TUCSON, Ariz. – Over 1,700 spirited demonstrators greeted President George W. Bush when he arrived for a brief visit to the area on Aug. 11. Bush came to Tucson to push the administration’s misnamed “Healthy Forest Initiative,” a measure that would serve the interests of the logging industry in the name of fire protection.

Although Bush never actually set foot in the city proper (he flew to Mt. Lemon, the site of the recent Aspen fire, for a photo-op with right-wing politicians), a number of demonstrations erupted in response to his visit.

Before Bush arrived over 350 demonstrators protested the Healthy Forest Initiative at the foot of Mt. Lemon. During his visit, 1,500 people demonstrated in 100-degree temperatures at Republican Party headquarters in Tucson, calling for “regime change” in Washington, D.C.

Susan Willis, a school nurse, told the World that she was there to oppose the administration’s anti-people policies. “Bush and his rich cronies are dangerous for our country,” she said. Eric Reyes, an airport worker and member of the Machinists Union, said he came out to protest because millions of people are losing their jobs while Bush is squandering billions on Iraq. That money would be better spent on guaranteeing that all children have medical coverage, he said.

Phil Gentry, a union railroad worker, rejects “the Bush agenda” of war, privatizing Social Security, and attacks on peoples’ economic well-being. He said, “We need to vote Bush out in 2004, and elect a more progressive Congress, as well.”

The author can be reached at stelnik@webtv.net