Barack Obama Sworn in as 44th U.S. President

Hundreds of millions tuned in worldwide today as Barack Obama was sworn in as the 44th President of the United States. And we expect that a fair number of Belizean-American were among the two million who gathered on the Washington Mall in the U.S. capital. But the Belizean with the best seat in the house was Ambassador to the United States, Nestor Mendez. We spoke to him an hour after the inauguration and he discussed the policy implications of President Obama’s inaugural speech – where the U.S. President told the world that America is ready to lead again. Mendez also discussed the emotion of the day.

Barack Obama, U.S. President
“I Barack Hussein Obama do solemnly swear that I will execute the office of President of the United States faithfully and will to the best of my ability preserve protect and defend the constitution of the United States. So help me God.”

Nestor Mendez,
“I was behind where the President was being sworn in. There were some reserved seats for the diplomatic community, we were behind and to the left of President Obama. They were very very emotional. There was a true sense of history unfolding before our very eyes.”

Barack Obama,
“To all the other peoples in governments who are watching today, from the grandest capital to the small village where my father was born: know that America is a friend of each country and every man woman and child who seeks a future of peace and dignity and we are ready to lead once more. To the people of poor nations, we pledge to work aside you to make your farms flourish and let clean waters flow, to nourish starved bodies and feed hungry minds. And to those nations like ours that enjoy relative plenty, we say we can no longer afford indifference to the suffering outside our borders, nor can we consume the world’s resources without regard to the effect.”

Nestor Mendez,
“There is a very sensitive international perspective at the mentions made by Barack Obama, President Obama when he talked about America being ready to lead, America ready to engage its friends. From the diplomatic perspective, with respect, with humility and certainly America’s responsibility to take a rightful role as an economic giant who has to help other countries. He spoke about poor countries and the need to engage these countries and to help out these countries. Many countries have set expectations of the U.S. and President Obama said in his speech that the US is ready is lead again. I think if they will assume a leadership role, they must be in a strong economic position and that is one of the first things that the President will be doing. For Belize what this means is that there will be a continuity in the foreign policy of the United States towards our sub-region. We see a strong economy in the United States as being beneficial to us Jules. We know that we get many many tourists from the United States coming to Belize; they are an important part of our tourism market. If there are good economic times in the US that will eventually translate into better economic fortunes for Belize.”

Belize’s Prime Minister and current Chairman of CARICOM Dean Barrow will meet with President Obama when the President travels to Trinidad and Tobago in April for the Summit of the Americas.