Merida residents and visitors are being affected in multiple ways by the summit meeting starting Thursday Nov. 5 between the presidents of Mexico and Cuba, as the city is transformed into a fortress, streets are closed, bus routes altered, barricades erected and more than 1,000 soldiers and security details conduct patrols.
The official events involving the presidents of Cuba, Raul Castro, and Mexico, Enrique Peña Nieto, start Thursday night, but Merida already shows signs of the the presence of elements of the Presidential Security, Army, and Federal Police, as well as Cuban agents with the official delegations.
The Plaza Grande de Merida, the city’s central park, is closed, and the adjacent Palace of Government is under heavy guard that permits no unauthorized access. Several of the official events of the presidential summit will take place at the government palace.
The Caribbean leader will arrive in Merida Thursday night, with the protocol to be held in the hangar of Military Air Base No. 8 belonging to the Mexican Air Force.
Top security officials have been working to secure the governmental palace, where on Friday in the central courtyard Peña Nieto will officially welcome Castro. The work between the two presidents will take place in the Hall of History.
Friday afternoon Peña Nieto will host a meal at La Quinta Montes Molina on Paseo de Montejo.
Motorists and pedestrians in these areas, as well as the hotel zone in north Merida, are advised to expect the presence of several hundred security officers, who will be redirecting traffic.
Besides the two presidents, the official delegations will also include Mexico’s Secretary of Foreign Affairs, Claudia Ruiz Massieu and the country’s Tourism Minister Federico De la Madrid.
Castro will be accompanied by Foreign Minister Bruno Eduardo Rodriguez Parrilla and Cuban businessmen.
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