Sunday, September 25, 2016

Travel Report: LAPT9 Uruguay, Day 2 -- Summit of the Americas

Was reading a little today and happened across a reference to Lyndon B. Johnson having come right here to Punta del Este, Uruguay back in 1967 for a summit meeting with around 20 different Latin American heads of state.

Other U.S. presidents have come to Uruguay, although the others all primarily stayed in Montevideo for their visits. Franklin D. Roosevelt came to meet with the Uruguayan president in 1936; Dwight D. Eisenhower did the same in 1960 near the end of his tenure. Both of the Bushes came to Montevideo, too, although after a little searching around it looks like George H.W. did stop by Punta del Este briefly as well (in late 1990). In fact, Reinaldo is telling me George H.W. Bush either once had a home in Punta del Este or maybe still does.

LBJ’s visit here in April 1967 was by far the most significant one by a U.S. president. It lasted for three days and was called the “Summit of the Americas,” and from it resulted a detailed declaration signed by all of the presidents who attended detailing intentions regarding economic integration, industrial development, multinational action for infrastructure projects, measures to improve international trade, improvements to education and “modernization” of all nations, and reduction of military expenditures.

Here’s an interesting article from 1994 from the Los Angeles Times looking back on that ’67 summit and contrasting it with an upcoming one in Miami involving President Bill Clinton and other Latin American heads of state. The point is made how back in the late 1960s some of those at the Punta del Este summit were dictators (unlike in ’94). And, of course, the Cold War was still raging, with Castro and communist Cuba representing a constant threat to the rest of Latin America (from the perspective of the U.S.).

At the summit Johnson was very insistent that absolutely everything said by anyone be taken down and transcripts made available to all -- an indicator of the historic nature of meeting. Sounds like LBJ got along with pretty much everyone, save the president of Ecuador who was a little too conspicuous with his criticism of the U.S. for the Texan’s tastes.

I might be tempted to draw some sort of an analogy between an international summit and a Latin American Poker Tour Main Event such as the one here in Punta del Este I’m helping cover. After all, players from 16 different countries are making up the 438-entry field, and they’re also doing a lot of “negotiating” you could say, as they try to get what they want from each other.

Of course, no one here can win unless everyone else loses, so it’s not like these negotiations are aimed at producing some sort of harmony going forward. And there’s not a single U.S. player in the field, so that also might make the comparison seem less persuasive.

All but a handful of the players are from the “Americas,” though. More than half of entries (237) were made by Argentinians, and in fact there are still 25 players from Argentina left among the 32 who made it to tomorrow’s Day 3, with one of them -- two-time champion Mario Lopez -- enjoying the overnight chip lead.

We’ll see how things go for him and everyone else tomorrow as Day 3 of this poker summit continues. Go to the PokerStars blog where we’re not necessarily taking down everything said and done by everyone, but enough of it to create an adequate historical record for future researchers.

Photo: “Meeting of American Chiefs of State,” LBJ Library photo archive (public domain).

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