Monday, March 21, 2011

President Obama in Rio de Janeiro

In front of the Theatro Municipal

The television is all Obama all the time. And everyone is smiling.  Growing crisis and ill-fated war in Libya aside, this post is about the people’s reaction to President Obama’s visit to Brazil and Rio de Janeiro.  The guy is a rock star.
The artist brought this as a gift to President Obama. The image shows Obama crying a tear of joy at the reality that a black man is president.
These guys in white worked up a song and dance routine to celebrate Barak Obama as an honorary Brazilian.
News reporters tripped over themselves to sing the praises of President Obama and they had no difficulty finding people on the street who were eager to express their excitement and pride in just being in the same city while the President and his family visited.
As a US American I consider myself pretty cynical and hardened against putting too much stock in a politician.  But when a black man can be president of the United States and he brings his family with two small girls to a poor community in Rio for a visit – Brazilians of African descent take note.  The pride, the excitement, the hope, the thrill of it all sent ripples of promise throughout the community.  It was very moving to watch.
Lots of security.
Luiz and I went to Cinelandia to watch President Obama’s speech from outside the recently restored (magnificently so) Theatro Municipal.  Much to our disappointment there were no jumbo-trons televising the speech to those of us standing in the square.  We did not even see his motorcade drop him off at the theater.  Oh well.  The crowd was fun and we, of course, spent the afternoon sitting  in an outdoor restaurant enjoying the warm sunshine and cold beer.  We watched the President’s speech on the televisions hung over the diners.
Watching the speach on the television.
"Obama generico" - an Obama look-a-like works the crowd.
It was a bit eerie to be on the streets of Rio with absolutely no traffic.  It was a ghost town.  We could even walk down the middle of the street. Very weird. And security forces were everywhere.

But the take away experience was one of pride. Brazilians were feeling proud and Luiz and I felt proud. It is amazing, the hope and promise President Obama inspires just by being who he is.

Making friends with the security guys.

Here is President Obama's speach in English.


Anita said...

The speech in Cinelandia was cancelled and Obama would give a speech in Theatro Municipal only for very selected guests. Did You guys go to Amarelinho ?

Jim said...

Anita - that is exactly where we went. Perfect front row seat.

Anita said...

I watched the videos, Obama is smooching Brazil (pre salt ? pre-salt ? pre-salt?). He is very charming. But why the guy that posted the videos on Youtube had first the hymn/symbol of Vasco da Gama soccer team ? This is hilarious !