Senator Barack Obama
TC Williams High School
Feb 10, 2008
I don't actually agree with Chavez's policies and how he's dealing with his people. I think he has consolidated power. I think he has strong despotic tendencies. I think that he has been using oil revenue to stir up trouble against the United States. So, he is not a leader that I admire.
But we can't, our Latin America policy can not just be "I oppose Castro" and "I oppose Chavez" and that's the end of it. Because we've been neglecting, (applause) we've been neglecting Latin America even in our own back yard. We've been so obssessed with Iraq and so obsessed with the Middle East.
In the meantime, China has been sending diplomats and economic development specialists and building roads all throughout, all throughout, Latin America. They are securing trade agreements and contracts. And we ignore Latin America at our own peril.
So, I intend to visit the countries of Latin America. I intend to put together a alliance for progress in the 21st century. We are going to strengthen trade ties. We are going to talk about human rights. (applause) We are going to talk about human rights and we are going to talk about freedom of the press and we are going to talk about political prisoners in Cuba.
But we're also going to recognize that over time what we want to develop is the kind of relationship of mutual dignity, mutual respect. We don't have, the notion that Latin American countries are a junior partner to the United States, that is outmoded. We need to be full partners with those countries, show them the respect that they deserve.
Thanks to Center for Democracy in the Americas. See video here.