March 21st, 2011
07:33 PM ET
SANTIAGO, Chile (CNN) – U.S. President Barack Obama admitted on Monday that relations with Latin America have often been "extremely rocky," but he fell far short of the apology that protesters had demanded for past American support of Chilean Dictator Augusto Pinochet.
During a press conference in the Chilean capital, Obama told reporters it was time to look forward, not backward.
"The history of relations between the United States and Latin America have at times been extremely rocky and have at times been difficult," he said when asked about U.S. involvement in Pinochet's 1973 military coup. "But we're not trapped by our history," he added.
"Over the last two decades we've seen extraordinary progress here in Chile and that has not been impeded by the United States but, in fact, has been fully supported by the United States," he said, adding: "I can't speak to all of the policies of the past. I can speak certainly to the policies of the present and the future."
The day before Obama's visit, hundreds of Chileans marched to demand an apology for CIA intervention in the 1970s and to denounce a new nuclear agreement between the two governments.