At La Moneda
President Obama lauds progress in Chile and Latin America
The 30-minute keynote speech of the Commander-in-Chief of the United States was the centerpiece of the first official visit of a US President to Chile since 1990.
Tuesday, March 22, 2011
President Obama: “When a country like Chile puts its mind to it, there’s nothing you can’t do.”
President Barack Obama gave what advisers have called the keynote address of his Latin American tour in Santiago before an audience of reporters, government officials, and four of the five Chilean presidents who have held office since the fall of the Pinochet dictatorship (former President Michelle Bachelet was absent).
In the course of the speech, President Obama lauded the remarkable progress made throughout Latin America in security and democracy as well as economic and social development.
“The future is being forged by the countries and peoples of Latin America,” said Mr. Obama. “For Latin America is not the old stereotype of a region in perpetual conflict or trapped in endless cycles of poverty. The world must now recognize Latin America for the dynamic and growing region that it truly is.”
Indeed, the region’s stability and economic progress are all the more remarkable given the troubled past of so many of Latin America’s nations. In light of the last several months’ events in the Middle East and North Africa – and particularly against the backdrop of recent military action in Libya – the emergence of nations throughout the Americas from dictatorship to democracy was among the driving forces of President Obama’s speech.
“At a time when people around the world are reaching for their freedoms, Chile shows that, yes, it is possible to transition from dictatorship to democracy -- and to do so peacefully,” Mr. Obama remarked, delivering his speech from the Presidential Palace of La Moneda, the very place where General Pinochet seized power in 1973; now the heart of Chile’s democratic government.
As the first official Presidential visit to Chile since 1990, Mr. Obama’s trip marks a new stage in Chile’s integration into the globalized world. “Throughout our history, this land has been called ‘el fin de la tierra – the end of the world. But I’ve come here today because in the 21st century this nation is a vital part of our interconnected world,” Mr. Obama said.
“Despite barriers of distance and geography, you’ve integrated Chile into the global economy, trading with countries all over the world and, in this Internet age, becoming the most digitally connected country in Latin America,” he continued.
At the end of his speech, Mr. Obama turned his attention to the remarkable story of the 33 Chilean miners who emerged under the gaze of the whole world in October of last year. “As the miners were lifted to safety […] it was a truly global moment, watched and celebrated by more than a billion people,” President Obama said.
“When a country like Chile puts its mind to it, there’s nothing you can’t do,” President Obama continued. “When countries across Latin America come together and focus on a common goal, when the United States and others in the world do our part, there’s nothing we can’t accomplish together.”