Obama zings Latin America over economic visions

PANAMA CITY (AFP) - US President Barack Obama zinged Latin American leaders who have not moved beyond the economic dogma that defined the Cold War era, in remarks to business leaders on Friday.

Speaking to captains of industry from across the Americas, Obama pressed for pragmatic solutions to the long-running dialectic over state versus business-led economic development.

"It used to be viewed as either you had a government statist economic model or you have a complete free market," he said.

"By virtue of wisdom, and some things that didn't work, some things that did, everyone from around the region in the hemisphere I think has a very practical solution, or a practical orientation.

"Maybe not everybody, but almost everybody," he added with a grin that drew laughs from the audience.

While much of Latin America has ditched Communist or populist economic policies, the United States still comes into conflict with countries like Bolivia, Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela along ideological fault lines that have existed for decades.