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Thursday, May 31

Financial Times Scepticism clouds Peru poll forecasts: "Whatever the outcome, Mr Toledo's emphasis on teamwork reflects a new mood in Peru where consensus, not strong-arm leadership, is widely seen as the way forward. The caretaker administration of President Valentin Paniagua and prime minister Javier Pérez de Cuéllar - which replaced ousted president Alberto Fujimori's regime last November - owes its success to a low-key, team-led approach. The cult of the caudillo (strongman) has been discarded, for now."

Washington Post New Senate, New Latin Policy? ... The Fabric of Free Trade: "Calmet said as many as 200,000 cotton growers and an unknown number of spinners could lose their livelihood if the new legislation does not apply to the whole production process from the raw materials to the finished product. In short, he said, it would be better to have no trade preferences than to have incomplete ones. This could very well be the outcome, a Democratic source in the Senate warned, because senators from cotton-producing states would oppose expanding of ATPA under those terms." Marcela Sanchez gives us an interesting glimpse of Washington's power plays on issues that will impact Peru -- trade barriers on textiles and the appointment of the new assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere affairs -- both now in jeopardy because the Democrats will gain control of the Senate..

Atlanta Journal-Constitution Scandals plague runoff race in Peru - Reforms at stake in vote Sunday: "Toledo added to his woes recently by making a bizarre phone call to a television studio during a live interview with his campaign rival, former President Alan Garcia. Toledo accused Garcia and the female interviewer of having been lovers. On Mother's Day, Toledo told a television audience that his mother died in a terrible earthquake in 1970. Actually, she died long afterward from unrelated causes." Is Toledo cracking under the pressure? Certainly, he's showing weaknesses that were never exposed during the previous campaigns.

Lycos / Reuters Candidates Make Final Promises to Woo Peru Voters: "Eduardo Stein, head of the Organization of American States electoral observers' mission, said on Wednesday Peru could be in for renewed uncertainty if the vote was close. He traced a 'horror movie' scenario of possible street demonstrations or days of legal challenges and limbo." Doom and gloom and all foreboding...

CNN / AP Ex-president's star quality shines bright in Peru comeback bid: "Towering over most Peruvians, he exudes confidence, with boyish good looks, wit and charm. His optimism appeals to Peruvians beaten down by decades of economic decline. He is a political image-maker's dream come true. 'He has it all, just like a movie star. Height. Style,' said Manual Torrado, head of the Datum polling firm. 'He's likable, very likable. He's sharp. He can talk his way out of any difficult situation. He's really brilliant. He looks like a president.' The rise in the number of news stories focusing on Garcia seem to hint that the correspondents are preparing us for the bad news come Sunday.

NY Times This Time, 80's Populist Sounds Capitalist Theme in Peru: "In an interview, Mr. García sounded like a convert to moderation. He had kind words for President George W. Bush, saying he hoped to work with him to create a hemisphere- wide free-trade zone and broaden the Plan Colombia anti-narcotics program across the Andean region with economic projects appropriate for Peru." Both Garcia and Toledo have shockingly simple lines on drug policy -- toe the Washington's line and milk it for all the assistance the U.S. Congress can give.

Tuesday, May 29

Confessions of a Stringer: A fresh installment in the series captures a brief moment in the Andes -- A Vision at Dawn. I have also added a page on presidential candidate Alejandro Toledo Special g c i 275 feature. It's not as thorough I might have liked, but time is running out.

Daily Review Preserving Peruvian history: "The first exportation of Peruvian Pasos to the United States was in the late 1950s and early 1960s. During the agrarian reform of the late 1960s, the Peruvian government dismantled horse farms, and some of the best horses were killed or eaten by starving peasants." For journalism students, this is an example of relying on one source who has a political angle to lay on the story. I have never heard of hungry peasants eating Pasos horses. They may have been hungry, not dumb -- they would have known you could sell a Pasos horse and buy several pigs. The main source was Juan Pardo, a trainer who was "kicked out of the country in 1969."

Boston Globe Race tightens in Peru election: "Apoyo said the gap in preferences had narrowed dramatically to three points - 41 percent for Toledo to 38 percent for Garcia in a soap opera election overshadowed by allegations of sleaze." This is going to be a nail-biter.

Financial Times OAS warns of Peru's political risks: "I don't think voters are going to give the next government a grace period," Mr Stein said. "They gave a grace period to the transition government (of Caretaker President Valentin Paniagua) but they are not ready to give it to the incoming government, because the way in which (the two presidential candidates) have behaved during the campaign has fallen short of expectations." No honeymoon for the next government.

