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Thread: Clashes expected at Americas summit

  1. #1
    Partridge Guest

    Clashes expected at Americas summit

    Street protests, Venezuelan chief to oppose Bush

    (Partridge: I read in another article that Chavez was going to lead the march outside the summit. Also, I love the way every time Chavez is mentioned, its obligatory to say 'ally of Castro' - the same way every time Bush is mentioned, they say "President Bush, a close ally of the Saudi, Pakistani, Jordanian and Uzbek dictatorships"... oh wait, silly me.)

    Leaders from 32 American nations and thousands of protesters are demanding the same thing as they converge on this seaside resort: jobs and better wages. But they disagree on how to accomplish that goal, with President Bush expected to push free trade and demonstrators angrily opposed.

    Few believe the two-day Summit of the Americas, which will begin Friday, will solve chronic unemployment and poverty, and even those with jobs here question whether Bush and Latin American leaders will end up crafting deals that help the poor.

    "I don't know what free trade agreements can do for us, and I don't even know what these presidents are going to talk about," said 66-year-old fisherman Dante Vitelo, hauling nets brimming with sardines to shore from the south Atlantic.

    An ideological battle loomed between Bush and Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, a close ally of Cuban leader Fidel Castro and vocal critic of Washington.

    Chavez, a leftist whose government has used the country's vast oil wealth to fund social programs for the poor, said Venezuela would object to any attempt by the U.S. to revive talks on a proposed hemispherewide free-trade zone, the Free Trade Area of the Americas.

    "They are trying to include an article (in a summit declaration) to revive the FTAA. They aren't going to revive it even if they produce a 100,000-page document," Chavez told the Caracas TV channel Telesur this week.
    An interesting summit sideshow could be the interplay between Bush and Chavez, who has said the U.S. wants him overthrown or killed.

    Washington is not alone in its support of talks on a hemisphere-wide free-trade zone. Mexican President Vicente Fox wants the summit to nail down a date for the relaunching of negotiations on the issue, Mexican official Yanerit Morgan Sotomayor said in Mexico City.

    Other differences on the summit's declaration also have emerged. Venezuela wants the declaration to state that 37 million people live in poverty in the United States -- a clause the U.S. doesn't support.

    Leftist activists have gotten their message out early by staging a so-called "People's Summit" and vowing to stage a large-scale march Friday to reject free-market programs.

    They point to Argentina's December 2001 financial meltdown as an example. Once the darling of Wall Street, Argentina plunged into street riots, a searing devaluation and a gargantuan debt default as government spending and more than $100 billion in international borrowing sank South America's second-largest economy. Despite a rebound, 40 percent of Argentina's 36 million people live in poverty.

  2. #2
    Partridge Guest
    (copy and pasted from the marxmail list, so teh formatting is a bit fucked)

    The Oppenheimer Report
    It's Bush versus Maradona, and Bush is behind

    Andres Oppenheimer
    Miami Herald

    Judging from what you hear in Argentina,
    the fourth Summit of the Americas starting in this coastal resort
    city Friday with President Bush and 32 other heads of government from
    the hemisphere will boil down to a battle of two titans -- Bush
    versus Maradona.

    Maradona? Yes, you read well: Diego Armando Maradona, the
    internationally known former soccer star, who is now this country's
    most popular TV talk-show host and by most measures Argentina's most
    admired public figure.

    The soccer legend, who has been treated for drug addiction in Cuba
    for the past five years, has become a zealous follower of Cuba's
    dictator, Fidel Castro. Maradona announced earlier this week from
    Havana that he will lead a massive ''March of the Peoples'' against
    Bush at the start of the summit here Friday.

    Earlier this week, Maradona's TV show La Noche del Diez aired the
    first leg of a five-hour Maradona interview with Castro, and got a
    near record rating, almost as much as all the other major networks
    together. A day later, Maradona's picture with Castro was all over
    the front pages.

    In the interview, which may go down in history as a model of lap-dog
    journalism, Maradona wore a ''Che Guevara'' T-shirt under his jacket.
    In addition to his ''Che Guevara'' tattoo on one of his arms, he
    proudly showed Castro another tattoo on one of his legs -- with a
    drawing of Castro's face. ''I didn't know this. It's an honor,'' a
    delighted Castro responded.


    But Castro was even more delighted when, during the interview,
    Maradona informed him that he would lead an anti-Bush march in Mar
    del Plata.

    ''You deserve a statue,'' Castro applauded. Castro will not
    participate in the summit, because Cuba is not part of the 34-country
    Organization of American States, which organizes the meeting.

    ''He's a murderer,'' Maradona said in a separate television
    appearance in Cuba, referring to Bush.

    On Friday, Maradona will lead the ''March of the Peoples'' to this
    city's soccer stadium, where Cuban singer Silvio RodrĂ^guez will
    entertain the crowd before speeches by Venezuelan President Hugo
    Chávez and Cindy Sheehan, the mother of the 24-year-old soldier
    killed in Iraq who protested outside Bush's Texas ranch last summer.

    ''If I were the honorable president of the United States, I wouldn't
    go,'' Castro told Maradona in the interview. ``You can't go against
    the spirit of the Argentine people so blatantly.''


    A poll by the pro-government leftist daily Página 12 this week showed
    that 58 percent of Argentines oppose Bush's visit and only 10 percent
    of Argentines want their foreign policy to move closer to the United

    Indeed, Argentina, one of the region's most pro-American countries a
    decade ago, has become one of the most anti-American countries in
    Latin America, and one where Castro's image is ranking the highest,
    according to comparative polls. Most Argentines blame U.S.-backed
    free-market policies for the country's financial collapse of 2001.

    Enrique Zuleta Puceiro, who conducted the poll for Página 12, says
    the U.S. war against Iraq and the recent TV images from New Orleans
    have led many Argentines to reject not only Bush, but the United
    States as a country.

    ''America has definitely ceased to be the promised land that many
    [Argentines] saw five years ago,'' Zuleta told the newspaper.

    My conclusions? It's sad to see that Argentina's left, which suffered
    a dictatorship only three decades ago, can't protest against Bush
    without embracing Castro. They seem to have forgotten that there is
    no such thing as a good dictator.

    It sets a bad precedent for this country: Today they admire Castro,
    tomorrow they may embrace another ''savior of the fatherland'' who
    could jail peaceful oppositionists at home.

    Washington could have prevented the Maradona-Castro love affair if it
    had given the soccer star a U.S. visa when he wanted to come for drug
    treatment in Florida in the 1990s. U.S. officials in Argentina at the
    time told me Maradona had requested a visa, but he was told he would
    not qualify. That led him to seek treatment in Cuba.

    Now, we are bound to see a Bush versus Maradona propaganda battle
    over the next 48 hours. It hasn't started, but Maradona is playing at
    home. Advantage, Maradona.

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