President Porfirio "Pepe" Lobo Sosa of Honduras, in New Orleans this week for meetings featuring Honduran officials and New Orleans city officials, stopped by Saints' headquarters on Monday to meet New Orleans Saints Owners Tom Benson, his wife Gayle Benson, and Rita Benson LeBlanc.
"It is an honor to welcome you and the visiting officials to our city and state," said Mr. Benson upon the arrival of President Sosa.
President Sosa and his delegation of officials were given an extensive tour of the Saints' Metairie practice facility by Mr. Benson and Ms. LeBlanc. Throughout the tour the President's entourage met Head Coach Sean Payton, Executive Vice President/General Manager Mickey Loomis, members of the team's coaching and scouting staff and countless players, including Super Bowl MVP quarterback Drew Brees, wide receiver Lance Moore, tight end Jeremy Shockey, tackles Jon Stinchcomb and Zach Strief and guard Carl Nicks, among others. The tour culminated in a stop in Mr. Benson's office, where the Lombardi and Halas Trophies were on display for the visiting president to see.
Sosa's visit to New Orleans is part of a tour that has him studying issues such as education, security, healthcare, tourism and infrastructure. Mayra Pineda, who is serving as a liaison between the Honduran government and the city of New Orleans, said President Sosa, is "coming to learn many things from New Orleans," Pineda said. "[Lobo wants] to emulate how New Orleans became a tourist destination and how New Orleans recently developed a film industry."
According to The Hullaboo, Tulane University's official school newspaper, more than 120,000 Hondurans live in the New Orleans area, making the city the fourth-most populous Honduran community in the world.
The politically conservative Lobo, whose term began Jan. 27, was elected in November. On Saturday, President Sosa was part of a forum with university presidents in the area, including such schools as Tulane, Xavier, Loyola, the University of New Orleans and Dillard. "Education is a top priority for President Lobo," said Pineda.
It is estimated each year that hundreds of Honduran students each year matriculate to New Orleans to further their educational pursuits.
Rocio Valdiviezo, a student at UNO, said that many Hondurans come to the United States for the educational opportunities the country offers.
"For Latin Americans, a college degree from the United States is a huge advantage and opens many more opportunities," UNO student Rocio Valdiviezo told The Hullabaloo. "Knowing English really sets you apart from the competition.