Economist Intelligence Unit Presidential poll nears: "The greatest threat to a weak government is likely to come from the armed forces, which, although demoralised by recent corruption scandals, remains one of the few strong national institutions. Clean-ups in the armed forces and the judiciary, as well as continuing corruption probes and a promised truth commission to investigate past government abuses, will rile the military." Kuczynski has been talking to The Economist and provides details on the economic program.

Businessweek "None-of-the-Above" Is Running Strong: "Witness the long lines of visa-seekers that form each morning outside the foreign embassies. Unless the next President can convince Peruvians that politics do matter, they'll see no point in trying to save Peru. Better instead to save themselves." The elections next Sunday are shaping up to be a real cliffhanger.

Monday, May 28

Sunday Times Muckrakers drag Peru's poll into dirt: "Intellectuals might bemoan the distraction from more serious issues involving many social and economic woes, but such is the two candidates' capacity for digging up dirt on each other that one more worrying outcome of next Sunday's second-round election is a majority in favour of neither contender - and a continuation of the bewildering saga." Brit press looks down its nose at Peruvian election mess.

Sunday, May 27

NY Times Don't Try to Predict. This Is Peru.: "What makes Peru unique, and the fortunes of Mr. García a case in point, is its ability to astonish and its utter unpredictability. Changes in public opinion can be instantaneous; heroes become goats, or the other way around, within weeks or even days. This is a mark of weakness, not just in institutions, but in the political convictions of the people themselves." Correspondent Charles Krausse quotes psychoanalyst Max Hernandez, sociologist Guillermo Nugent, sociologist Sinesio Lopez and other sources to answer why Peru is such a perplexing society. Well-worth the read. This is an example of a journalist taking time out from breaking news stories to provide a more deep-think piece.

Saturday, May 26

Yahoo / AP Peru Candidate Is Hero to Indians: "Toledo's strongest backing comes from the 'cholos' - dark-skinned people like him, whose Indian ancestors migrated to Peru's coastal cities and towns over the past 40 years and gradually gave up their Andean customs. Most of them remain at the bottom of this Andean nation's social order." Somehow, some the reporting angles on the racism issue seem way over simplified. I'm sure that the quotes are there, but I always felt that racism was mutli-layered and nuances.

The Guardian / AP Peru to Establish Truth Commission: "The commission will aim to clarify the causes and responsibilities for the political violence that left 30,000 people dead and at least 4,000 missing, Justice Minister Diego Garcia Sayan told reporters Friday." Between Vladivideos and the Truth Commission, Peru is going to be awash in truth.

Friday, May 25

Yahoo / Reuters Land Mines a Deadly Reminder of Chile Military Past: "Between 1974 and 1978, Chile's army and navy dotted the sparsely populated, rugged terrain along its borders with Peru, Bolivia and Argentina with 293 minefields containing between 250,000 and 1 million anti-personnel and anti-tank land mines." The U.S. military considers land mines a vital part of its defense strategy and has refused to sign to Ottawa Convention.

Yahoo / PR Newswire Property acquisition & Uranium market update: "Strathmore Minerals Corp. is pleased to announce its acquisition of mineral rights on an additional six square kilometers of land in the Macusani-Chapi uranium district of southeastern Peru." Strathmore is adding 6 square kilometers to its current existing project on one square mile of land in Puno. The PR piece also applaudes the Bush Administration's renewed interest in nuclear power so Puno's prospects may actually be linked to Washington energy policy. I've been to Macusani and there's not much there but mountains and very little air (5,000 meters above sea level).

iWon / Reuters UPDATE 1-Peru eyes $400 mln investment in copper/gold deposit: "Privatization revenues -- targeted at around $600 million -- are vital to breach a budget deficit targeted at 1.5 percent this year. Analysts have said they expect that to be hard to reach as the government has slashed this year's growth goal to 1 to 2 percent of gross domestic product from 2 to 3 percent." Details about the government's goals of selling off mineral rights to investors.

NY Times Candidates in Peru's Presidential Race Peck at Fading Military: "But the humiliation of the officers has been deep. Interim President Valentín Paniagua and Congress have quietly cut the military budget by more than $300 million this year. Investigations are under way to determine the military's culpability in a series of massacres between 1980 and 1995 during the war against two terrorist insurgencies. The military has even been forced to accept the appointment of a human rights truth commission and the unearthing of several clandestine graves — two developments that would have been impossible just six months ago." How the armed forces absorb the blows and the Montesinos purges will set the tone for future military involvement in politics. Don't think that some factions within the military might lash out at this new civilian oversight.

Florida Times-Union / AP Miami financier gives credibility to favorite in Peru election 5/25/01: "'Kuczynski's presence on the economic team has definitely been positive for Toledo's campaign, at least for his relations with local investors and the international financial community,' said Federico Kaune, a Peruvian-born analyst with Goldman Sachs in New York." The question will be how much weight PPK will swing in a Toledo administration.

