If Nicolás Maduro ever thought that he might catch the attention of Barack Obama during the seventh Summit of the Americas held last week in Panama, he was dead wrong. The U.S. president neither bothered to mention the name of his Venezuelan peer nor did he stick around to hear him speak.
There was no gesture towards allaying tensions on the part of the U.S.A. Obama's executive order remains unchanged and the Venezuelan government's request for him to repeal it is not foreseen by Washington.
The U.S. president's message was clear and concise: He doesn't want to or have an interest in engaging in ideological debates or shouldering the blame for the sins or the errors of his predecessors, despite the fact that he acknowledged that they didn't do the right thing all the time.
Obama made an invitation to keep looking ahead and even though he did not mention the government of Maduro, he reaffirmed his commitment to democracy and to that established in the Inter-American Democratic Charter. He was crystal clear, indeed.
As for other South American leaders, there were two surprises. While Ecuador, Brazil, Argentina and Bolivia criticized Obama's executive order which deems Venezuela a threat to its homeland security, Colombia and Peru did not mention this matter during their respective speeches.
Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos called for addressing the education sector issue, something that his Peruvian peer Ollanta Humala also agreed with, along with what Obama said about leaving behind the ideological differences and looking ahead.
The one who showed the most belligerent attitude towards the U.S. president was Bolivia's Evo Morales, while Rafael Correa was the only one who got a direct answer from Obama, arguing that he learns a lot of history from these kind of meetings, yet he is looking forward to reaching agreements to improve the living conditions of peoples.
He also told the Ecuadorian president that he'd rather have a bad press than hear a single voice, in reference to the attacks by Correa against the media and journalists.
For his part, Raúl Castro gave Obama a very special treatment. The Cuban leader said that his American counterpart was an honest man, of humble origin and that had nothing to do with the attacks his revolution had suffered from the northern neighbor.
That he was willing to speak with him about whatever he deemed necessary and that he was also willing to give – and get – respect to – from – his counterpart.
By the time Maduro made his speech, Obama had already abandoned the premises. He didn't listen to the speech of Argentina's Cristina Fernández, either. Obama definitely didn't want to waste his time listening to repetitious hot air.
The speech of the Venezuelan president was the same mumbo-jumbo on Obama and the U.S. "empire" he had been spouting for years. Maduro stated that the U.S. embassy in Caracas was a "nest of conspirators" against his government, but on several occasions he reiterated his desire to have a conversation with the U.S. president, in addition to reproach him for not having granted that same pleasure to the ambassador he sent to Washington. At times, Maduro seemed desperate after the rudeness of the Americans.
Bolivia's Morales complained about the summit not achieving an official statement signed by all attendees. That wasn't possible due to the refusal of the U.S. and another country he didn't name, but that apparently was Canada.
The "gringos" would not have accepted to include their strife with Caracas in the referred document. The attitude of Obama and what was revealed by Morales indicates that both the executive order and the tensions between Caracas and Washington persist.
The show of Nicolás Maduro and his government is likely to continue, but each time to an increasingly reduced audience.