The Times West Virginian

World News

May 5, 2013

Issues back home trail Obama on Latin America trip

SAN JOSE, Costa Rica — President Barack Obama’s trip to Latin America had a decidedly domestic feel, with issues such as immigration, energy and education that are in the forefront of U.S. political debate also dominating his talks with regional leaders.

The shared priorities show how closely entwined the U.S. is with its southern neighbors. These ties stem not only from geography, but also from the growing number of Hispanics living in the United States — and their rapidly increasing political power.

“The United States recognizes our fates are tied up with your success,” Obama said Saturday during an economic forum in San Jose, the Costa Rican capital where he wrapped up his three-day trip.

“If you are doing well, we will do better. And if we are doing well, we think your situation improves,” he said.

Obama’s stops in Mexico and Costa Rica marked his first visit to Latin America since winning re-election last November. His second-term victory resulted in part from the overwhelming support he received from Hispanic voters.

The election results have led Republicans to reconsider their opposition to overhauling U.S. immigration laws, and a bipartisan bill is now being considered on Capitol Hill.

The immigration debate is under close watch in Latin America, and Obama was asked often about it. He used the opportunity to address the concerns of Republican lawmakers, who argue that the U.S. must secure its 2,000-mile border with Mexico before offering a path to citizenship for many of the 11 million people already in the U.S. illegally.

Appealing to congressional concerns over spending, Obama said he is looking for ways for Mexico to pick up some of the cost of enforcing security at the border.

“When it comes to borders, they’re shared,” he said. “Are there ways in which we can share some of the costs of continual infrastructure upgrades?”

Obama was greeted warmly in Costa Rica, with crowds gathering along the roads in San Jose to watch his motorcade speed from the economic forum to the airport, where Air Force One waited to take him back to Washington.

Obama’s agenda in Costa Rica included meetings with President Laura Chinchilla and talks with several Central American leaders. The president opened his visit Thursday in Mexico, where he held talks with new President Enrique Pena Nieto.

Throughout his trip, Obama tried to play down the fight against drug trafficking and organized crime that has dominated the U.S. relationship with Latin America for years.

He aimed to recast the relationship as one centered on economic issues, arguing that boosting jobs and growth is a central part of resolving the region’s security issues.  

“It’s very hard to create a strong economy when people are personally feeling insecure,” he told an audience of business and community leaders at Saturday’s economic forum.

During a question-and-answer session, Obama was pressed about clean energy and early childhood education, two issues he has been promoting at the start of his second term.

On education, Obama highlighted a proposal from his State of the Union address to significantly expand prekindergarten education, calling it the single most effective way to boost educational outcomes in the U.S.

But the president said he was unsure whether his plan would pass. Republican lawmakers are reluctant to expand the scope of government, and even more resistant to new taxes, such as the nearly $1-per-pack federal tax on cigarettes Obama proposed in his budget this year to pay for the expanded schooling.

“It’s always a struggle to get new revenue for worthy endeavors,” Obama said.

He also pressed for energy cooperation between the U.S. and Central America, which has high energy costs but also substantial renewable energy resources. Companies in the region are among those petitioning the U.S. Department of Energy for exports of U.S. stockpiles of liquefied natural gas.

Federal law requires approval of natural gas exports to countries that have a free-trade agreement with the United States, including Mexico. For countries that do not have such an agreement with the U.S., the department is required to grant applications for export authorizations.

Obama said a decision on the permits would be coming soon, and he urged the two regions to enhance cooperation on technology, infrastructure and expertise needed to advance a long-term transition away from oil and gas.

“If any of us find good answers to renewable energy, that will spread like wildfire and everyone will benefit,” Obama said.

The president’s trip coincided with the 50th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy’s visit to the region. The influence of Kennedy’s visit still loomed large, with Obama and his counterparts frequently citing the themes Kennedy espoused, including expanding economic opportunity for all people and strengthening ties between governments and the private sector.

“For me to be able to visit 50 years later and to see how much progress has been made both in the region and in the ties between the United States and Central America, I think indicates that President Kennedy’s vision was sound,” Obama said.

1
Text Only
World News
  • Hamas resumes rocket fire on Israel

    Hamas resumed rocket fire Saturday on Israel after rejecting Israel’s offer to extend a humanitarian cease-fire, the latest setback in international efforts to negotiate an end to the Gaza war.
    Despite the Hamas rejection, Israel’s Cabinet decided to extend a truce for 24 hours, until midnight (2100 GMT) Sunday.

    July 27, 2014

  • Gaza sides agree to lull; truce stalled

    Israel-Hamas fighting looked headed for escalation after U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry failed Friday to broker a weeklong truce as a first step toward a broader deal and Israel’s defense minister warned Israel might soon expand its Gaza ground operation “significantly.”

    July 26, 2014

  • U.S.: Russia firing across border into Ukraine

    Russia is launching artillery attacks from its soil on Ukrainian troops and preparing to move heavier weaponry across the border, the U.S. and Ukraine charged Friday in what appeared to be an ominous escalation of the crisis.
    Russia accused Washington of lying and charged Ukraine with firing across the border on a Russian village. It also toughened its economic measures against Ukraine by banning dairy imports.

    July 26, 2014

  • U.N. school in Gaza in cross-fire; 15 killed

    A U.N. school in Gaza crowded with hundreds of Palestinians seeking refuge from fierce fighting came under fire Thursday, killing at least 15 civilians and leaving a sad tableau of blood-spattered pillows, blankets and children’s clothing scattered in the courtyard.

    July 25, 2014

  • Jet with 116 on board crashes in Mali

    An Air Algerie jetliner carrying 116 people crashed Thursday in a rainstorm over restive Mali, and its wreckage was found near the border of neighboring Burkina Faso — the third major international aviation disaster in a week.

    July 25, 2014

  • Two more planes with Ukraine bodies arrive in Netherlands

    Two more military aircraft carrying remains of victims from the Malaysian plane disaster arrived in the Netherlands on Thursday, while Australian and Dutch diplomats joined to promote a plan for a U.N. team to secure the crash site which has been controlled by pro-Russian rebels.

    July 25, 2014

  • Bodies of Malaysian jet victims solemnly returned to Dutch soil

    Victims of the Malaysian jetliner shot down over Ukraine returned at last Wednesday to Dutch soil in 40 wooden coffins, solemnly and gently carried to 40 identical hearses, flags at half-staff flapping in the wind.

    July 24, 2014

  • 48 dead in Taiwan plane crash

    Family members of victims of a plane crash were flying to the small Taiwanese island on Thursday where the plane had unsuccessfully attempted to land in stormy weather, killing 48. There were 10 survivors, and authorities were searching for one person who might have been in a wrecked house on the ground.

    July 24, 2014

  • Monitors try to secure Ukraine plane crash site

    International monitors moved gingerly Saturday through fields reeking of the decomposing corpses that fell from a Malaysian airliner shot down over rebel-held eastern Ukraine, trying to secure the sprawling site in hopes that a credible investigation can be conducted.
    But before inspectors ever reach the scene, doubts arose about whether evidence was being compromised.

    July 20, 2014

  • Without radar, missile may not have identified jet

    If Ukrainian rebels shot down the Malaysian jetliner, killing 298 people, it may have been because they didn’t have the right systems in place to distinguish between military and civilian aircraft, experts said Saturday.
    American officials said Friday that they believe the Boeing 777 was brought down by an SA-11 missile fired from an area of eastern Ukraine controlled by pro-Russian separatists.

    July 20, 2014

Featured Ads
NDN Editor's Picks
House Ads