Thursday, May 24

Yahoo / Reuters Peru's Fujimori charged with "horrendous" murder: "Congresswoman Martha Chavez, one of Fujimori's staunchest supporters, told reporters that officers had told her they were 'pressured to blame Fujimori. They were even offered money'." Well, maybe somethings haven't changed in this post-Fujimori era.

Financial Times Peru's Fujimori 'charged with murder': "Peruvian radio and television reported that Nelly Calderon, the attorney general, had charged Mr Fujimori, who is now exiled in Japan, over his involvement in a 1991, massacre. Mr Fujimori allegedly went to National Intelligence Service headquarters on the day of the massacre 'to congratulate, decorate and arrange to pay the perpetrators for special services rendered in intelligence operations,' cable news Channel N and Radioprogramas del Peru reported." More details on Fujimori's involvement in the Barrios Altos massacre.

Yahoo / Reuters Fujimori Charged with 1991 Peru Murders, Media Say: "Radio and television reported that Attorney General Nelly Calderon wanted Fujimori to face murder charges over the killings in the Barrios Altos district of Lima. These would be the most serious charges brought against the disgraced former president." This accusation may be a stretch to prove in court.

Chicago Tribune Peru is protecting its `Lost World': "The Cordillera Azul had been so little explored that nobody knew what to expect when the expedition started. The scientists were richly rewarded, recording 1,600 plant species (out of an estimated 4,000 to 6,000 species thought to live in the area), including at least 12 species new to science. New species found Zoologists found 71 mammal species, including a new squirrel species. They recorded 500 bird species, including one new to science, and eight new species of frogs among 82 amphibian and reptile species. They found 10 new species of fish, including sucker-mouthed catfish that use their mouths to cling and climb steep rock surfaces in waterfalls." Fascinating story about an unexplored area of the Peruvian interior that has been saved as a national park.

Wednesday, May 23

EarthTimes Peru's masters of the land: "The ribereños follow the logic of maximizing the land they cultivate rather than clearing large areas done in single crop agriculture, says the study. The average size of land owned by a ribereño household is just 60 acres and made up of multiple patches of forest or agricultural fields. They typically create patches of open areas in the forests where they plant a wide variety of crops and medicinal products to sell at the market." Does it take a study to uncover the strategy of spreading your risk so common and Andean and Amazon cultures.

iWon / Reuters Language Barrier May Have Role in Peru Shootdown: "But a U.S. government official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, acknowledged that none of the Americans was fluent in Spanish and said he could not deny that a language barrier may have existed on board the surveillance flight." Hasn't the CIA heard of Berlitz?

Plans and schemes During the presidential debate this past weekend, Alan Garcia pulled a floppy disk out of his coat pocket and said that it contained his government program, contrasting this "modern" media with Alejandro Toledo's "antiquated" paper publications.

The gesture reminded me of when Garcia gave his inaugural speech before Congress in 1985. He announced a score of legislative initiatives and reforms. With each new measure, he held up thick folder and said that the respective bill was being presented to Congress for its attention. Great theatrics, but the folders actually contained only blank paper. They were just props.

One World / IPS Striking Farmers Demand Emergency Measures: "Reynaldo Trinidad, editor of 'Agro Noticias' magazine, accuses the government official of 'favouring importers with a policy that is detrimental to the producers of rice, sugar, maize, dairy products and meats.' Trinidad also points out that Amat y León did not enact the agreement reached in January between Paniagua and farmers, which establishes that Peru's armed forces, prisons and public hospitals would be supplied exclusively with domestically produced foods." Worth keeping an eye on this unrest because agriculture has been a weak link in government policy since the 1970s.

CNN / Reuters Peru ruins trace anthropological riddle in sand: "Anthropologists working at Caral believe the windswept ruins 14 miles from the Pacific will provide a glimpse of the birth of urban society in the Americas and may challenge theories that the earliest civilizations settled by the sea." More coverage of the first urban center in the Western Hemisphere. Keep on diggin'.

Yahoo / AP Peru Confirms Election Date: "Peru's election board has set June 3 as the date for a presidential runoff between front-runner Alejandro Toledo and former President Alan Garcia." It's final! At last!

Tuesday, May 22

Bergen County Record Teaneck man accused of attempting financial scam: "Percy O. Tamayo, 37, was arrested Monday after trying to draw $1.2 million on the letter, which the airline issued to GIA International of Grants Pass, Ore., for the jets, an FBI complaint said. In March, GIA assigned the letter to Tamayo, who had promised to finance the jets through his "vast financial interests," the complaint said." A change of pace on Peruvians living abroad.

