By VOA News
19 April 2009
Cuba has been a dominant theme at the Summit of the Americas.
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and other leaders are pressing Mr. Obama to lift the U.S. trade embargo against Cuba.
Mr. Obama says he wants to see a change in U.S.-Cuban relations, but also democratic change on the communist-led island. Cuba is excluded from the summit.
This past week, President Obama lifted restrictions on travel and money transfers by Cuban-Americans to the island.
The other main topics among the leaders at the hemispheric meeting in Trinidad and Tobago have been how to revive their economies, maintain trade and keep the global financial crisis from causing more poverty.
Mr. Obama announced Saturday the formation of a $100-million program to help small entrepreneurs in the Western Hemisphere.
The White House says the new fund would loosen credit from banks and get money moving to small businesses.
U.S. officials say the ultimate goal is to raise 250-million dollars for the program.
Similar microfinance loan programs have proved successful in other developing regions.
Several Latin American leaders have blamed the United States for the financial meltdown.
However, the French news agency reports that President Obama's worldwide popularity was in evidence Saturday at the summit with Latin American leaders jostling to have a photograph taken with him.
The agency says the U.S. president agreed to most of the requests, including those of Panama's tourism minister and actor Ruben Blades.