Bush Bashed in Brazil
Bush Greeted by Clashes in Brazil
BBC NEWS - Published: 2007/03/09 01:43:02 GMT
US President George W Bush has arrived in Brazil's largest city, Sao Paulo, as a massive march in protest at his visit turned violent.
At least 20 people were hurt in clashes between demonstrators and riot police.
The US president is due to meet Brazil's Luis Inacio Lula da Silva to sign an ethanol energy alliance.
He will also visit Uruguay, Colombia, Guatemala and Mexico in a week-long tour aimed at strengthening US ties with its Latin American neighbours.
In Sao Paulo, some 10,000 people spilled out along one of the city's broadest avenues, in the heart of the financial district, banging drums, waving red flags and carrying banners reading "Bush Go Home".
Although largely peaceful, clashes flared between some of the protesters and police.
Demonstrators threw rocks, fireworks and homemade "potato bombs" - made from gunpowder wrapped in foil - at some of the 4,000 police patrolling the streets during Mr Bush's visit.
Riot police responded by firing tear gas and lashing out with their batons.
At least 20 people, 16 of whom are reportedly policemen, were injured in the clashes.
Many of the demonstrators are angry at the war in Iraq and the proposed ethanol deal, which they say is an attempt to control the country's production of the bio-fuel which powers eight out of 10 new cars in Brazil.
Together with Colombia, Brazil produces about 70% of the world's ethanol, a bio-fuel made from sugar cane or corn.
The proposed accord would make ethanol an internationally traded commodity and promote its production in Central America and the Caribbean.
But activists claim that sugar cane cultivation is water intensive and responsible for stripping the Amazon rainforest.
They also say that the ethanol production process is concentrated in the hands of a few powerful families or corporations.
As Mr Bush left Washington to begin his tour, hundreds of protesters occupied the Cevasa sugar and ethanol-processing plant in Sao Paulo state that was recently sold to a US company.
Correspondents say Washington is adjusting to the election of increasing numbers of left-wing administrations in Latin America, including some that are openly critical of the US.
Timed to coincide with Mr Bush's visit to Uruguay, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez will make an appearance on Friday in Argentina.
Mr Chavez is expected to hurl insults at Mr Bush at a rally in a football stadium in Buenos Aires.
The BBC's Daniel Schweimler, in Buenos Aires, says Mr Chavez will find an enthusiastic reception to his fiery brand of anti-US rhetoric.
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