LATIN AMERICA

Obama's Clean Slate

President Obama won over reluctant world leaders in Latin America yesterday. "We cannot let ourselves be prisoners of past disagreements," Obama said at the Summit of the Americas in Trinidad. Several leftist leaders, including Cuban President Raul Castro and Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, rejected the meeting's draft proposal before the summit began. The countries protested the exclusion of Cuba, but Obama addressed the country in his speech, saying he wants to engage with them on human rights, migration, and economic issues in a "new beginning." Castro said his government was willing to talk about "everything" with the United States. The speech seemed to endear Obama to the leaders: Long-time U.S. antagonist Chavez said, "I want to be your friend," as the two shook hands. Before the meeting started, a White House spokesman called on Cuba to release political prisoners and stop taxing remittances sent from the United States.