the number of Latin American students studying in the United States to 100,000. I’ve also made it easier for workers in the United States to send the remittances that sustain so many families in the Americas.

Second, our shared security. Across the region, governments and security forces have shown extraordinary courage against the narco-traffickers and gangs that threaten our people. Leaders like Colombia, Chile and Mexico are sharing their security expertise with neighbors. As your partner, the United States has increased our support – from speeding up the delivery of equipment and training to Mexico to strengthening security cooperation in Central America and the Caribbean. Today, I can announce that the United States will increase our commitment – to more than $130 million this year – to support the regional security strategy led by our Central American friends.

This is a very difficult fight. I know there are frustrations and that some call for legalization. For the sake of the health and safety of our citizens – all our citizens – the United States will not be going in this direction. Here in Cartagena, I hope we can focus on our mutual responsibilities. As I’ve said many times, the United States accepts our share of responsibility for drug violence. That’s why we’ve dedicated major resources to reducing the southbound flow of money and guns to the region. It’s why we’ve devoted tens of billions of dollars in the United States to reduce the demand for drugs. And I promise you today – we’re not going to relent in our efforts.

Finally, advancing democracy and human rights. In the Inter-American Democratic Charter our nations declared that “the people of the Americas have a right to democracy and their governments have an obligation to promote and defend it.” Because we defended it, most people in the Americas now live in democracies. Because we defended it, in Honduras, we laid the foundation for the return to the rule of law.

When the universal human rights are denied, when the independence of judiciaries or legislatures or the press is threatened, we will speak out. And together, as we’re doing in Brazil this coming week, we’ll advance the open government upon which human rights and progress depend.

Increasing the trade and development that creates jobs for us all. Defending the security of our citizens. Standing up for democracy and human rights. This is progress we’ve made – together. This is the work we must continue – together. My fellow leaders, between us we represent nearly one billion people. They ask nothing more than that we come together and make the progress that none of us can achieve alone. We can go further together. That’s why we’re here. And that will remain the work of the United States, as your partner and friend.

History Buzz April 16, 2012: Darlene Clark Hine: First Lady Michelle Obama, Paradox, African American Studies Professor & Historian Says


History Buzz


Darlene Clark Hine: First Lady Michelle Obama, paradox, African American Studies Professor & Historian Says

Source: WaPo, 4-16-12

President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama arrive to welcome Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron and his wife Samantha Cameron to the White House prior to a state dinner. (Susan Walsh – AP) Northwestern University.

“Michelle Obama is a genuine paradox,” said Michel, a professor of African American studies and history at Hine’s lecture, part of a black studies conference at the university last week, argued that the first lady is a “transformative, liberationist” figure — despite her interest in domestic issues and the long list of magazine cover stories focused on topics such as Obama’s approach to motherhood or the importance of healthful eating.

“I caution: Let us not be distracted by a first lady draped in gowns, gracing the covers of women’s magazine’s from ‘Essence’ to ‘Vogue’ or a first lady on her knees planting a White House garden or a first lady jumping double-dutch rope with an array of young girls,” Hine said. “Rather let us appreciate the paradox.”

“What you think you see and know of her may not be all that is important to know about her,” Hine said in an interview after her lecture. “People see her as these labels – black and woman – and they see her acting in domestic ways – focused on home, hearth and family – as if there is no political agenda.”

“She is using the politics of self-development, neighborliness, and that will lead the the future election of just and humane individuals,” Hine said. “The lives you save today will make the changes that you suggest to them in the future.”

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