South & Central America: Hostile receptions for Bush Jnr's holiday down south to capture trade bucks Print E-mail

March 10 2007 Page 15

 

A student carries a sticker depicting US President George W. Bush as Adolph Hitler, during a protest in Sao Paulo, Brazil, on Friday. US President Friday started a tour of Latin America against the backdrop of violent protests and a planned "anti-imperialist" rally headlined by his Venezuelan arch-foe Hugo Chavez. AFP

 

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 Sunday March 11 2007

Chavez leads protests


UPSTAGING BUSH: Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez addresses thousands at a rally against the ongoing visit to several Latin American countries by his U.S. counterpart George W. Bush, in Buenos Aires on Friday. (­ PHOTO: AP )

Buenos Aires: Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez called U.S. President George W Bush a ``political cadaver'' and blasted U.S. policies as ``imperialist'' as he led thousands of demonstrators in an anti-American rally.

``Gringo go home!'' Mr. Chavez shouted to raucous applause in a crowded soccer stadium in the Argetine capital of Buenes Aires. ``The U.S. President today is a true political cadaver and now he does not even smell of sulfur anymore,'' Mr. Chavez said, alluding to Mr. Bush's waning years in office.

"A coincidence"
Mr. Chavez added that he did not come to ``sabotage'' Mr. Bush's visit, saying the timing was a coincidence, even as Mr. Bush landed in neighbouring Uruguay for a 36-hour visit. ``This act was organised to say `No!' to the presence of the imperial boss in these heroic lands of our America, in the heroic lands of South America,'' he said to cheers. ``North America for the North Americans, South America for the South Americans. This is our America!'' he said, standing under a large sign reading ``Bush and Imperialism, Out!'' and ``Yes to Latin American unity!'' ­ AP 

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London -- Saturday March 10 2007

Angry crowds hunt Bush as protests mark start of Latin American tour

· Brazilians take to streets with effigies and abuse
· Presidents cement alliance that many do not want


Tom Phillips in Sao Paulo

Some arrived clutching banners telling "Mr Butcher" to go home. Others brought effigies of "The Warlord" dangling miserably from a hangman's noose. A handful dressed up as the grim reaper, while some women paraded through the streets with stickers of George Bush and Adolf Hitler placed tastefully over their nipples.

Fabio Silva had other ideas. He stuffed a sock into his mouth and left it there for three hours. "It means that the Brazilian authorities have tried to censor us - to pretend to Bushy that we don't exist," said the 21-year-old student, using the president's nickname in these parts after briefly removing his gag. "It means that we are remembering the silent victims of Iraq. And it means that the censorship will not shut me up."

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If President Bush needed a reminder of his growing unpopularity in Latin America, it was here in Sao Paulo in the shape of a 10,000-strong human wave marching noisily through the financial district.

There was none of the famed Brazilian hospitality. Even before Mr Bush arrived in Brazil on Thursday to begin a six-day tour of Latin America the protesters were out en masse. "Persona non grata" read one placard. "Get out you Nazi" said another. In case the message still hadn't hit home, there was one other taunt - this time in English: "Bush, kill yourself."

Such sentiments are not universal. The promise of economic ties is welcomed by Brazilian businessmen. About 200 energy executives heard an address by Mr Bush yesterday morning in Sao Paulo.

Others see the relationship their president, Luiz Inacio "Lula" da Silva, has fostered with the US as a counterweight to the growing influence of Hugo Chávez in South America.

President Lula hopes the visit will boost both Brazil's international profile and its chances of a seat on the UN security council. He described the new "strategic alliance" between Brazil and the US as a "historic moment" and the first step towards creating a "global biofuel market".

Sao Paulo's governor did his part to help Mr Bush feel at home. He reportedly commissioned two handmade cowboy hats for his visitor, from the same factory that made Harrison Ford's headwear for Indiana Jones. During a lunch at the Hilton the hosts treated their guest to a prawn salad and a prime Brazilian steak.

Yet anger was the popular reaction. Hours before Mr Bush touched down in Sao Paulo protests broke out across Brazil. In Rio de Janeiro the US consulate was spattered with red paint. In Porto Alegre protesters burned George Bush dolls. The centre of Sao Paulo erupted in violence.

