President Barack Obama cited in his address to the people of Mexico on Friday a deceased Mexican writer who wrote that the United States was “the protector of tyrants,” condemned “North American imperialism” and expressed sympathy with an anti-American regime.
Obama repeatedly referenced Nobel Prize-winning Mexican writer Octavio Paz (1914-1998) in his speech Friday at the Anthropology Museum in Mexico City, which he visited on the second day of a three-day tour of Mexico and Costa Rica.
“In modern times, Mexico’s blend of cultures and traditions found its expression in the murals of Rivera and the paintings of Frida, and the poetry of Sor Juana and the essays of Octavio Paz,” Obama said.
“And Paz once spoke words that capture the spirit of our gathering here today — in this place that celebrates your past, but which this morning is filled with so many young people who will shape Mexico’s future. Octavio Paz said, ‘Modernity is not outside us, it is within us. It is today and the most ancient antiquity; it is tomorrow and the beginning of the world; it is a thousand years old and yet newborn,’” Obama said.
“And that’s why I wanted this opportunity to speak with all of you today, because you live at the intersection of history that Octavio Paz was referring to,” Obama said.
Octavio Paz called the United States the “protector of tyrants” in his 1982 essay, “Latin America and Democracy.”
“The United States has been one of the principal obstacles we have encountered in our efforts to modernize ourselves,” Paz wrote in his essay. “In Latin America, the United States has been the protector of tyrants and the ally of the enemies of democracy.”
Paz also noted in his essay that he understood the anti-Americanism of the Nicaraguan government at that time.
Paz wrote in a 1987 essay for his literary magazine Vuelta that his pro-democracy viewpoints should not be confused with “the defense of North American imperialism, nor with that of Latin America’s conservative military regimes.”