By Diego Graglia, FI2W web editor
Four years ago, President George W. Bush arrived in Mar del Plata, Argentina, escorted by U.S. Navy ships and hounded by thousands of demonstrators who rejected a U.S. initiative to create a hemispheric free trade zone. Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez and Bolivian then-presidential candidate Evo Morales joined football star Diego Maradona and the Mothers of Plaza de Mayo in a parallel demonstration that filled a soccer stadium with anti-Bush, anti-U.S. slogans.
This past weekend, the Summit of the Americas met in the Caribbean island of Trinidad and the mood was much calmer. When it was over, many in the Latin American news media joined their nations’ leaders in hailing what they described as the start of a new era in inter-American relations.
Latin American columnists this morning confirmed the consensus emerging from Trinidad over the weekend: the region is ready for a rapprochement with the U.S.
“Few times had a gringo president arrived in a summit of the American continent like Barack Obama did last Friday in Trinidad and Tobago,” Colombian newsweekly Semana said. “The president had solved a great number of the things his Latin American colleagues were going to ask from him.” Semana mentioned Obama’s statements in favor of immigration reform, his vows to help Mexico fight drug cartels and last week’s softening of U.S. policy towards Cuba.