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World leaders head to Chile

But anti-Bush protests expected

SANTIAGO, Chile -- A 29-year-old math teacher who goes by the name Patricio says that as soon as President Bush arrives in this South American capital tomorrow, the fighting will begin.

''We'll knock down some barriers, set some fires, paint some graffiti," said the antiglobalization activist who declined to provide his full name. ''We are going to go where the police don't want us to go."

Bush is traveling here for the summit of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, his first trip abroad since his reelection and his first official visit to this continent. Twenty other world leaders will attend this weekend's summit, including Russian President Vladimir V. Putin, Chinese President Hu Jintao, and Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi.

For Chilean officials, the summit is a kind of coming-out party affirming its status as South America's most dynamic economy. In January, Chile became the first country on the continent to enter into a free-trade agreement with the United States.

''Just the fact that 21 leaders will be here, along with the 500 corporate chiefs, and that we will contribute to the success of the World Trade Organization and the completion of the Doha Round [of free-trade talks] already makes the summit a triumph," Foreign Minister Ignacio Walker said Tuesday.

But the summit will also highlight the antipathy many Chileans feel toward Bush, a leader widely seen here as a symbol of America's unchecked dominion over world affairs.

A number of anti-Bush and antiglobalization protests are planned. President Richard Lagos's government took the unusual step yesterday of announcing that Bush would have diplomatic immunity during his visit. The declaration was made after some activists filed a criminal complaint against Bush in court, claiming that he and other US officials were guilty of war crimes in Iraq.

''It is not possible that our president is going to meet this criminal Bush and shake his hand in an official state visit," said Fernando Ortiz, a top official in the Humanist Party and the leftist Podemos political alliance as well as one of the activists behind the complaint against Bush. ''Lagos is going to betray the Chilean people."

Under Chilean law, local courts can take measures to enforce compliance with international treaties to which Chile is a signatory, including the Geneva Conventions and the Convention Against Torture. Ortiz said the Humanist Party complaint was rejected by a lower court judge but is on appeal.

Ortiz acknowledged that the complaint had little chance at success, noting that when he presented it at court, several clerks responded with howls of laughter when they saw the list of the accused, which in addition to Bush included Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of State Colin Powell, and others.

To keep protests in check, the Chilean government has deployed thousands of additional police officers to patrol strategic points around Santiago, and the Air Force is enforcing new restrictions in the airspace around the city. Tomorrow has been declared a holiday in the capital, with people urged to stay home.

The largest protest is scheduled for tomorrow, with organizers hoping to bring tens of thousands of people out on the streets of Santiago.

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