Miami Herald From Kansas to Peru: Odyssey of a U.S. Andean spy jet: "More problematic for investigators who are supposed to deliver a report to President Bush is the apparent failure to coordinate the CIA flights with the Joint Inter-Agency Task Force, a Pentagon-led agency created to share intelligence and avert a tragedy like the one that occurred in the skies over the Amazon on April 20." Interesting details about the inter-agency arrangements for the surveillance flights. All the operation was part of an ultra-secret slush fund for US intelligence.

Lycos/ Reuters Peru election debate disappoints business leaders: "JP Morgan Monday also moved Peru to overweight from neutral -- suggesting investors should buy more Peruvian debt -- on the grounds that Toledo looked untouchable." Peruvians may be unenthusiastic about the candidates, but Wall Street is ready to bet on a winner.

Lycos / Reuters Peru Officer Claims Massacre Responsibility: "Martin Rivas is thought to have commanded the shadowy Grupo Colina death squad, which was allegedly formed by ex-president Alberto Fujimori's powerful spy chief, Vladimiro Montesinos, to combat rising attacks by Shining Path rebels in the 1990s." Rivas wants to give testimony before a Truth Commission.

NY Times Officials Long Debated Risks of Anti-Drug Patrol in Peru: "For a decade, Mr. Montesinos was Peru's Mr. Fix-It, and C.I.A. officials were convinced that American counternarcotics operations in the region could not continue without his support. Troubled by reports of his corruption and possible involvement in rights abuses, the Clinton administration reviewed the relationship with Mr. Montesinos in the mid- 1990's, but decided that his power to command Peruvian cooperation in the drug war trumped questions about his background."

Monday, May 21

Yahoo / AP Leader Puts Peru on Healthy Path: "His mandate was to provide clean elections, root out the corruption left by Fujimori's fugitive intelligence adviser, Vladimiro Montesinos, and guide the country until a new president could be elected and sworn in the following July. The difference is striking. In contrast to the years that Fujimori dominated Congress, the courts and most of Peruvian society, soft-spoken Paniagua has ruled by consensus and the law." Some critics say that Valetin Paniagua is too wishy-washy, which is why he has been able to glide through the last six months -- he doesn't take strong stands or confront entrenched interests. But then, those qualities were not in the job description of interim president.

Financial Times Peru rivals promise new jobs: "Mr Toledo said his 'Peru Posible' party believed in a market economy with a 'human face' - a Third Way' philosophy. Mr García, head of the traditionally left-wing APRA party, declared himself a believer in a "social market economy" which observers take to mean his government would be more interventionist. He has already promised to force down utility bills, cut the cost of medicines and offer greater protection to workers by supporting the trades unions." One thing that surprised me is that Garcia proposed more university education when there are so many college graduates currently out of work. Sendero used to point out the Ph.Ds selling matchboxes in the local market as proof that education would not love the employment problem, only revolution.

NY Times Peru Ex-President, Trailing, Links Election Foe to Cocaine Use: "In a televised debate on Saturday night, Mr. García said: 'Nobody has ever charged me with consuming cocaine. A consumer of cocaine cannot be the leader of a country.'" While Toledo has a police record, Garcia has no such blemish. But when Garcia was president, the bolas of Lima were full of reports of him riding a motorcycle in the dead of night, high on cocaine off to visit his Chilean querida (with whom he had a child out of wedlock). Of course, that may have been a way of trying to explain his erratic behavior.

NY Times New Yorker Has Low Hopes for New Peru Trial: "It was Ms. Berenson's involvement with the Salvadorans that forms a vital piece of the Peruvian government's case against her. How is it possible, judges and prosecutors have asked, that someone with her background in Central America could have rented a four- story house for nearly a year that was simultaneously used by the Túpac Amaru rebels as a terrorist base without suspecting what was going on." For the record.

Sunday, May 20

Garcia won what he wanted After watching the presidential debate over the Internet, I have concluded that Alan Garcia pulled his punches in a tactical decision to solidify his position as the leader of the "loyal opposition." Trailing Alejandro Toledo Special g c i 275 feature by 10-15 percentage points in the polls and with strong negatives, he threw the debate by being conciliatory and statesmanlike, except for a few jabs at Toledo's alleged use of cocaine. Toledo came across as credible and traded arguments and counterarguments with Garcia.

Garcia is shrewd. He knows that in order to get a "knockout blow" in the debate, he would have had to have taken some vicious, confrontational swings. There were plenty of holes in Toledo's policies to attack. This style would probably have ended up alienating more voters, increasing the number of blank votes. Instead, he scored brownie points for being magnanimous and democratic, calling Toledo by his first name repeatedly and pointing out agreements on key points.

