It was a gift with a sting in it: Hugo Chavez’s idea of breaking the ice at the Americas summit was to Barack Obama with a book denouncing US imperialism in South America.
The US President accepted the present with good grace, saying he had a lot to learn and very much looked forward to listening.
And his Venezuelan Counterpart duly obliged by giving him plenty to listen to.
“There’s no excuse not to end sanctions on Cuba,” said Chavez. “Everyone wants him to, I’m sure that even the American people want him to do it. There’s no excuse for him not change history – he has an enormous opportunity.”
But behind the jousting, the Fifth summit of the Americas being held in Port of Spain in Trinidad has been held in a positive atmosphere, with Obama offering a regional partnership to counter the impact of the global economic crisis on the lives of the hemisphere’s 800 million people.
Obama has also reiterated promises to open up dialogue with Cuba in return for political reform on the communist run island. Prior to the summit parts of the US trade embargo were already eased.
The summit is also looking to forge co-ordination to develop energy resources and tackle the dangers of arms and drugs trafficking.