Bush's visit prompts protests, mayhem in S. America

SAO PAULO, Brazil (AP) -- Police clashed Thursday with students, environmentalists and left-leaning Brazilians protesting a visit by President Bush and his push for an ethanol energy alliance with Latin America's largest nation.
Protesting students also lobbed rocks and homemade explosives called potato bombs at riot police on a university campus in the Colombian capital of Bogota, where Bush is scheduled to visit Sunday as part of his five-nation tour of Latin America.
In Sao Paulo, officers fired tear gas at protesters and beat them with batons after more than 6,000 people held a largely peaceful march through the financial heart of South America's largest city.
In Colombia, about 200 masked students at Bogota's National University spray-painting anti-U.S. slogans on walls and shouting "Out Bush!" clashed with 300 anti-riot police carrying shields. Meanwhile, Colombia's police chief said authorities have foiled leftist rebel plans for terrorist acts to disrupt Bush's visit, but offered no details.
Some protesters in Brazil carried stalks of sugarcane -- which is used to make ethanol -- and a banner reading: "For every liter of ethanol produced, 4 liters of fresh water are consumed, monoculture is destroying the nation's greatest asset."
Activists from the environmental group Greenpeace warned that increased ethanol production could lead to further clearing of the Amazon rain forest as well as cause social unrest, since most sugarcane-ethanol operations are run by wealthy families or corporations that reap most of the benefits while the poor are left to cut the cane with machetes.
Bush has spoken approvingly of Brazil's ethanol program, which powers eight out of every 10 new cars. The proposed accord is meant to help turn ethanol into an internationally traded commodity and to promote sugarcane-based ethanol production in Central America and the Caribbean. Graffiti reading "Get Out, Bush! Assassin!" appeared on walls near the locations Bush will drive past on his tour that also includes stops in Uruguay, Guatemala and Mexico.
Copyright 2007 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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