Shortly after posting my last entry, I headed into the Media Management offices here in the media centre. My intention was to inquire as to the possibility of interviewing any member of the Canadian delegation. Lo and behold, the High Commissioner of Canada was there in the office - and she took my request personally.
“Would you like to interview Mr. Harper?” she asked.
We watched, on a small television screen, scenes being broadcast from the Piarco airport. Funny enough, Harper had just descended the steps of his plane and was getting into his private car.
The High Commissioner answered her phone: “Hi, are you watching? Yep. The Harper has landed.”
Afterwards I headed outside to the front doors of the Hyatt hotel, where sure enough the mid-size media gathering had become a plethora of cameras and cell phones and videographers and security staff. I managed to find something of a spot (though it wasn’t much), and my first “sighting” of the afternoon was the shadowy figure of Mr. Harper through the heavily-tinted glass of his car window. There was a maple leaf flag hanging on the hood, though…
When Hugo Chavez arrived, the media went ballistic and everyone charged for the front door. I managed to get something of a shot of his face, amidst all the pushing and shoving and cameras in my face, but probably the best part was that I was now MUCH closer to the “red carpet.”
I managed to see Evo Morales as well as a few other Latin American heads of state, and grab a few photos. It was a lot of waiting and sweating in the heat, though, and I began to wonder what exactly was the point of all these media representatives being here. I suppose most came for the odd chance that they’d see - or interview - someone of relevance. And truth be told, I came for the experience, so I suppose anything that comes out of this is a bonus.
Shortly after 7 I got a call on my cell phone.
“Hi Mr. Bromberg, I’m calling from the Prime Minister’s office regarding your request to interview Mr. Harper.”
“Unfortunately we will not be able to accomodate your request, due to the nature of the schedule this weekend.”
I let them know that I’d be happy to speak with anyone from the delegation, but was told that any contact would be unlikely. (I suppose this group isn’t necessary known for its willingness to give interviews.)
Harper did tell Fox News today that the Canadian government was “hoping to see a thaw” in U.S.-Cuba relations. “Obviously, President Obama has taken some steps and we’re hoping that some of the words we are hearing from the Cuban regime are meaningful.”
Certainly, with the U.S. adminstration’s recent announcement of its reconsidered approach to Cuba and the relaxation of travel regulations, the U.S.-Cuba relationship will be a hot topic over the weekend.
Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega said the Americas, and particularly the North, will have to seriously embrace a new approach to development - economically, environmentally - to ensure proper equality between North and South. He brought up issues of the past, including the United States’ political interference in his country under the Reagan adminstration.
“I’m grateful that President Ortega did not blame me for things that happened when I was 3 years old,” said President Obama, taking to the podium after Ortega.
Joking aside, Obama began by stating that progress in the Americas must start with the present and look to the future, reflecting that it’s time to learn from the past but not to dwell on it. He said that he didn’t want future talks to be “undermined by stale debates.”
(photo courtesy of Mariamma Kamban)
I watched the leaders’ speeches here in the media centre, and chatted with some other journalists from Belize. I also checked out the waterfront area behind the hotel here in Port-of-Spain, and snapped a few nice shots of the hotel and of the television journalists doing their evening broadcasts by sunset. The large cruise ships, docked in the harbour and serving as accomodation for most media (not me!), loomed in the background.
I did get a call late tonight, though, inviting me to be part of a media pool for the “informal spouses’ event” tomorrow morning at a wildlife sanctuary. Could be the start of something interesting.