President Bush says his administration has not ignored Latin America, where several anti-Bush protests have marred the start of his six-day regional goodwill tour. But Mr. Bush faced tough questioning about his commitment to the region during a news conference in Sao Paulo with Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva on Friday.
President Bush said US aid to the region has doubled since he took office, and he said funding to help the poor and disenfranchised in Latin America remains a priority. He also denied charges that his tour was designated to counter the anti-American rhetoric of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.
Meanwhile, anti-Bush activists were gathering in Argentina for a rally headlined by President Chavez. The mass protest will be held as Mr. Bush visits neighboring Uruguay. Mr. Bush has said he welcomes the planned rally.