Obama fever gripped the Mexican capital on Wednesday (April 15) as
the country prepared for a high profile visit by the U.S. President the
A wax museum in Mexico City, which unveiled Obama's wax figure a couple
of weeks ago, witnessed a flurry of activity as visitors flocked to the museum
to have their photograph taken with the U.S. president.
Ironically, the wax work of Obama was presented in the museum's central
gallery alongside Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and Evo Morales of Bolivia,
who are both harsh critics of the U.S.
A wax work of Mexican President Felipe Calderon was placed at a
distance from those of Obama, Chavez and Morales but seemed to attract far
"For most this is the only opportunity they will have to
photograph themselves next to President Obama or with any of the characters
exhibited here. Fortunately President Obama has had a lot of acceptance. We
exposed the wax work only a couple of weeks ago here at the museum and it has
been well received by the public who like taking a good souvenir of him,"
said the museum's director, Mauricio Rabner.
Outside the National Museum of Anthropology in the capital, there was a
visible police presence on the city's streets, especially around the buildings
Obama is scheduled to visit when he arrives on Thursday (April 16). Federal
and municipal police could also be seen at several major junctions around the
Security was particularly tight around the hotel where Obama is
expected to stay.
Victor Gallo, the chef at the hotel's restaurant, said it was
understandable why so many security measures were being put in place ahead of
"It's a hotel with 42 floors which is at risk, the suite is
located on those floors, the presidential suite and obviously it's a risk for
him, for such an important person for us all. These are very strong security
measures but at the same time, they are very necessary," he said.
Battered by unprecedented criminal violence and an economy sharply
contracting, many analysts see Obama's visit as offering some relief for
The Mexican economy, heavily dependent on exports to the United States,
is in recession and oil reserves are drying up.
Mexico City resident Karina Cruz played down the significance of
Obama's visit, saying he was not the first U.S. president to visit Mexico.
"We are simply told it's good for both sides, but we can't see any
benefit after several visits from a U.S. leader, not in the economy or in
migration issues which worry us all," said Cruz.
Obama, in his first visit to Latin America, is expected to offer strong
backing to Calderon, whose National Action Party has swung Mexico closer to
the United States after it ended 71 years of one-party rule in 2000.
The Obama administration is tightening the U.S.-Mexico border to
prevent trafficking of U.S. guns to Mexican cartels and is hoping to send
Black Hawk helicopters to help Calderon defeat well-armed cartels that killed
6,300 people last year in turf wars.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton soothed Mexico when she acknowledged
last month that the violence was partly the fault of Americans and their
"insatiable demand" for drugs.
With increased U.S. backing, Mexicans are more optimistic that Calderon
can defeat drug lords who have defied a military campaign against them since
Obama will stop in Mexico on Thursday before traveling to Trinidad and
Tobago for the Fifth Summit of the Americas on Friday (April 17). Many see
Obama's visit as a signal of support for President Felipe Calderon and his
efforts to confront violent drug trafficking gangs.
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