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Thousands Protest Bush in Argentina, People's Summit Counters Free Trade Talks
by Democracy Now (reposted)
Friday Nov 4th, 2005 7:39 AM
In the wake of the Summit of the Americas and President Bush’s arrival in Argentina, a People’s Summit is also being organized as a counter protest and thousands have gathered to hear Venezuelan President Chavez speak at a rally. We hear from Nobel Peace prize winner Adolfo Perez Esquivel in Argentina and others.
World leaders are meeting in the coastal resort of Mar del Plata. The meeting is officially assembled to focus on creating jobs and promoting democracy but thousands of protesters are gearing up to demonstrate against President Bush’s visit and the proposed Free Trade Area of the Americas or FTAA. Argentina is the first stop on Bush’s first trip to Latin America since he won re-election one year ago. He will to travel to Brazil and Panama before heading back to Washington on Monday.

Protests began in Argentina three days before Bush’s arrival and a massive security clampdown is in place for the talks. More than 7,500 police officers erected a security ring around summit hotels and patrolled the streets and beaches. Coast guard boats watched the shoreline and air space was restricted. Most schools canceled classes. A People’s Summit is being organized to counter the Summit of the Americas and thousands of people are due to stage a protest rally today that will be addressed by Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez. Argentine soccer legend Diego Maradona joined other celebrities late on Thursday aboard a Chavez-sponsored private train headed from Buenos Aires to Mar del Plata, to lead the march. Speaking to reporters, Maradona blasted Bush’s visit to the country.

* Diego Maradona, Argentine Soccer Player, one of the organizers of the People’s Summit:
“With my daughter, I will lead the march that we're going to do with many because he doesn't value us, he steps on us and yet we have to be at his feet. Not I. Not I nor many Argentines. We don't agree with this."

The mayor of Mar Del Plata, Daniel Katz, came out in support of the People’s Summit.

* Daniel Katz, mayor of Mar Del Plata:
“It reassures me that Maradona is coming, it reassures me that people come to participate in the Summit of the People, because there is also an attempt to demonise the People's Summit, that is to say, that the violence will be generated from there. And the architect Perez Esquival said to me from the first day the watchword is to generate consensus, not violence. And it seems to me the presence of respected, popular figures at the front of this march is going to guarantee just that."

Cuban leader Fidel Castro was the only leader excluded from the Summit of the Americas which was sponsored by the Organization of American States. However, Cuba sent a large continegent to the People"s Summit. Among the Cubans participating is Cuba"s world record-holding high jumper, Javier Soto Mayor.

* Patricia Diaz Bialet, who organized a contingent of artists taking part in the protests:
“We artists, intellectuals and writers repudiate the presence of Bush in Argentina. We say "No" to those responsible for the genocide in Iraq and guilty of the hunger and poverty in the world."

Today's Guests:

* James Petras, author and journalist, Professor Emeritus at SUNY Binghamton. He has written about Latin America for many years and is author of the new book, "Social Movements and State Power: Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Ecuador."
* Elsa Montero, IMECC, a worker-run clinic in Argentina. She is translated by Gretchen Begley.
* Adolfo Perez Esquivel, Argentine Nobel Peace Laureate


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