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Ricardo Castillo
Ricardo Castillo A Day With Candidate Barack Ricardo Castillo remembers meeting Barack Obama in 2008
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Going back down memory lane this Easter week reminded me very much of a summer day in 2008 when Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton had already competed in a seemingly endless series of debates. One noteworthy thing about that Democratic Party race was that for some weird reason I still don’t understand, Sin City Las Vegas was selected as the battle field.

To me, that was prime time television as I had a front seat to Barack and Hillary – we then called them by first name – until the crucial day Obama won the nomination. I personally attended on that summer day the conceding press conference at the Del Sol High School basketball gym only to watch a disgruntled and PO’d Hillary admit she’d lost her bid for the nomination.

A very happy Barack held a rally at baseball park Cashman Field to officially launch his campaign. After the rally, a group of Hispanic reporters were invited to hold a roundtable press conference under the Cashman Field cavernous seating stands.

Previous to the press conference we reporters met to more or less line up our questions since, as we were of different Latin American nationalities, our interests and questions were different. One thing that struck us all as we talked was Barack’s lack of mention of Latin America during his speeches.

Of course, a joker that I am, I couldn’t help to mention his relation with Mrs. Clinton as we had gone through the debates.

“How do you feel after…how many were there…21 debates? It was 21, but who’s counting?” I questioned as the opening line of the conference.

“It was 22 debates, and I was counting” retorted the by then Democratic candidate for president.

But indeed, the suspicion the nine reporters that participated in that face to face on a round table conference with Obama came true. The candidate didn’t know very much about Latin America except for what he had read in history books.

But indeed, the suspicion the nine reporters that participated in that face to face on a round table conference with Obama came true. The candidate didn’t know very much about Latin America except for what he had read in history books.

No doubt, we were disappointed and the afterwards comment about the Democratic candidate was that if he won, he would be just another gringo president who didn’t know or give a hoot about our motherland.

The reason why I bring this back to memory is because that day we reporters were right in our appraisal of Obama. And what our nations were to expect was further indifference from a US government whose historical record was one of interfering with the internal affairs of all Latin American nations.

I went back down memory lane just to make a well informed appraisal of what Barack was then and what he is now.

I must say, his visit to Cuba not just elated me but left me astounded as to what a man can learn as president of the United States of America.

Perhaps on that day at Cashman Field he knew nothing, but now that he is still in Argentina Barack has broken down all the barriers that stood between the US and Latin America.

Thawing the relation with Cuba – regardless of obvious differences and difficulties – was even more historical than his visit to Havana. By doing that, Barack is eight years later answering the Latin America-related questions he couldn’t answer on that summer day in 2008.

And by shoving aside all the Cold War memories – not to mention the missile crisis of 1963 – President Obama has cleared the path to bring all of the continent’s nations, if not together, at least closer to each other in brotherly peace.


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