Protests and Toughest Security Scheme Ever Await Bush in Brazil

A sign protesting Bush's visit to Brazil Brazilian social movements and workers unions are vowing to bring thousands of people to the streets to protest the visit of American President, George W. Bush, which starts this Thursday night, March 9, in South America's largest city, São Paulo.

Using the slogan "Off with Bush and his Brazil and Latin America Policy" the protests organizers wish to bring 10,000 people to Avenida Paulista, a central thoroughfare used for political rallies and for big celebrations like the World Cup championship. The manifestations should also target some of the most obvious American companies like McDonald's and US banks.

The manifestations against Bush should start March 8 before the US president sets foot in the country. Protesters want to use the occasion to also celebrate the International Women's Day, which happens today. Created in 1909 in the United States, the date was celebrated initially on February 28.

There will be a little cat and mouse play between the Brazilian authorities and the demonstrators. While the protesters vow to "chase Bush wherever he goes" the São Paulo federal police promise that the US president will never see any of the protests. 

Bush's schedule in Brazil hasn't been made public and according to Flávio Luiz Trivella, chief of the Federal Police's Institutional Defense Police Bureau, the protests will not be forbidden, they will just be kept far away from the Yankee president.

"There are several manifestations scheduled," said Trivella, "and the police in concert with the Army, is monitoring everything and making plans so that the US president will never even notice them."

Trivella disclosed that the Brazilian authorities will use top security procedures during Bush's visit in what is called "level one operation." The actions have been discussed for two months with Washington and everything is done by mutual agreement.

The police chief wouldn't reveal, however, how many policemen will be taking part in the operation Bush. It's estimated that 400 Brazilian men will be used. Bush is expected to bring another 300 American agents some carrying even anti-missile weapons.

All his movements by car will be followed from the sky by Brazil's Air Force helicopters. Upon arriving in São Paulo the US president should be taken to a hotel whose name hasn't been revealed but that had already been closed to any outsider since Monday.

The fact that the US is in a war in Iraq and Afghanistan complicates things:

"It will be the same kind of work that we do every time we get an authority of this level," said Trivella. "However, since it's Bush, and due do the war being fought by the United States, the situation gets a little more delicate."

The Avenida Paulista protests are being organized by feminist groups plus over 30 national entities that are part of the CMS (Coordenação dos Movimentos Sociais – Social Movement Coordination). They include the Unified Workers Federation (CUT), the Landless Workers Movement (MST) and the National Students Coalition (UNE).

In Brasí­lia, the capital, some leftist congressmen are  promising a public manifestation by the Congress entrance ramp. Protesters are also getting ready to go to the streets in other Brazilian capitals like Rio de Janeiro, Porto Alegre (Rio Grande do Sul state) and Belo Horizonte (Minas Gerais).

The so-called "anti- Bush journey" has already started yesterday, March 5, with the distribution of leaflets and pasting of posters. One of the signs compares Bush to Hitler, showing a doctored image of the US president with a Hitler-like moustache. The protesting leaders intend to lambast Bush for what they call "the United States' imperialistic policy."

For Sônia Coelho from the World Women's March equality of sexes and abortion rights are going to be brought up during the marches together with protests against the Iraq war: "The world in which Bush puts forward his war is the same world in which women live. They also suffer the consequences of war and of Bush's imperialistic policy."



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