Two weeks before the runoff, Garcia has achieved far more than he could have dreamed back in January when he set foot in Peru for the first time in eight years. He has become the leader of the opposition, has the second largest block in Congress Special g c i 275 feature - first round results and can play a key mediating role during a Toledo government, something that he will relish. He has also tapped a new electorate, the frustrated young urban sector that does not remember the disaster of his presidency Special g c i 275 feature.

In the hypothetical case that Garcia won, he would not have had the economic team to manage the government (Pedro Pablo Kuczynski vs Enrique Cornejo, please!). He would have been handicapped in Congress. He has few links to Lima and international elites, having burned so many bridges in the late 1980s and being in exile for most of the 1990s. Now he can rebuild APRA, pile up political chits and position himself for the next presidential race. He did not sit on Victor Raul Haya de la Torre's knee for nothing.

Chicago Sun Times Math teacher finds Amazon source: "The computer said Carhuasanta Creek, a rivulet that starts as a waterfall off the glacier, was at least 3,300 feet longer than any of the other creeks and therefore was the source of the Amazon." I knew the Polish immigarant this story is about when he was going down the Colca River in a kayak in the early 1980s.

Yahoo / Reuters Peru Candidates Score Draw in Electoral Debate: "Commentators had said centrist favorite Alejandro Toledo would probably maintain his lead in the polls -- now 10-15 points -- if he managed to parry leftist ex-President Alan Garcia in Saturday night's televised debate, the first in Peru since 1990. Even his critics hail Garcia as a superb orator." Reuters version of the debate -- no change in the rankings.

The Guardian / AP Peru Presidential Candidates Debate: "Public opinion analyst Giovana Penaflor called the debate 'practically a tie' and said it was unlikely to have a dramatic effect on the outcome of the vote." More instant reactions to the presidential debate.

BBC Peru election debate turns nasty: "Peru's two presidential candidates swapped insults in a television debate ahead of the June election, with former President Alan Garcia accusing his rival, Alejandro Toledo, of using cocaine." The debate was not as bad as this article made it out to be.

Washington Post Ancient History Imperiled in Peru: "A recession and record unemployment have led some residents to become professional relic scavengers. Only a portion of the wealth hidden in tombs across the coastal desert has been discovered. One piece of ancient pottery can fetch $50, more than a month's salary for day laborers, from black-market dealers who then sell the pieces for several times that price to Peruvian or foreign collectors." True, true.

Saturday, May 19

NY Times Week in Review In Latin America, Foes Aren't the Only Danger "Reality has shifted since then. Mr. Fujimori's government lasted less than four more months. It now appears clear that it was a mafia. Mr. Montesinos, the C.I.A.'s old interlocutor, fled into hiding after videotapes showed him as a corrupter of the highest rank. The commander of Peru's armed forces from 1992 to 2000, Gen. Nicolás Hermoza, now stands accused of working with drug smugglers and depositing $14.5 million in Swiss bank accounts." The article examines the strange bedfellows of US foreign policy.

Yahoo / AP Peru Announces Delayed First Round Vote Results: "Delays in counting the final 2 percent of April's ballot have put off by six weeks the announcement of a date for a runoff vote, now expected no earlier than June 3. Victory in the second round will go to whoever wins the most votes." The date for the runoff has not been set official.

Yahoo / AP Peru Mass Graves Investigated: "The graves, found earlier this week near the village of Totos, 205 miles southeast of Lima, hold the bodies of those slain in fighting between security forces and leftist guerrillas, said Rocio Vargas, a regional representative of Peru's ombudsman's office." Totos is located in Cangallo province in Ayacucho. For most of the 1980s and early 1990s, it was considered a zona roja (Sendero controlled area).

Friday, May 18

Presidential Debate Live Via Internet For those with a masochistic spirit, you will be able to watch the debate between Alejandro Toledo and Alan Garcia live via the Internet by tuning in to at 8:00 pm (Lima time) or 9:00 EST. You will need to have Real Player 8.0 to receive the feed (Spanish version and English version).

Please be advised that it is a long way from Peru to anywhere else on the Internet, and bandwidth may not be sufficient to cover the demand. But the broadcast is being underwritten by (Telefónica del Peru / Spanish telecom mega-company) which does have the power to plug it straight into the pipeline.

Other options are America TV for video and RPP for a sound feed. Also try 24Horas, which also has canned versions of Panorama and other TV news programs.

The Miami Herald Choice for Latin diplomat draws critics: "An independent report by the comptroller general in 1987 found that Reich's office engaged in 'prohibited, covert propaganda activities' at a time when administration officials were secretly arming Contra rebels in Nicaragua, violating a congressional ban on such activities. Reich was never charged with wrongdoing, and he was ambassador to Venezuela when the Iran-Contra scandal erupted." Otto Reich, 55, is going to stir up a lot of dust on Capital Hill before his nomination as the US pointman for the Americas gets approved by the Senate. With Jesse Helms on his side, there's little doubt he'll make it through. This article is a thorough analysis of the two sides.

