Argentina tightens security controls to host Bush at the 4th Summit of the Americas

Soccer legend Diego Maradona said in Cuba that he will lead a demonstration against the US President

As residents of the peaceful Argentine resort Mar del Plata flee from the town: military aircrafts, battleships and hundreds of troops start arriving to look after the 34 leaders of the Americas – all except Cuba - that will meet there to hold the Fourth Summit of the Americas. Without Castro in the list, the US President George W. Bush and his Venezuelan counterpart, Hugo Chavez, will attract all the attention of a summit that is not expected to advance significantly in urgent hemispherical issues as poverty, inequality and unemployment.Mar del Plata

But as Chavez is expected to have a warm welcome from his enthusiastic Argentine supporters, unseen security measures are being taken to keep the locally hated US President out of risk. As usually in the last years, a parallel “Summit of the peoples” is to take place in Mar del Plata, as social leaders from Argentina and the rest of the region are preparing massive protests against globalization, the war in Iraq and its main activist, George W. Bush.

Argentine soccer hero Diego Maradona promised Cuban President Fidel Castro on Thursday he would be at the front of an anti-Bush march in Argentina next week.
"I think Bush is a murderer... I'm going to head the march against him stepping foot on Argentine soil," Maradona said, appearing on Cuban television with Castro.

The announcement made by Maradona is expected to encourage local protesters, as the former World Cup champion is adored as a god in Argentina. Recently, Diego has become a public leader opinion thanks to his TV Show which ranks first at the top of rating lists in the local TV.

"I promised the 'Comandante' that I would do it and I will," the 44-year-old football legend said, referring to Castro. For me he is a god," Maradona said of the 79-year-old left-wing Cuban leader, whom he considers a friend and a father figure who helped him kick drugs.

Even when the Summit is scheduled for next Thursday, local residents have been fleeing from the city since the beginning of this week. Those who live in the restricted areas have to register at the police posts to return to their homes and cannot drive cars that do not belong to them.

Three US battle aircrafts landed last week in the tiny local airport carrying tons of equipment, food and water to supply Bush and his collaborators. The US delegation has fully booked a five stars hotel in the center of the town, as other members of the team had to make do in other premises.

As for the summit, which is promoted by the Organization of the American States (OAS), it is not expected to provide with significant results. Under the motto: “Creating Jobs to Fight Poverty and Strengthen Democratic Governance”, some leaders – Bush, Colombia's Uribe, Peru's Toledo and Chile's Lagos - are going to fuel pro-market policies, while others –Venezuela's Chavez, Brazil's Lula Da Silva and Argentina's Kirchner - will insist in strengthening the role of the state to fight poverty in the most unequal region of the world.

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Author`s name Olga Savka