Massive corruption scandals involving Brazilian politicians rarely elicit this kind of reaction. Even top-flight Brazilian football teams sometimes struggle to draw such crowds.

There was even a special group formed by students to track down the president, calling itself the Bush Hunt Command. The group gathered yesterday morning in Sao Paulo's Ibirapuera Park with the aim of chasing Mr Bush through the streets and forcing him to listen to their message.

The hunt began with a version of If You're Happy and You Know It with doctored lyrics. "Good morning President Bush, how's it going?" the crowd screamed, before the unmistakable chorus of "Filho da puta" - son of a whore.

Arthur Herculano, one of the hunt's leaders, busied himself daubing dozens of T-shirts with the movement's slogan "Fora Bush", meaning "Get out Bush." "It's to show that his imperialist attitudes are not welcome," he said. "We will force him to listen to us."

"Bushy" is unlikely to have heard their cries. Yesterday he toured a biofuel distribution plant, met President Lula and was due to visit a social work project for impoverished Brazilian children in the afternoon.

A massive security operation involving hundreds of police, military and intelligence agents from both countries meant the president was completely shielded from any kind of protest.

That , however, did not stop people trying. In Ibirapuera Park the hunt's leaders herded protesters into a fleet of coaches to begin their pursuit. The first stop was the Hilton, where Mr Bush was staying in the £3,200-a-night presidential suite.

"Wherever he goes today we will show him our hostility," one leader bellowed through a crackly PA system. "Let's show him what we think so that he will never, ever dare to set foot in our country again."

On the eve of his trip President Bush told CNN's Spanish language channel he hoped to show South Americans the US "cared" about the region. Based on this showing, they will take a lot more convincing.

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Saturday March 10 2007

'Gringo go home!' says Chavez to Bush

Buenos Aires, Reuters:


"The little imperial gentleman from the north must be across the river by now. Let's send him a big shout: Gringo go home," Chavez told thousands of people at a soccer stadium in Buenos Aires, across the River Plate from the Uruguayan capital, Montevideo.
 
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez led a stadium full of Argentine leftists in screaming ''Gringo go home'' as US President George W Bush arrived in nearby Uruguay today on a tour of Latin America.

While Bush is visiting five countries in the region to counter anti-US sentiment, Chavez launched a rival tour to challenge and taunt his ideological rival.

''The little imperial gentleman from the north must be across the river by now. Let's send him a big shout: Gringo go home,'' Chavez told thousands of people at a soccer stadium in Buenos Aires, across the River Plate from the Uruguayan capital, Montevideo.

''We don't even need to make an effort to sabotage his tour. He's a political cadaver. He exhales the smell of the political dead, and he will soon be cosmic dust that will disappear from the stage,'' he told the crowd of leftist activists.

Bush's fiercest critic in Latin America, Chavez is using Venezuela oil revenues to help friendly leftist governments and spread his socialist vision. Dressed in a bright red jacket, Chavez was flanked at the Friday night rally by human rights leaders the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo, who fought Argentina's 1970s dictatorship, wearing their trademark white scarves.

Bush started his tour in Brazil, where he signed a biofuel agreement with moderate leftist President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who Washington hopes will act as a counterweight to Chavez's influence in Latin America.

But Bush was also met by street protests in Brazil and later in Uruguay, where activists smashed windows at two McDonald's restaurants.

US influence in Latin America has waned in recent years as several leftist leaders won power in presidential elections and public opposition to the war in Iraq surged.

Chavez said Latin America was struggling to free itself from US domination and that the region has just recently found its own model for development.

''Look at the moment he chooses to visit, just when there's a new popular uprising,'' Chavez said. He also mocked Bush's new announcements of aid to combat poverty in the region as too little, too late.

Chavez earlier met with Argentine President Nestor Kirchner, a fellow leftist, and signed energy and agriculture cooperation agreements.

He continues his two-country tour today in Bolivia, where he has pledged millions of dollars in aid after extensive flooding and where President Evo Morales is one of his closest ideological allies.

Bush will continue to Colombia, Guatemala and Mexico after leaving Uruguay, where he hopes to strengthen trade ties.

Kirchner steers clear of anti-Bush rhetoric but also questions US-backed market policies and has allowed Chavez to lead large anti-Bush rallies in Argentina twice before.