Christian Science Monitor The search for authenticity: "This memoir is the fruit of her struggle to make sense of that dual identity - to place herself and her family in the larger context of the politics, history, sociology, and even geology of the Americas, north and south. An engaging family history, the book also offers an extraordinarily candid portrait of her parents' unconventional marriage. She turns it into a metaphor for a joining of North and South America." Marie Arana, a Washington Post book editor, wrote An American Chica about her dual heritage from Peru and the States. I'll have to get the book for my kids. She also had a review in the International Herald Tribune, actually a reprint of an article that originally appeared in the Post.

NY Times Peruvian Runoff Quandary: Both Candidates Lose Favor: "The damage was magnified when Horacio Estrabridis, a psychiatrist who once treated Mr. García, gave a graphic interview on television. He said that during Mr. García's outpatient recovery more than 20 years ago he told family members that the political leader should take lithium whenever he displayed manic behavior such as 'insomnia, erratic mood changes or excessive anxiety.'" Garcia has admited that he was treated for depression in 1979, but said nothing about his manic episodes during his 1985-90 term in office.

Lycos / Reuters Peru's Montesinos to Mark Birthday As Fugitive: "With a $5 million price on his head, Montesinos is wanted on 61 charges in 31 cases ranging from arms and drugs deals to running death squads." There is absolutely nothing new in this news feature, but I couldn't resist linking to it. It's been a slow week.

Financial Times Peruvian rivals struggle to gain voters’ trust: "The orchestrated television debate will pit the eloquent Mr García against the combative Mr Toledo. Mr García is hoping his skills as an orator will re-galvanise his campaign. He has the physical advantage of being several inches taller than his rival, who may stand on a stool to restore parity." The showdown will be on Saturday -- tomorrow. The candidates will also have to parry the questions of a trio of journalists.

Peruvian Elections Results I have put together a table with the general election results, including valid, null and blank votes and absenteeism, according to the figures provided by the Oficina Nacional de Procesos Electorales.

One of the most striking characteristics that jumps out is the sharp drop off between presidential and congressional votes. It may be partially due to a more complicated ballot for congressional races, but it also probably stems from distrust of the political class. Null votes jumped by a million and another million voters did not bother to vote in the congressional races at all. Another million -- or 10 percent of valid votes -- cast blank ballots. Portents of the presidential run-offs.

Thursday, May 17

Better Use of Site Features After reading Jacob Nielsen's latest article about searching on websites, I have taken his advice to heart and shifted from a search link to a real, live search box at the bottom of each page. Due to the current design, I don't have the flexibility to put it at the top of the page, but it should be a little easier to find and use.

Financial Times Young Peruvians look to the capital for brighter prospects: "But while private-sector development projects are broadly seen as a step forward, Antamina concedes they are no substitute for central government aid. To try and boost the government's contribution, it is backing a proposal to alter the law so that 20 per cent of all taxes paid by mining companies would go directly to the local communities affected by mining." The town of Huallanca gets the equivalent of $0.50 a month per inhabitant from the central government to provide services.

Christian Science Monitor Peru plays "catch the vanishing spymaster": "In Peru, where "Vladigame" went on the market last week, Montesinos represents a decade of decay. As Peruvians prepare to vote in an expected June presidential runoff, the new computer amusement lets them blast the preceding corrupt administration and send Montesinos, formerly head of SIN, the aptly named Peruvian secret police organization, to prison." If you are going to suffer through the Fujimori-Montesinos debacle, you might as well make a computer game out of it.

Wednesday, May 16

An Evening of Discovery I had a really enjoyable session on the Web this evening. I pumped into Writing on the Palm, written by novelist Jeff Kirvin. He has some really interesting ideas about using personal data assistants (PDAs) for writing, outlining, brainstorming and creativity. I've been intrigued by outlining software since the mid-1980s. Although getting organized and writing creatively are not necessarily the same thing, I did find combining them helped me process a lot of disperse informaton. Kirvin also has some compelling arguments for electronic publishing. He has a weekly column that he has sustained 18 months. Some thought provoking stuff.

I have used Inspiration for barnstorming the past six months, and I'm now exploring some of the options mentioned by Kirvin, including Progect and WordSmith, two products for the Palm OS. Bending these tools with Kirvin's ideas has got me smoking.

Jump to the Politics and Violence section I have appropriated a segment of a Huaman Poma de Ayala drawing as the signature graphic for Peruvian Graffiti. I have been looking for ways to incorporate more of his drawings in the site, but I've got a back log of photos and other graphics that I have yet to write the content that goes around them.

