April 18, 2009
"We shook hands like gentlemen. President Obama is an intelligent man, different from the previous one."
Hugo Chávez, President of Venezuela, talking to reporters after the opening of the Summit of the Americas in Trinidad
"I thought it was one of Chávez's books. I was going to give him one of mine."
President Obama, talking to reporters after Chávez gave him a copy of The Open Veins of Latin America: Five Centuries of the Pillage of a Continent at the Summit of the Americas
The summit was expected to focus on Cuba, but it looks like Venezuela's Chávez steals the show in the Port of Spain, making sure the cameras catch him playing nice with Obama. First the two are seen shaking hands at the summit's opening, and then Chávez arrives at one of the joint meetings with a gift for the President a book on Latin American history. The gesture, however, may not have been as gracious as it seems: the book assails the U.S. for exploiting Latin America and offers a critique of the consequences of 500 years of European and U.S. colonization of the region.