Saturday, April 18, 2009
Is this What WE VOTED FOR
President Obama made the first move to greet Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chavez, but it was the acerbic and anti-American leader who beat Obama to the punch on the World Wide Web.
In a clear indication Chavez sought to leverage his brief encounter with Obama at the opening ceremonies of the fifth Summit of the Americas here, Chavez's government Web site almost immediately posted a photo of the two leaders and a government-approved commentary in Spanish that read as follows:
"Before the Inaugural session of the 5th Summit of the Americas, the President of the United States approached President Chavez to greet him. They both drew their hands in a historic handshake after many years of tension under the Bush administration, when relations between Washington and Caracas had deteriorated. President Chavez expressed to Obama his desire for changes in the relations between the two countries. Eight years ago I greeted President Bush with this same hand. I'd like to be your friend."
It took the White House almost three hours to confirm the handshake. As of 9:20 p.m. EST there was no indication the White House intended to release any photos. A senior administration official declined to describe the leaders' glancing conversation, but did not dispute the Venezuelan government's account.
Late Friday, Obama told reporters he said to Chavez: "Como Esta?" (How are you?)
The two men met in the Jade Room of the Hyatt hotel in downtown Port-of-Spain. It was there Obama also shook hands with Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega.