April and Kevin in Kuna Yala, the northeast coast of Panamá

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Watching history with the world

Well, we have our 44th President. Today's change of presidential power to Barack Obama was watched here in Panama and around the world.

Kevin watched it in a small restaurant in our tiny port town in Spanish with some of the men from our island community. He just sent me a text message saying that hearing the Star Spangled Banner made him cry a bit. I read the text online as the internet was too slow to do video and my friend does not have a TV...but I have no doubt that if I go looking to see it I will find parts of the speech on the news translated tonight.

Many people here in Panama have asked us about this change in power...about Obama's race, about what we think of the election, about Bush and his actions. Sadly, they have also asked (a frequent question) if we think someone will try to kill Obama. God, I hope that will not be attempted, our reputation abroad does not need another indicator of intolerance to fuel how people see us.

Overall though, the tone here in Panama seems to be very hopeful for this next administration. Panama as a whole seems very aware of the EEUU (the Spanish abbreviation for the USA) and how the state of affairs impacts Panama. The history between the two countries is long and involved, starting at the very inception of this 105 year old nation. In fact a Free Trade Agreement with Panama has been one of the items on the USA Congressional agenda recently.

Many people (Panamanians and people I have met from other countries in my recent travels) have expressed that they hope that this administration will bring a focus on peace partnership and leadership on world issues. They say that they hoped that Obama would win. Obama's more international upbringing raises hope that he will approach word issues from a more understanding viewpoint.

Many people have also told me that they find our choice of Obama inspires hope for a future America that they can respect and look to for reasonable leadership. They offer the thought that anyone would be better than Bush (some have asked how Bush got elected...and how he got re-elected), but that if the election had gone to McCain many people internationally would have lost faith that we are capable of changing our direction...or that we want to.

So, no matter how you feel about the election's outcome...I hope that you can feel happy that others in the world are hopeful. I am one of them.


Tabassum Majid said...

It was just beautiful over here. Truly a moment to remember. :)

Bill Andrews said...

"As dusk begins to fall, The Obamas were some of the few to remain in the reviewing stand near the White House, waiting for every marcher, including the Peace Corps members, above to pass by"

Caption below color photo of the Peace Corps parade marchers as they go by the Presidential review stand. Washington Post "Special Inauguration Section page A15" Wednesday, January 21, 2009.

It was also truly beautiful around the universe. The roar from the National Mall must have been heard throughout the Milky Way and beyond!

Ginna said...

This was truly a wonderful and inspiring day -- watching the crowds on the Mall and feeling the sense hope and determination from them and from our new administration. Tears and pride -- for our nation and for ourselves. Thank you for sharing your view from Panama. I am glad that you were both able to see at least part of it.

April Cropper said...

I opened a Panamanian paper today and the inside of the frount page was a full spread about Obama and the change and history behind it. It continues to be interesting to watch from here.

maicher said...