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Michelle opts out of Summit

Many people were disappointed yesterday as news spread that US First Lady Michelle Obama would not be coming to Trinidad and Tobago with her husband, US President Barack Obama, for the Fifth Summit of the Americas which opens today. The next top spouse, it appears, will be the only First Gentleman coming to Trinidad - Nestor Carlos Kirchner.

A former President of Argentina, he is the husband of the current President Christina Fernandez. The couple arrived in Trinidad yesterday.

But for some, the admiration for Michelle Obama, only grew stronger.

Daphne Bartlett, president of the San Fernando Business Association, said Michelle Obama's decision to stay at home with her two daughters - Malia, ten and Sasha, seven - should be an inspiration for young mothers.

"I admire this family because of their commitment to their family. She is a family oriented person and she has said before that the first and last thing she does every day was to think about her children's well-being," she said.

Bartlett said although she was disappointed by the news, the fact the Barack Obama was visiting Trinidad and Tobago was an honour in itself.

San Fernando vendor, Judy Alexander, said:

"I have been looking forward to this since I heard the US president might be coming to Trinidad for the Summit. And when I heard his wife would be coming to San Fernando I thought I just might get a chance to see her."

Michelle Obama was expected to be part of a trip for the spouses of leaders attending the Summit to the Wild Fowl Trust in Pointe-a-Pierre. They would then board a water taxi ferry at King's Wharf San Fernando to be taken to Port-of-Spain.

The Summit Secretariat's guest list states that 24 spouses were expected to travel to Trinidad and Tobago this weekend. Paraguay President Fernando Armindo Lugo Mendez will be accompanied by his sister, Mercedes Lugo de Maidana.

However, Chilean President Michelle Bachelet, Guyana President Bharrat Jagdeo, Haitian President Rene Preval and Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez are listed as "divorced". Four of the leaders were listed as having "no spouse."