Nov 19, 2:52 PM (ET)
SANTIAGO, Chile (Reuters) - Hooded anti-American marchers protesting an Asia-Pacific summit in Chile on Friday hurled Molotov cocktails and stones at police who retaliated with water cannons and tear gas.
A large march against the weekend meeting of 21 leaders of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum turned violent when a few dozen youths broke away from the main group to attack police.
President Bush was due to arrive later on Friday and his visit has become a lightening rod for protests.
Tens of thousands of people streamed through downtown Santiago carrying banners and chanting slogans against the U.S.-led occupation of Iraq, including "Fascist Bush is a terrorist."
The area affected by violence was small and had no effect on plans of APEC leaders, including Russian President Vladimir Putin and China's President Hu Jintao, to hold bilateral meetings ahead of the leaders' summit on the weekend.
Ministers paving the way for the weekend meeting have discussed ways to revive global trade talks launched in Doha three years ago. Cooperation against international terrorism is also on the agenda, at the urging of countries including the United States and Russia.
China's Hu has taken advantage of his South American trip to guarantee supplies of key commodities for his booming economy. He launched free-trade talks with Chile, the world's largest copper exporter, and promised investment during visits to soy-producing Brazil and Argentina.
A VIOLENT MINORITY
Police estimated the number of marchers at 25,000, but protest leaders said the real number was 70,000.
"The turnout is much bigger than we'd expected. This is a polite response to Bush's barbarity," said Ernesto Medina, a march organizer.
APEC officials were far away in their hotels or in a convention center overlooking the foothills of the Andes on the outskirts of Santiago.
Protest organizers from leftist, indigenous and environmental groups said the rights of workers and the need to protect the environment were being ignored in the free-trade agreements promoted by APEC members.
A violent minority pulled shirts over their faces and started throwing rocks when the march ended in Santiago's Bustamante park. They broke up park benches and burned a U.S. flag.
Police doused them with water cannons and fired tear gas from armored vehicles at protesters who dodged behind trees. They made about 40 arrests.
At least one person, who looked like a marcher, was hurt, and was carried into an ambulance with blood streaming from his head.
Chile's government canceled all police leave and decreed a public holiday in Santiago on Friday as part of the strict security.
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