Approximately a thousand Brazilian students, a group of Palestinian women, and representatives of mass movements, led by Brazil’s Coordination of Social Movements (CMS) and the National Students’ Union (UNE), staged demonstrations today to protest the visit by US president George W. Bush to Brazil.
The high point of the protests in Brazil’s capital Brasília in opposition to the Bush visit was the burning of his effigy and of a US flag in front of the US Embassy. Accompanied by rallying cries such as "Bush, Fascist. You’re a terrorist" and "Assassin, assassin," the group torched the effigy.
According to UNE president, Gustavo Peta, there is a strong feeling of condemnation in Brazil, as there is in Argentina and other countries, for US foreign policy, the growing US military presence in Latin America, and the War in Iraq. According to Petta, demonstrations were also held in ten other Brazilian capitals and should continue throughout the weekend in Brasília.
Petta remarked that "this was also a show of solidarity with the Latin American peoples and social movements. With the peoples of Cuba and Venezuela. They are countries that are currently trying to discover alternative paths to the ones imposed by the United States of America," he said.
Bush will arrive in Brasília Saturday, November 5. The press office of the US embassy made no comment on the protests. The US President is traveling to Brazil after a trip to Argentina, where he is participating in the 4th Summit of the Americas.
The encounter is gathering heads of State from 34 countries on the American continent to discuss ways to deal with poverty and strengthen democratic governability.
Representatives of feminists, indigenous peoples, environmentalists, human rights activists, handicapped people, and the unemployed met Thursday, November 3, in Argentina, with foreign ministers from countries that are participating in the 4th Summit of the Americas. They debated items that will be included in the Mar del Plata Declaration, to be issued at the conclusion of the encounter.
The representative of the Center of Human Rights and Environment of Argentina, íngeles Pereira, regretted that the Kyoto Protocol will not be mentioned in the declaration. Nevertheless, she commemorated the fact that, for the first time, a Summit of the Americas is open to the participation of social movements.
The civil society representatives also took a stand against the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) and against the presence of US president George W. Bush at the Summit. The final declaration will be signed by the 34 heads of State who are participating in the meeting.
The most controversial item in the report is the inclusion of the FTAA. Mexico is in favor a ministerial meeting in the first half of next year to revive negotiations on the economic bloc. The negotiations have been stalled since last year.
The Mercosur countries, for their part, want to promote greater economic and trade integration before establishing a date for the resumption of negotiations. Their idea is that it is not productive to return to negotiations without defining positions in advance.
On the first day of discussions, the Summit participants did not reach an agreement on this matter. It is possible that the decision on whether or not to include the FTAA in the declaration will be made by the presidents themselves.
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