April 20th, 2009
11:31 AM ET
6 years ago

Shake hands with Chavez but hold smiles, analyst says

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez presents a book to President Obama at the Summit of the Americas.
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez presents a book to President Obama at the Summit of the Americas.

(CNN) – President Obama's friendly interactions with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has set off a wave of controversy, but analysts said the leaders' next steps will show if relations have truly improved or if Obama was overstepping boundaries.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez presents a book to President Obama at the Summit of the Americas.

Chavez and Obama were both at the Summit of the Americas, which ended Sunday in Trinidad and Tobago.

On the first day, Obama reached out his hand to Chavez and was seen smiling and patting the Venezuelan leader on the shoulder as the two shook hands.

"With this same hand I greeted Bush eight years ago, I want to be your friend," Chavez said, his office reported.

On the second day, as cameras jockeyed for position, Chavez got up and gave Obama a book, "The Open Veins of Latin America," which documents centuries of American abuse in the region. After the exchange, the book skyrocketed to become one of Amazon's best-sellers.

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Filed under: Hugo Chavez • President Obama
soundoff (203 Responses)
  1. ekemini ebiwok

    President Obama's friendly gesture to President Chavez is a great sign that this administration is ready to make amends for past oppressive regimes of the USA.This step is in the right direction.America needs more friends and allies to lead not enemies.

    April 20, 2009 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  2. Alex (Aliso Viejo)

    The handshake maybe controversial but it remains a handshake. BUT, if we are to analyze it, Pres Obama reaching out signifies that USA is willing to listen under his administration. Did it change our stance about issues?? Absolutely not. Did it enhance our world reputation?? Definitely yes. What they want to do about this golden leaf is upto Mr. Chavez and Mr Castro. As we say, the ball is in their court.

    April 20, 2009 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  3. Beth

    I think it's refreshing. Just because he smiled and shook hands with the man does NOT mean we're BFF's with them. Give me a break, people. But, isn't it nice to see that countries around the world who have HATED the USA for so long are now willing to talk, and possibly work together?

    I mean really...wouldn't it really be awful if countries actually got along??

    I'm SO proud I voted for this man. :-)

    April 20, 2009 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  4. Mississippi Mike

    Chavez hates America and wants to see us suffer. He's made that clear for as long as he's been in office. If Obama thinks he can shake hands and make friends with our sworn enemies he is a fool.

    April 20, 2009 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  5. bill

    lets keep the bush policy of war, being hated all over the world, start some more illegal wars that are spelled O.I.L. Who in their right mind would try to have peace with all that money to make ammo going to waste.

    April 20, 2009 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  6. yolanda

    Wow amazing. To all those people who are upset with a hand shake, what should he have done? Spit in Chavez,s face, throw the book on the floor and stomp on it? America would have really look good in the eyes of the world. Obama did the right thing, he graciously took the book, shook hands and moved on. I still need an answer, nay sayer, what should a President that represent a CIVILIZED country do? Stomp off in a huff or act like a grownup who was taught manners.

    April 20, 2009 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  7. donna

    Yawn...Obama is scrutinized for even waking up in the morning so I'm sure he could care less about what is being said...I guess the childish right wingers would have been happier if he would have thrown the book across the room, folded his arms and then turned his back to Chavez....

    No wonder the U.S. has a bad reputation across the globe...childish minds expect childish acts!!!

    April 20, 2009 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  8. katiec

    The American people support the diplomacy and policies of our President. He shook hands and smiled at 33 presidents, but the
    republicans and media choose to insert their negativity, unwanted
    opinions and questionable experts into everything he does.
    We are disgusted with the bias and it must stop.

    April 20, 2009 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  9. Grandma

    shaking hands is called being an adult, Fighting being a child like GOP.

    April 20, 2009 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  10. Veronica

    President Obama is showing class and civility.What did you expect ? bombs???insults???? not with Obama!

    April 20, 2009 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  11. the dude

    as if the event wasn't "staged" enough already....

