By Mary Milliken and Kevin Gray
MAR DEL PLATA, Argentina (Reuters)
Thousands of marchers on the streets of a heavily policed Argentine resort protested on Friday against U.S. President George W. Bush and his free-trade push as leaders from the Americas convened for a contentious debate on improving Latin America's economy.
The protesters' voice inside the summit meeting room will be Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, the leftist leader who opposes Bush's economic model. He arrived early Friday vowing to stop the stalled Free Trade Area of the Americas or FTAA.
"I think we came here to bury FTAA. I brought my shovel," Chavez told reporters.
Chavez is due to speak at an alternative Peoples' Summit at midday before the two-day meeting of leaders begins in the afternoon.
A train sponsored by Chavez pulled in at dawn Friday carrying celebrity sympathizers including Argentine soccer legend Diego Maradona and joined busloads of university students, rights activists and labor-union members.
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