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

Shake hands with Chavez but hold smiles, analyst says

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/04/20/obama.chavez/art.chavez.gi.jpg caption="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. Ann Patton

    I admire President Obama for extending a hand to these Countries who have been our enamies for so long, instead of wanting to be the bully and fight them. Things in the world will never be better until we can all get along. When all sides do their part, this world will be a better for all to live in.

    April 20, 2009 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  2. pete

    He's shaking the hand of man that wants to arm every radical in his own country with Russian AK-47s in order to prepare for the imminent American 'invasion'. This Chavez is a danger not only to his own people, but his neighbors as well. I agree with Obama about using our diplomatic capabilities as much as possible, but the manner in which this stuff plays out is much different here at home than it does overseas. We might not think it's a big deal, but stuff like this gets used out of context all the time. Rememer the famous shot of Rumsfeld shaking Sadaam's hand? Obama just needs to be more careful.

    April 20, 2009 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  3. thought empowerment

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    April 8, 2012 02:01 am at 2:01 am |
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