By FOX News Radio’s David Noto in Cartagena, Colombia
The streets of Cartagena were filled with security. Cops on every block, checking ID’s of passers by for the Summit of the Americas.
The summit itself was a lavish spectacle for the press, complete with photo ops, Cumbia singers and dancing shows. Most of the attention was on President Obama and his Colombian counterpart Juan Manuel Santos and the Free Trade Agreement which will now be implemented next month.
All policy aside, the trip for the Obama Administration was overshadowed by the prostitution scandal allegedly involving U.S. Secret Service Agents and Military personnel. The agents were relieved of duty and kicked out of Colombia. The Servicemen were “confined to quarters” in the country.
Of course the media couldn’t wait to finally question the President about the incident at his Sunday press conference with President Santos. The most ironic thing about this whole controversy was that the Secret Service Agents were staying at the Hotel Caribe, the same place where most of the media was staying. What surprised everyone was how a standard White House trip to a foreign summit turned into a gossip story for the tabloids.
Still, the President was able to stay focused and get his point across to the leaders here in Cartagena. The U.S. is looking for more business in this region. And with free trade, the Obama Administration believes it can create jobs home at and abroad. There will now be an estimated $1.1 billion dollar increase of U.S. exports. This is vital because other countries had been filling the American void in Colombia and taking advantage of business opportunities.
So while this visit was characterized as being ‘marred’ by some, it was also seen as a crucial boost to a delicate U.S. economy that has major global implications. As President Santos said, when the United States “sneezes,” the rest of the world gets “a cold.”
Listen below to some of David Noto’s reporting in Cartagena, Colombia: