"Brazilians go home!"

The protest shout, usually directed at "Yankees" by Latin American protesters, has been heard on the streets of Bolivia and Ecuador this year. Opposition demonstrators have been hollering it in Venezuela since 2002.

Brazil's rising economic and political power in South America has in some cases whipped up resentment and nationalistic fervor, just as U.S. influence has for the past century.

Efforts by Brazilian businesses to gain economic dominance in the region have drawn stone-throwing protesters, bomb attacks and trade battles.

Argentines complain of an invasion of imports from Latin America's biggest nation and takeovers of local food, cement and oil companies by Brazilian firms.

Brazil's drive to win a permanent seat on the U.N. Security Council has riled Argentina and Mexico, which would prefer to see a revolving seat representing the region.

In Bolivia, where Brazil's state oil company, Petrobras, is the country's biggest firm and Brazilian farming interests control a third of the soy market, protesters accuse the regional giant of imperialism.

When Brazil granted asylum to the ousted Ecuadoran president Lucio Gutierrez in April, street protesters in Quito, Ecuador's capital, pelted the Brazilian ambassador's car with rocks and called President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva of Brazil a "traitor."

"In the 1960s, we shouted, 'Get out Yankees!' Are we this century's Yankees?" asked Brazil's Folha de Sao Paulo newspaper.

"The country is sometimes seen as a second United States," said Eduardo Viola, a foreign relations expert at the University of Brasilia.

Brazil's business and diplomatic cultures were inward-looking until the mid-1990s.

Former president Fernando Henrique Cardoso, and now Lula, have done much to change that, promoting Brazil's businesses through South America's Mercosur trade bloc, which also includes Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay.

The state-owned Brazilian Development Bank and Banco do Brasil are making loans in nearly every South American country. According to the central bank, Brazil invested $17 billion in South America between 2001 and 2003.

Rather than discuss Brazilian leadership in South America, Lula prefers to talk about "regional responsibility."

Among Brazilian politicians and in the news media, there is an assumption the country is more stable and democratic than neighbors and has a duty to promote regional stability.

Brazil has strengthened diplomatic commitments in South America to protect Brazilian interests in what Renato Baumann, director of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean, calls a "new agenda" for the region.

"When the country's exposure rises, new products, new companies, new opportunities appear, but also questions of security and sabotage," Baumann said.

Viola said Brazil faced limited risks in Argentina and Bolivia, because groups opposing its influence, ranging from miners to shoemakers, lacked political and economic clout.

He said he was more concerned that Brazil's growing alliance with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, notably in energy, would harm relations with members of Venezuela's wealthy elite, who oppose the Chavez government.

Baumann said Brazil had discovered the potential for better relations with neighbors and was not worried if some South Americans saw Brazilians as the "new gringos."