A few minutes ago, Jason Beaubien, NPR's Mexico City correspondent, called from Zocalo, the "Plaza de la Constitucion," one of the biggest public squares in the world.
Jason Beaubien, in Mexico City's Zocalo, with 60,000 friends
As Mexico's national team tried to topple the Republic of South Africa's squad, in front of a loud, vuvuzela-blowing crowd, some 60,000 people gathered in the Zocalo, to watch the game.
Yesterday, Tracy Wilkinson, reporting for the Los Angeles Times from Mexico City, set the scene:
A huge television screen will be set up in the massive downtown Zocalo, or central plaza. Never mind that the Zocalo is currently taken over by large groups of rather angry striking teachers and electrical workers. The city government is assuring World Cup officials that the plaza will be cleared of strikers and other unwanted denizens in time for kickoff so that Mexico can join in an internationally televised FIFA Fan Fest.
Wilkinson said that "Mexico is preparing, essentially, to shut down this week when its (sometimes) cherished El Tri national soccer team opens the 2010 World Cup in the inaugural match."
Businesses and government offices are being advised to go ahead and let their employees watch the game at work. Otherwise, they're being told, don't expect the workers to show up at all.
Same with schools. To avoid widespread absenteeism, Education Secretary Alonso Lujambio said, TV sets will be placed in classrooms and students and teachers will be allowed to watch. "Of course our normal education routine will continue," he said.