Yahoo / AP Peru Explosion Hits Downtown Lima: "Police recovered pamphlets left in a backpack bearing the symbol of a red hammer and sickle and proclaiming 'Long live the popular revolution' and 'Long live President Gonzalo,' Canal N and CPN radio reported." Sendero back to its old tricks? In any case, it was a small trick, just a shoulder bag with low-impact explosives.

Tuesday, May 15

Yahoo / AP Berenson Sentence Expected in May: "Judge Marcos Ibazeta told The Associated Press that he expects to have a verdict by the end of the month. The only foreseeable delay, he said, would be if Peru's Supreme Court overrules the trial court's decision to throw out a defense motion demanding that Ibazeta remove himself from hearing the case." No comment.

NY Times Mummies Found in Peru May Shed Light on Pre-Inca People: "Archaeologists said radiocarbon dating of fibers in the mummy wrappings indicated that the bodies were entombed in the cliffside caves in the 11th and 12th centuries A.D. Since that is three or four centuries before the powerful Inca moved into the region, the burials and grave goods appeared to reflect Chachapoya customs before they could be modified by their Inca conquerors." For those with access to the History Channel, there will be a two part-program starting today (Tuesday) at 9:00 Pm EST.

Financial Times Peru's fragile business confidence: "At least one multinational told the Financial Times that an investment worth hundreds of millions of dollars could be delayed by the outcome of the presidential vote. The company will study the new government's plan of action before making a decision. US companies alone have around $3bn-$4bn of assets tied up in Peru." Unfortunately, this cautious pessimism has been the standard business attitude of the past 50 years, unless you happen to be in the middle of a scam and need to make all the profits you can in the short term.

Monday, May 14

Yahoo / Reuters Peruvian Novelists Sued Over 'Vote Blank' Campaign: "They (the plaintiffs) said it violated an article in the penal code that calls for one to four years in jail for anyone seeking to sway or buy votes, and are seeking $1 million 'civil damages' which they plan to give to charity. Neither the plaintiffs nor the prosecutor could immediately be reached for comment." Jaime Bayly and Alvaro Vargas Llosa are pure showboaters who love this kind of game.

The Guardian / AP Toledo Ahead of Garcia in Peru Poll: "The poll by independent firm Apoyo gave 35 percent to Toledo and 25 percent to Garcia, who ended his 1985-90 administration with Peru in economic ruin." The presidential debate this week will probably seal the trends in the runoff campaign.

Sunday, May 13

Yahoo / Reuters Attorney: Montesinos May Have Moved to Colombia: "Ugaz said 530 people were now under investigation as part of what he calls Montesinos' 'mafia.' Fifty people -- including top generals and former ministers -- were behind bars."

Saturday, May 12

BBC Peru judges dismissed: "The president of the Peruvian Supreme Court and nine other top judges have been removed from their posts for alleged links with the fugitive former intelligence chief, Vladimiro Montesinos." More heads fall: 9 Supreme Court justices, 6 Superior Court justices, 7 prosecutors, 26 in all.

Friday, May 11

AriannaOnlineThe Drug War Goes Private: "It's a political twist on the old philosophical conundrum: If Americans are blown to pieces in a South American forest but no one hears about it, did they really die? And if they did, would it lead to a privatized Gulf of Tonkin incident?" More hard questions about US anti-narcotics policy.

CNN / Reuters Toledo's message to Peru: Wake up to change: "But Toledo, fired by a growing lead in opinion polls, is aggressively pushing his message -- backed by an anti-Alan Garcia television advertising campaign -- that a vote for the former president is a vote for a return to hyperinflation, a debt crisis and daily food lines that marked Garcia's 1985-90 government." Toledo seems to have a knack for negative campaigning, but running the country is going to require other skills.

Thursday, May 10

Planet Ark Peru says residents to decide on Tambogrande mine: "Plans by Canada's Manhattan Minerals Corp. to develop the copper-rich deposit, at an estimated cost of $270 million, came up against violent protests from local residents in February who fear it could contaminate local agriculture, the mainstay of the regional economy." The Piura bishop has also gotten involved in mediating a solution to the dispute.

Planet Ark Peru says residents to decide on Tambogrande mine: "Plans by Canada's Manhattan Minerals Corp. to develop the copper-rich deposit, at an estimated cost of $270 million, came up against violent protests from local residents in February who fear it could contaminate local agriculture, the mainstay of the regional economy." The Piura bishop has also gotten involved in mediating a solution to the dispute.

iWon / Reuters Peru lauches new debt market to help small businesses: "The market, inaugurated by interim Economy Minister Javier Silva Ruete, allows small businesses to gain access to capital by trading promissory notes from clients as if they were bonds." Silva Ruete expects volume of $600 million a year eventually, but it's doubtful that the real "small" business will have access to this market.

