Yay! Bush is currently traveling across Latin America and people aren't happy:
Experts in Latin American affairs are saying they aren't surprised at the negative reaction President Bush is receiving as he begins a seven-day tour through the region to push for an ethanol alliance with Brazil.
"His real challenge, however, is that there is an enormous rejection of U.S. foreign policy in the world and America," said Arturo Valenzuela, director of the Center for Latin American Studies at Georgetown University.
"In other words, there is very little affinity for the president's policies in Iraq and the ways in which he has conducted international relations over these years."
That was the good news. Here's the bad news:
Despite the protests, the United States still wields enormous influence in Latin America, a potential plus for Bush.
"He's still the president of the United States," said Dan Restrepo of the Center for American Progress. "He may be the lame-duck president of the United States, but the U.S. is the most important trading partner for virtually every country in the Americas."
Isn't it great how the government has to stick its thumb in every pie?
But the worst news is the violence. Considering the worldwide opinion of Bush, just about any city he visits outside the US will have civilian-police violence upon his arrival. Sao Paulo residents took to the streets to peacefully protest Bush's visit, and police in response fired some tear gas and cracked some skulls:
Riot police fired tear gas and beat some protesters with batons after more than 6,000 people held a largely peaceful march through the financial district. And in the southern city of Porto Alegre, more than 500 people yelled, "Get out, imperialist!" as they burned an effigy of Bush outside a Citigroup Inc. bank branch.
In response to the protests, a White House spokesperson defended Bush's tour of Latin America:
"The trip is to remind people that we care."
For some reason, I'm not totally sure that this trip will convince Latin America of that.