    April 20, 2009 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  12. A New Day

    Heck if Germany is now one of our closest Allies, Why Not Venezuala? Great Job Mr. President! you have my full support :)

    April 20, 2009 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  13. dominican mama 4 Obama

    I'll say it again: Chavez was NOT anti-America, he was, and rightly so, anti-BUSH. The arrogance, lack of diplomacy, and schoolyard bully tactics of the Bush/Cheney regime did us a world of harm.

    For those of you who continue to bash, and under estimate President Obama: how many times does this man have to prove himself to be a brilliant chess player to you? By the time you figure out where to move your pawn, he's got you in checkmate postition. Doubt me? Then ask McCain, Palin, et al.

    The Party Of No is looking more ridculous, petty, an anti-American by the moment. You have offered this country NO solutions. You pander to the basest human tendencies; and you're alienating anyone with a capacity for coherent thought with your relentless and unsupported bashing of our President.

    Please continue to talk yourselves into extinction!

    April 20, 2009 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  14. Grandma

    Cnn stop covering what GOP said who cares we want to know what Obama said. He is our president and you need to cover him more as we love to see him. CNN very soon becom FOX

    April 20, 2009 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  15. DT

    Obama is doin the right thing...guess if you Republican we have to be at war with everyone else...

    April 20, 2009 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  16. Tulsa

    lol... the gop.
    What a bunch of children. Overgorwn, mean spirited, narrow minded, hypocritical, cry babies.
    Get over it you dopes. Obama won the presidency with a pledge to do EXACTLY what he is doing. He is an adult who is keeping his promises.
    Too bad ya'll can't grow up.

    April 20, 2009 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  17. Anne E.

    You know what would be nice? I mean, really, REALLY nice?
    If people stopped analyzing this and dissecting it to death.
    It was just a handshake, an introduction - not a marriage proposal or a formal merging or annexation of the US and Venezuela!
    Venezuela is not our sworn enemy - or am I the only one who didn't get that memo?
    How can we as a country expect to restore our global standing, how can we hope to regain the respect we so horribly lost without reaching out and showing maturity, not swagger?

    April 20, 2009 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  18. Lori

    What do the Republicans expect the President to do to him? Throw a shoe at him? They're disgustingly ignorant for so-called 'Christians'.

    April 20, 2009 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  19. Chi Town

    vet in texas April 20th, 2009 12:34 pm ET
    "at least he didn't walk hand in hand and kiss him like Bush did the Saudi King (who by the way he's known personally as a friend of the family for years)….."

    Good point... Obama just dropped to his knees in a show of submission.

    April 20, 2009 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  20. Ariana

    SHAME on Obama for being amicable with other world leaders, right Republicans?!?

    April 20, 2009 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  21. Anonymous

    The repugs are truly idiots ,jealous, insecure, stupid, ignorant, impolite, raised in a barn, no manners and just ugly!!!!!!!!! Once again WE WON!!!! This is what WE THE PEOPLE want from our President. He is a man first and a gracious, thoughtful, human President.

    Stop the madness....... you republicans conservatives or whatever you are have no respect for anything or anyone how dare you speak of our leader in these tones He is our President and you should respect him.... what message are you sending IDIOTS! SHUT UP!! YOU LOST GET OVER IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    April 20, 2009 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  22. Stream Of Consciousness

    Hey Fair is Fair....perhaps you should look up the definition of Dictator. Chavez WAS Democratically elected. Say what you will about the man but get the facts straight.

    April 20, 2009 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  23. Sumar

    President Obama will bring back the respect our Country deserves......and undo the hate that Bush/Chaney and all the republicans have brought to our country and all of us Americans....we will no longer hang our head in shame for what the pass administration has done to our country

    April 20, 2009 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  24. Patrick M

    There is nothing wrong for President Obama to shake hand with Shavez. Those who found it wrong are simply nostalgic of Bush's era. They just don't get it. They must learn how to be humble.

    April 20, 2009 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  25. Mel of Alexandria

    Just as "the enemy of my enemy is not necessarily my friend",(we must have learned that by now), so also, "the enemy of my predecessor is not necessarily my enemy". President Obama is quite capable of assessing each situation for himself, and does not need to be carrying the baggage and burden of his predecessor's poor diplomatic skills.

    April 20, 2009 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
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