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Bush visit angers Guatemalan Mayans
Indigenous Guatemalans say president's visit to Iximche ruins will sully holy site.
Last Modified: 13 Mar 2007 06:26 GMT
Indigenous Guatemalans say Bush's visit to Iximche
will sully the Mayan site [EPA]
George Bush, the US president, has faced further protests on his South America tour as he visited Guatemala for talks on immigration.
 
Following demonstrations during his trips to Brazil, Uruguay and Colombia, Bush is now being urged not to visit the Iximche Mayan ruins which indigenous Guatemalans consider a holy site.
Indigenous Guatemalans staged an overnight vigil near Iximche, 90km west of the capital, saying Bush's visit would "sully" the site.
 
In Tecpan, near the ruins, protesters set up banners that read: "out with Bush, the murderer, invader, fascist, criminal."
Site to be cleansed
 
Tight security has surrounded Bush's trip, with armed troops patroling the streets and F-16 fighter jets flying overhead.
 
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ush is to visit the ruins and a farm co-operative later on Monday and Mayan leaders have promised to spiritually "cleanse" the site afterwards.
 
Brief scuffles broke out earlier in the day between riot police and indigenous farmers opposed to the visit.
 
Jorge Morales Toj, an indigenous leader, said: "We are protesting against the world's biggest murderer stepping onto our sacred place. For us it is painful and an enormous offense."
 
Illegal immigrants

More than a million Guatemalans live in the United States, many of them illegally. About 2,500 of them have been expelled so far this year.

Bush is scheduled to hold discussions with Oscar Berger, the country's president, in Guatemala City for talks expected to be dominated by trade and immigration.
 
Berger is likely to press for a temporary moratorium on deportations of Guatemalans who enter the US illegally, while the Bush administration and congress are trying to work out a more lasting solution to immigration issues.

Meanwhile, Chavez has shadowed Bush for much of his trip and as Bush arrived in Guatemala on Sunday, the Venezuelan leader was in Nicaragua.

US criticised

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Daniel Ortega, the country's president, joined him in criticising US policies, saying US funds that could be invested in the region were used to fund the Iraq war.

Otega said: "If US policy does not change, we won't be able the believe the message the US president is trying to deliver to Latin America,"  said Ortega.

During the visit, Chavez announced a $2.5bn project to build an oil refinery in Nicaragua.

Chavez flew on to Haiti on Monday, while Bush was scheduled to travel later in the day to Mexico, the last leg of his five-nation tour.

The Venezuelan president, who will also visit Jamaica, is expected to pledge $20m in aid during his Haiti trip and take part in a rally in the capital, Port-au-Prince.

Source:
Al Jazeera
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