"He is not going to Trinidad with a plan for the hemisphere," said Jeffrey Davidow, a former ambassador to Mexico and Obama's special adviser for the summit. "He is going to Trinidad with the intention of listening, discussing and dealing with his colleagues as partners."
Obama likely will face a chillier reception in Trinidad and Tobago than he did in London during the Group of 20 summit because of the U.S. role in the sour global economy, The Washington Post said.
During the past five years, the region has posted some of the fastest economic growth rates in the world, boosting millions of people out of poverty. Those gains are threatened by a downturn that "is the hemisphere's first economic crisis not made in Latin America," Inter-American Development Bank President Luis Alberto Moreno said to the newspaper.
Ideological differences also will be exposed on hemispheric issues such as the economy, observers told the Post.
"You have to be willing to accept that Latin Americans, who are experts in crisis after creating many of their own, will say 'We didn't create this one,'" Jose Miguel Insulza, secretary-general of the Organization of American States, said recently at a forum. "These are presidents, heads of state. ... But we're going to have some hard things to say."
The summit begins Friday.