VenezuelaN President Hugo Chavez proved to be a highlight during the arrivals of the Heads of State/Government to the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Port of Spain for the Fifth Summit of the Americas yesterday, as he spoke to reporters gathered outside its entrance while US President Barack Obama entered through a back entrance.
Unlike most of the other Heads who arrived at the Hyatt Regency yesterday, Chavez disembarked from his vehicle and waved to the pool of several hundred reporters, photographers and cameraman and then went inside. Chavez then stopped and spoke with reporters as they shouted, "El Presidente!"
As he did so, the large media pool surged forward, some pushing and shoving to get closer pictures and listen to his responses to questions from Latin American reporters who spoke to him in Spanish. The surge challenged the security detail assigned to protect Chavez during his visit and those stationed at the front of the Hyatt Regency, as this did not happen during the arrival of other Heads earlier in the day.
Chavez fielded the questions in Spanish and after about three minutes, he walked through the hotel's front doors, where he again stood and fielded a few questions before he walked inside surrounded by his security detail.
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Another surprise for some at the Hyatt Regency yesterday was the arrival of Bolivia's President, Evo Morales, because of his very casual attire, which comprised a light coloured short sleeved shirt and black jeans to the shouts from the Latin American press of "Evo, Evo".
There was some doubt as to whether Morales would be attending the Summit, as he was carrying out a hunger strike in Bolivia to force his country's Senate to pass a new electoral law that would give greater political power to Bolivia's indigenous majority, to which he belongs. Morales, however, ended his five-day hunger strike on Tuesday after Bolivia's Senate passed the legislation.
Morales and Chavez are both supporters of the end to the 47-year-old United States trade embargo against Cuba and both publicly announced their intentions to raise the issue during the Summit.