There is an elite within the establishment that are so influential, they often seem to call the shots. In Central American countries, like El Salvador, this oligarchy is more blatant than in the US and has been called "the 14 Families."
Blaze Bonpane, a former Jesuit priest, recounts an observation from his experience in Central America:
I’ve seen presidents who were prisoners in Guatemala, that were elected and then immediately told by the military, “You will do what we say, or you’re out of here.”
It was in this context that the question is raised with Obama, as recounted by Bonpane.
When Obama went to the meeting with the thirty-two countries, [in] Trinidad, Tobago, the parting shot from the ALBA nations was, quote, “Are you a prisoner?”
I think [the question] came directly from Hugo Chavez—“Are you a prisoner?”
If not a prisoner of the establishment elite, perhaps he's a prisoner of an economic system that is careening out of control, precariously close to collapse.