U.S. President Barack Obama on Monday recognized that the history between Latin American and the U.S. has lived through difficult times but urged the people and its leaders to try to move on.
Obama, speaking during his first visit to South and Central America, said the people should not allow themselves to be hostages of history.
“The history between the United States and the rest of Latin America has sometimes been extremely difficult. It is important to learn from history but without getting stuck in it, because there are many challenges for the future,” Obama said, speaking at a joint press conference with Chilean President Sebastian Pinera.
Obama was speaking in response to a question by Chilean lawmakers and human rights organizations asking him to recognize Washington’s responsibility in the instatement of the military rule 1973 to 1990 of Augusto Pinochet, who took power after a U.S.- supported coup.
He said that any official inquiry from Chile about the detail of past U.S. governments involvement in Chilean affairs would be addressed through official diplomatic channels.
Obama also said his administration would do everything possible to cooperate with Chile’s justice system while speaking in response to a question about the death in 1982 of Chilean President Eduardo Frei Montalva, who were alleged to be killed by secret agents of the Chilean military government.
Pinera said the government of Chile was in the process of opening an official investigation into the developments surrounding the 1973 coup by Pinochet as well as the death of Montalva.
Obama, who spoke after a meeting with Pienera during which they discussed bilateral cooperation in the fields of energy and education, praised Chile’s recent developments. “In the last few years Chile has experienced strong and good economic growth,” Obama said.