“The challenge for all of our countries, as well as this hemisphere, is how to we make sure that globalization and integration is benefiting a broad base of people,” Obama said. “A lot of the old arguments on the left and on the right no longer apply. What people are asking is: ‘What works?’ ”
The summit has been a celebration of Latin America’s recent economic success, and its leaders have expressed that confidence here by openly criticizing several U.S. policies.
At the forum, Chris Matthews, the MSNBC talk-show host who served as moderator, asked whether Santos and Rousseff wanted to ask Obama what he could do to help their countries in the U.S.-funded “drug war.” Many regional leaders, including Santos, are questioning its effectiveness.
“Do you have an easier question, Chris?” Santos began, to laughter.
He continued by saying that Colombia, which has received billions in U.S. anti-drug aid over the past decade, is grateful for the help. “But,” he said, “I think we have the obligation, not only as a country but in the world, to analyze to see if we are doing the best that can be done.”
Obama agreed that “we cannot look at the issue of supply without also looking at the issue of demand in the United States,” drawing applause.
He also delivered a little tough love to his Latin American partners.
Obama cited the criticism he receives for not doing enough to promote democracy in Latin America, yet at the same time “being so hard” on the unelected Communist government of Cuba by maintaining the decades-old embargo.
“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,” Obama said, also to applause.