Monday, March 12

Mayan Priests to Purify Holy Site After Bush's Visit Today

Last week, George Bush began a six-day Latin America tour to convey a sense of abiding "social justice" while protesters and priests there oppose his "bad spirits."

After Columbia's nationwide protests and riots Wednesday in anticipation of his visit Sunday, George W. Bush began on Thursday his swing through five Latin America nations to welcoming riots in Brazil.

According to the Associated Press, Bush's trip "is widely viewed by analysts and Brazil's media as an attempt to neutralize [Venezuelan Socialist President Hugo] Chavez' influence in the region." Last September Chavez made international headlines when he called Bush "history's greatest killer" and "the devil."

Other sources suggest Bush's trip is indicative of his administration's concern over Latin America's increasingly "leftward tilt," i.e., growing anti-Americanism. The region's poverty apparently occasioned Bush to forgo his favorite public spiel on combating the war on terror.

In a part of the world where the U.S. invasion of Iraq is particularly unpopular, Bush is not talking much about the global war on terror. And while he won’t mention Chavez by name, his soft-sell pitch clearly is intended to counter the Venezuelan leader’s rising stature and rants that blame Latin America’s poverty on U.S.-style capitalism.

Moreover, after scaling back and even terminating domestic service programs to pay for the Iraq War--cuts in health care, housing (and here), education, etc., etc.-- Bush now will show Latin American his abiding concern for "social justice" by sending some of those American tax dollars south of the border.

During his six-day tour of Brazil, Uruguay, Colombia, Guatemala and Mexico, Bush plans to promote initiatives that expand on the usual U.S. regional agenda of trade agreements and counter-narcotics programs. He has announced new programs to train teachers in Latin America, the June arrival of a U.S. Navy medical ship that will provide health services in a dozen Latin American and Caribbean countries, low-income housing initiatives and a regional energy alliance to promote the production of ethanol.

But Guatemalan Indian priests ministering to a country populated mostly by indigenous peoples know very well the kind of man who on Monday will visit Iximche, a Mayan holy site.

"That a person like (Bush), with the persecution of our migrant brothers in the United States, with the wars he has provoked, is going to walk in our sacred lands, is an offense for the Mayan people and their culture," Juan Tiney, the director of a Mayan non-governmental organization with close ties to Mayan religious and political leaders, said Thursday.

...Tiney said the "spirit guides of the Mayan community" decided it would be necessary to cleanse the sacred site of "bad spirits" after Bush's visit so that their ancestors could rest in peace. He also said the rites — which entail chanting and burning incense, herbs and candles — would prepare the site for the third summit of Latin American Indians March 26-30.

It's uncertain if Bush concludes his Latin American tour in Mexico either on Tuesday or Wednesday. But the welcome he receives there may be no friendlier than the violent protests greeting him in Brazil and Columbia.

Note: Click here for a photo slide show of Bush's Latin American tour.

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