'War criminal Bush' blamed for worldwide crises
PROTESTERS have demanded that US President George W Bush get out of Peru where he is attending an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit, blaming him for the world economic crisis.
"Bush out," about 1000 demonstrators chanted in the center of the capital Lima, watched by scores of police in riot gear who made sure they did not move towards the APEC summit venue several kilometers away.
"This crisis didn't come from the Peruvian people. We shouldn't have to pay for it," a union leader told the crowd, which demonstrated peacefully.
Mr Bush, one of 21 leaders of Asia-Pacific economies converging on Lima for the weekend summit, arrived shortly after the protest. He was escorted under tight US Secret Service and Peruvian police security from Lima airport to the army headquarters building housing the APEC meetings.
Friday's anti-Bush protest, organized by Peru's biggest labor union, charged that Mr Bush's decision to wage a costly war in Iraq contributed to the financial and economic crises.
"The International Criminal Court should try him for crimes against humanity, war crimes and crimes of aggression," a big banner next to the main stage for the rally proclaimed.
"Bush - genocide. The Peruvians repudiate your crimes," said another.
"We believe that Bush is responsible for the fall of the financial system," explained Aldo Gil Cristostomo, a 54-year-old mechanic standing near other protesters carrying portraits of Che Guevara.
"The war in Iraq is partly responsible for the fall," he said.
Mr Cristostomo added that, while he had more sympathy for Mr Bush's successor, Barack Obama, he believed the Democrat "is going to maintain the neo-liberal system" championed by the current US president.
Lima was filled with 39,000 police officers ensuring that none of the heads of state and government would be able to see any demonstrations. At least five people who were among 20 protesters holding a separate against corruption close to the summit venue were arrested late Thursday.
The participants had tried to release a number of live rats in a gesture decrying graft in Peruvian public life, the organizer, Fidel Supo, said in a video published on the website of El Comercio newspaper.