| GUATEMALA CITY
GUATEMALA CITY Mayan leaders will spiritually
"cleanse" ancient ruins in Guatemala after a visit by U.S.
President George W. Bush, unpopular here because of foreign
policies going back to Central America's civil wars.
The leaders said they would hold a spiritual ceremony to
restore "peace and harmony" at the Mayan ruins of Iximche after
Bush tours the site on Monday.
"No, Mr. Bush, you cannot trample and degrade the memory of
our ancestors," said indigenous leader Rodolfo Pocop during a
press conference. "This is not your ranch in Texas."
Bush will arrive on Sunday night in Guatemala, his
second-to-last stop on a five-country tour of Latin America,
where his approval ratings are low. His visit sparked violent
protests in Brazil and Colombia. Social groups are organizing
marches against his visit to Guatemala.
On Friday, some 150 student protesters blocked off a street
in Guatemala City near two U.S. fast food outlets to burn an
American flag and set off firecrackers.
"We've burnt this flag for what the Yankee did all over the
world. We remember the CIA's policy in our country, which
promoted scorched-earth policies and the bloodshed of our
people," the protest leader shouted, standing on a car.
The CIA helped overthrow a democratically elected socialist
government in Guatemala in 1954 and U.S.-backed troops
destroyed entire Mayan villages in a counter-insurgency
campaign at the peak of Guatemala's 1960-96 civil war.
U.S. involvement in the war, which left nearly a quarter of
a million people dead or missing, makes Bush's presence in
Guatemala offensive to the nation's ethnic Mayan people, youth
leader Jorge Morales Toj said.
In a 1999 visit to Guatemala, former U.S. President Bill
Clinton said the United States was wrong to have supported
violent right-wing governments in the Central American nation.
Resentment still lingers across the region, however.
Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez, Washington's principal
antagonist in Latin America, has called Bush "the devil" and at
a United Nations debate last year said the U.S. leader left a
smell of sulfur lingering in the room behind him.
Bush will visit farm cooperatives and schools in the
Chimaltenango district to the west of the capital, an area
where forensic scientist have uncovered numerous mass graves
from wartime massacres.
At the Iximche ruins, a capital of the Kaqchikel Mayan
people before the 1524 Spanish conquest, native dances will be
performed for Bush and Berger and they will be given an
archaeological tour of the vine-cracked pyramids.
"We reject this portrayal of our people as a tourist
attraction," said Morales Toj, who heads a national Mayan youth
movement. "We will burn incense, place flowers and water in the
area where Mr. Bush has walked to clean out the bad energy."
The activists also criticized massive deportation sweeps in
the United States, where many poor Mayans live and work without