[FoRK] Hurricane preparation...
Adam L Beberg
Thu Nov 3 13:01:17 PST 2005
Hurricane George on the way... could make katrina seem like a minor squal...
Argentine city hunkers down for anti-Bush violence
By Kevin GrayThu Nov 3,12:54 PM ET
Shopkeepers raced to board up storefronts and residents fled this
Argentine seaside resort on Thursday as thousands of protesters prepared
marches against U.S. President George W. Bush during an Americas-wide
Bush was scheduled to arrive late Thursday for a two-day Summit of the
Americas in a country where anti-Bush sentiment runs high due to the war
in Iraq and U.S.-backed, free-market policies that Argentines say pushed
millions of their compatriots into poverty.
"People see all the iron barricades and police on every corner and they
get scared," said construction worker Hernan Brito, who received five
last-minute requests to board up store windows from merchants who he
said also fear looting.
U.S. interests like Blockbuster video stores and Citibank branches were
covered with corrugated metal shields ahead of protest marches early Friday.
More than 7,500 police officers erected a security ring around the
summit hotels and patrolled the streets and beaches of this normally
bustling city of 600,000, which looked more like a ghost town. Coast
guard boats and helicopters trolled the shore, while air space was
"We hope protests are carried out in a peaceful way, but if they are
not, we are prepared to give wrongdoers a forceful response," said
Federal Police commissioner Daniel Rodriguez.
Leftist activists mostly from Latin America are holding an alternative
Peoples' Summit and Bush's main critic in the region, leftist Venezuelan
President Hugo Chavez, is due to speak there on Friday.
The war of words between Bush and Chavez over trade and development will
take center stage at the summit, but Chavez also aims to be the victor
on the streets.
A Chavez-sponsored train will bring anti-Bush celebrities like Argentine
soccer legend Diego Maradona to the city. U.S. anti-war activist Cindy
Sheehan and other relatives of soldiers killed in Iraq are also expected
Cuba's Fidel Castro, the only leader not invited to the summit, sent a
delegation of Cuban athletes to the Peoples' Summit to support his
Argentina's "piqueteros" -- the militant unemployed who sprang to fame
during the country's 2001-2002 economic crisis -- are organizing their
own march for Friday.
The bunker mentality even spread to the capital Buenos Aires, 250 miles
to the north, where two separate riots took place this week. The
government blamed a hodgepodge of labor and leftist groups for the
But fears of terror attacks also came into play. Buenos Aires subway
employees refused to work during the summit due to what they perceived
as a security threat.
Bush may also face protests when he travels to Brazil on Saturday.
In Argentina, the summit of 34 leaders will concentrate on job creation
as the key to long-term prosperity for Latin America, where the $3,000
per capita income is less than 10 percent of the U.S. average.
More prickly issues, like the U.S. push to restart stalled talks for the
Free Trade Area of the Americas or FTAA in 2006, may not make much
progress in the forum due to resistance among Latin America's big economies.
In a first act of protest at a Thursday meeting of foreign ministers, a
young woman with a green scarf over her face held up the sign "No to FTAA."
Locals who had hoped for a boost from the summit scoffed at it for the
trouble it was causing their businesses.
"They say the summit is focusing on job creation, but we have to leave
our jobs so they can do it," said an angry Gloria Martinez, who sells
Mar del Plata's famous sweaters.
(Additional reporting by Raymond Colitt in Brasilia)
Adam L. Beberg
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