09 March 2007

Welcome to Brazil @ssh@le...

Poor little Georgie! He's not bad, just misunderestimated...


Bush Pledge to Promote Bio-Fuels
US President George W Bush has vowed to promote technologies for the production of alternative fuels like ethanol.

Mr Bush made the pledge in Brazil, after the signing of a deal between the two countries.

His host, Luis Inacio Lula da Silva, said the partnership was a new moment for the car industry, for the production of fuel and for humanity.

At least 20 people were hurt in clashes with police on Thursday as thousands protested at Mr Bush's arrival.

More protests are expected.

Mr Bush will also go to Uruguay, Colombia, Guatemala and Mexico during his six-day tour of Latin America.

Coinciding with Mr Bush's visit to Uruguay, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez will make an appearance on Friday in Argentina.

Mr Chavez is expected to hurl insults at Mr Bush at a rally in a football stadium in Buenos Aires.

The BBC's Daniel Schweimler, in Buenos Aires, says Mr Chavez will find an enthusiastic reception to his fiery brand of anti-US rhetoric.

'Strategic partnership'

Mr Bush and Mr Lula met at a fuel distribution plant in Sao Paulo.

The two countries have signed a deal which will make ethanol an internationally traded commodity and promote its production in Central America and the Caribbean.

"We come to celebrate a strategic partnership between the United States and Brazil," Mr Lula said as the two men toured the plant.

They said that increasing bio-fuel use would lead to more jobs, a cleaner environment and less dependence on oil.

"We see the bright and real potential for our citizens being able to use alternative sources of energy that will promote the common good," Mr Bush said.

Together with the US, Brazil produces about 70% of the world's ethanol, a bio-fuel made from sugar cane or corn.

But activists say sugar cane cultivation is water intensive and responsible for stripping the Amazon rainforest.

They also say the ethanol production process is concentrated in the hands of a few powerful families or corporations.

Many of the demonstrators are also angry at the war in Iraq.

On Thursday, about 10,000 people spilled out along one of San Paulo's broadest avenues, in the heart of the financial district, banging drums, waving red flags and carrying banners reading "Bush Go Home".

Although largely peaceful, clashes flared between some of the protesters and police.

Demonstrators threw rocks and sticks at some of the 4,000 riot police , who responded by firing tear gas and lashing out with their batons. Sixteen police were reported to be among the injured.

But the BBC's Lourdes Heredia in Sao Paulo says that while the majority of people in the city are suspicious of the visit they seem ready to give President Bush a chance.

"Bush is not a close friend, but he is not our enemy either... I think we should have good relationships with everyone," shopkeeper Anne Helene told the BBC.

Published: 2007/03/09 15:27:20 GMT



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