The U.S. Embassy in Brazil announced yesterday that President Obama’s speech in Rio de Janeiro, scheduled for this Sunday, will change venue. The President’s appearance was originally scheduled to occur in Rio’s historic plaza Cinelandia, but instead he will deliver remarks at the Municipal Theatre. The embassy did not issue a reason for the change in location, and has not yet confirmed whether the event would be open to the public.
In preparation for the President’s visit, Brazilian authorities began securing the premises by closing off numerous streets on Thursday night. Some of the areas surrounding Cinelandia had been covered with anti-U.S. banners hanging from a roadside fence. Some social organizations and union groups have declared Obama a persona non grata and called for a protest the event, criticizing the U.S.’s foreign policy and the War on Terror.
There is much anticipation around Obama’s first diplomatic visit to Latin America as president. Brazil, the largest power in the region, will be the President’s first stop. As U.S. Ambassador to Brazil Tom Shannon said last year, Brazil and the United States have begun “encountering each other in places where traditionally we have not.” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will discuss U.S.-Latin American relations in a televised speech entitled “Our Opportunity with the Americas” today at 2:00pm.