Monday, June 7, 2010

Lima/Organization of American States June 7

We arrived in Lima last night after a rough flight from DC -- there were tornado warnings around Andrews Airforce Base, and everyone in the "special loading area" was looking nervously at the huge thunderheads outside.

As it was, we got off after only about an hour delay. The alarming bits of the flight came later -- it was pretty choppy all the way, and about five hours in we hit some real turbulence: quick climbs, sudden drops, and a heart-stopping lurch or two to the left and right. People were definitely clutching the arms of their seats, but on the whole I don't think ahir terror hits very hard on Clinton's plane. There's an assumption (maybe ill-advised) that the crew is on top of its game, and the plane must be loaded with special radar etc...right?

Anyway we got in around midnight, and drove straight to the hotel. Lima is huge...I didn't really have any impression of it before, but it is massive. The hotel looks out over a series of cliffs and the Pacific, but the city itself stretches back in a hodgepodge of highways and featureless blocks of flats. This morning Clinton went to the Presidential Palace to meet President Garcia. We were parked in the "Gold Room", seen in the picture above. Its wonderfully ornate, and apparently sits atop ancient Inca ruins.

Clinton and Garcia came out briefly after their meeting, but didn't take any questions, and we were whisked all the way across town to the OAS General Assembly meeting, which is in a brutalist concrete museum.

Clinton is due to speak in a bit -- but we aren't expecting much news. It doesn't sound as though they are going to really grapple with the main issue dividing the United States and Latin America at the moment -- the readmission of Honduras after its coup last year --