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Monday, November 22

Bush in Chile: the fracas

From the Buzzflash mailbag today (11-22-04)
Subject: Bush fracas during Chilean visit

I am a Chilean citizen but read your paper daily. Most of us here in Chile share your views and that of like online papers such as Truthout, Whatreallyhappened, Commondreams, etc.
Bush´s visit to Chile has left - so far - most of us chuckling because of the overkill in the security measures taken by his entourage, which is also disproportionate to those of the other leaders. By far. Especially in a town almost empty because of the three day weekend.

Two Jumbos filled up with secret service people; 40 (yes, forty) cars in his caravan including two limos just alike so to inspire doubt as to which one he´s in, a huge ambulance, ominous looking vehicles with 6 antennaes; Two planes (Awacs); 200 9mm weapons introduced into the country; Snipers galore; An entire hotel cut from all contact to the exterior for blocks around it; Bush sneaking in and out of tunnels and back entrances: he even refused, and was the only one to do so, to receive honors in the square in front of La Moneda, our government house, because he would have had to walk 80 yards to get inside the latter.

He broke protocol a few times arriving whenever he pleased with disregard for the other leaders including Putin who was not bothered by it, apparently.

The gala dinner that was scheduled for tonight (Sunday 21st) and was to be hosted by our president with an attendance of 250 ministers, government people, and big Chilean entrepreneurs was cancelled by my president due to the insistent requirements of the US Secret Service (SS?) to check everybody bodily for arms with metal detectors and such. Since we did not want to subject our people to such manhandling the dinner is going to be a smaller affair of 20 people. Hours before this happened, before Bush was to arrive to the CEO Summit, everybody had to leave the room (from all 21 countries, mind you) so the SSs could check seat by seat with detectors and dogs.

Then he made his grand entrance after ignoring the host of the Summit, a Chilean, and read a speech titled "Peace and Prosperity in the World." Of course the irony of it was not lost on us, simple spectators, or the press. All this to great applause, half of it real, and half of it pre-taped.

As for the fracas that your paper mentions, reading the news article one may think that Chilean secret service and police just interfered without reason. The truth is that the protocol indicated (and this was made known weeks ago) that each leader was to go inside the dinner place with only one bodyguard. They all complied, except Bush, that tried to enter with six. Of course five were stopped.

Some papers said Bush had "imperial airs."

I think he was hiding as usual.

By the way: My president improvised in his second language (English) while Bush had to read in his native one.

Yours truly,

M. Escudero
Santiago, Chile

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