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Home >> World
UPDATED: 10:59, March 09, 2007
U.S. president arrives in Brazil for five-nation Latin American tour
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U.S. President George W. Bush arrived in Sao Paulo, Brazil's largest city, on Thursday evening to start his five-nation Latin American tour.

Air Force One landed at Guarulhos airport, from where Bush, together with his wife Laura Bush and U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, headed for Brasilia's Hilton Hotel.

Bush is scheduled to visit Brazil, Uruguay, Colombia, Guatemala and Mexico from Thursday to next Wednesday, his first foreign trip of the year and the longest ever to the region.

Anti-Bush rallies took place in several major Brazilian cities. Ahead of his arrival, about 6,000 students, environmentalists and left-wingers demonstrated in the streets of Sao Paulo against his visit. They called Bush the Lord of War and set fire to a U.S. national flag.

They also carried an effigy of the U.S. president with a swastika stuck to it.

A confrontation took place between some demonstrators and the police. The latter fired tear gas to disperse the crowd.

No immediate report of injuries was available from the authorities, but local media said at least six people were hurt.

In Rio de Janeiro, anti-Bush activists blocked access to half of Avenida Rio Branco, the city's main avenue. They also marched toward the U.S. consulate and hurled stones at the building.

In the southern Brazilian city of Porto Alegre, more than 500 protesters yelled "Get Out, Imperialist!" and burned an effigy of Bush.

This is the second visit paid by the U.S. president to Brazil since his Brazilian counterpart Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva took office.

Bush's trip comes as Washington is adjusting its policy toward the region after Bush has come under increasing criticism by the

Democrat-controlled U.S. Congress for "losing" the region.

The White House said earlier that Bush's trip aims to underline the U.S. government's commitment to the region and advance "democracy."

In Brazil, where he is scheduled to stay for about 24 hours, Bush and Lula Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva will discuss how to increase biofuel production, said the Brazilian media.

Brazil and the United States contribute some 70 percent of production to the world's ethanol market, and Washington is considering the feasibility of establishing, along with Brazil, an organization that groups exporting countries of alternative fuel, a body similar to the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).

For many years, Brazil has been trying hard to promote its export of products related to alternative fuels, including cars using ethanol or natural gas, but these plans have been obstructed by high U.S. trade tariffs. The United States levies 54 cents per gallon tariff on ethanol imports from Brazil.

According to Brazilian officials, the two presidents will sign a general cooperation agreement on ethanol, so as to make it a negotiable commodity.

For Brazil, the leading exporter of sugar cane-based fuel, the aim is to create a "global ethanol market," said Foreign Minister Celso Amorim.

Source: Xinhua

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