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South Africans Protest Bush Visit - 2003-07-09

Demonstrators in the South African city Cape Town and in front of the American embassy in Pretoria protested Tuesday against President George W. Bush's visit and his foreign policies.

A total of about 500 people, most of them South Africans, participated in two protests at the U.S. embassy. People in the crowd offered a variety of reasons they are angry at President Bush, ranging from the war in Iraq to his policy on abortion.

An activist from the Reproductive Rights Alliance, Judy Merckel, was angry that Mr. Bush's policies block funding of clinics that perform abortions, which she says reduces the availability of a variety of health services for women.

"Millions of dollars in foreign aid towards health services are being affected increasing the number of unintended pregnacies, increasing the number of unintended births, increasing the number of women dying from backstreet abortions," said Ms. Merckel. "It's increased the number of deaths of women and children all over the world, and condom distribution is getting less and less."

The protests in Pretoria and Cape Town were organized by the Anti-War Coalition and by the so-called tri-partite alliance of the ruling African National Congress, the South African Communist Party and the Congress of South African Trade Unions.

During his visit, Mr. Bush has stressed that his administration cares about the people of Africa, and that his policies are designed to alleviate the worst suffering of the continent's poor. But it's a message that the protesters in Pretoria and Cape Town have not heard, or do not believe.