As Mexico prepares for the Friday arrival of Pope Francis, not everyone is looking forward to the visit.
How much the trip is costing — and whether that money would be better spent combating poverty, disease, unemployment and other problems the Pope himself has championed — has become a vibrant debate in a country where more than 80% of the population is Catholic.
One newspaper, Milenio, estimated that state and municipal governments will have spent nearly $10 million by the end of the six-day visit.
There is an economic upside too, of course, as tourists flock to the stops along the pontiff's path and spend millions of dollars.
And the visit won't be entirely funded by the government, as businessman Carlos Slim, the world’s second-richest man, and several companies have donated to the cause, according to the magazine Proceso.
Still, the hashtag #YoNoQuieroQueVengaElPapa (“I don't want the Pope to come”) has been showing up on Mexican Twitter accounts.
“Why do we want the pope here? one tweet asked. "The people can't eat hope.”
Other critics of the trip wanted to know: Why won’t Pope Francis be meeting with victims of sexual abuse by clergy? Will the visit draw much-needed attention to the country's problems, or is it just a diversion from poverty and other problems?
“For a few days, people will be happy about the Pope, but then it's back to reality,” said Armando Rios Lopez, a 52-year-old shop owner.
That kind of thinking spanned people of all generations.
“I would prefer that all of that money be spent on health, on education, in this country that's dying of hunger,” said Claudia Sanroman, a 22-year-old student. “This visit from the Pope won't help us with anything. The visit from the Pope only helps the politicians who are going to be photographed with him.”
Another Twitter user suggested another use for the money spent on the pontiff's visit: supporting a visit to Mexico by the singer Bjork.
Other opponents just think the visit will be a hassle. A video on the website Chilango.com detailed the inconveniences Mexico City residents would be forced to endure: metro stations shut down; streets blocked; markets, gas stations and even bike rental stands all closed.
Tillman is a special correspondent. Special correspondent Cecilia Sanchez contributed to this report.
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