UKiNvest Presidential run-off looms: "Analysts said that whoever wins the runoff in the Presidential race will be burdened with a divided Congress and have to seek out alliances to govern, forcing Peru's most centrist political parties to reach accords on everything, including budgets and tax programs to push through reforms essential to help the struggling economy over the next five years." A good run-down of the latest economic and business news, with a glance at the implication of the presidential runoff. Not as much hand-wringing about bad candidates as other reports.

A Glimpse at Times Past In our continuing efforts to resurrect Peru's collective memory, we are republishing a short piece, Garcia faces the military, that originally appeared in The Times of London in July 1986. It's about Sendero's prison mutiny and the slaughter that ensued. Garcia waffled in the crisis and let the military take over and then never made the top brass responsible for their actions.

Wednesday, May 9

The Irish Times Visitors most likely to become ill in Peru: "Peru topped the table for travellers who became ill, with two thirds suffering some sort of illness." It has to be more than the water.

Yahoo / Reuters Report: Peru's Fujimori Paid Aide $15 Million to Go: "Fujimori allegedly authorized the cash via a special decree, a copy of which El Comercio printed. La Republica said the $15 million was $1.5 million a year compensation for Montesinos' 10 years service as Fujimori's top aide -- a position he used to manipulate Peru's courts, Congress, media and military."

NY Times A Hard Choice in Peru: "The international media has paid scant attention to the ongoing reconstruction in Peru. Yet this process may be critical to laying the foundation for democracy no matter who wins next month's election. Rather than wringing its hands over the return of Mr. Garcia, the international community should support this effort. If it fails, Peruvian democracy will remain vulnerable to corrupt and irresponsible leaders. If it succeeds, democracy will have a chance to survive in spite of them." (Registration required) The Paniagua administration has been able to be constructive, in part, because expectations and political pressures were low.

Washington Post U.S. Allies In Drug War In Disgrace: "But a purge underway here since Fujimori's disgrace has shown that many of the people the United States worked with most closely to accomplish its goals -- especially in the drug war -- appear to have been working both sides of the street, forming a network of corruption right under the noses of their U.S. partners. For many Peruvians, this has raised the question whether U.S. officials working here were duped or just averted their gaze." 70 military and intelligence officials with criminal charges pending. You mean, this stuff did not show up in the satellite imagery?

Tuesday, May 8

A Touch of Poetry I have added a translation of Antonio Cisnernos's poem, On the Commonplace. Enjoy.

Yahoo / AP Peru Presidential Debate Planned: "The latest national survey from pollster Datum Internacional showed Toledo with 39 percent support, compared with 26 percent for Garcia. The number of undecided voters - or those who said they would cast blank or spoiled ballots in protest - has reached 35 percent. The poll surveyed 2,016 eligible voters nationwide and had a margin of error of 2.2 percentage points." The first real debate between presidential candidates since the campaign started.

Los Angeles Times Conviction Said Likely Peru Trial: "During Monday's proceedings, Berenson rolled her eyes as the court replayed TV news coverage of her arrest and her statement to reporters. She later conceded her attitude during the 1996 declaration may have been excessive, but argued, 'I don't think that represents what I think or who I am.'" Lori Berenson is already conceding that she will be found guilty. She also says that she won't compromise her principles in order to improve her chances of acquittal.

Monday, May 7

Washington Post The Underground Military: "After the missionary plane shootdown in Peru, government spokesmen and CIA officials were quick to justify their counterdrug arrangements ("vital," "working," blah, blah blah). Their explanations revealed not only a labyrinth at Iquitos but at least a dozen additional officially non-existent air bases, radars, command centers, and who knows what extending from Honduras and El Salvador down to Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, and Columbia and back north to Curacao, Puerto Rico, and the Bahamas." The analysis looks at what the shootdown of the missionary plane revealed about the U.S. military presence in the region and worldwide.

Yahoo / Reuters Resigned Berenson Says Peru Retrial 'Awful': "Asked how the trial was going, Berenson spat: 'Awful. I guess I couldn't imagine the judge was going to be prosecutor, court and state at the same time,' she said." Judges play a more proactive role in the Peruvian court system.

Sunday, May 6

E-mail Virus Warning Now Circulating in Peru: Warning!!!!!!!!! If you receive an e-mail that has "APRA" in the subject line, do not open it. It contains the poweful "Alan" virus that has already erased the memory of half the Peruvians. Spread the word.

To help recover some of that collective memory, I have resurrected two articles about Alan Garcia's attempted nationalization of the banking system, July 29 and July 30, 1987. More will be coming. You can also check out my Alan Garcia Special g c i 275 feature page.

BBC Mass graves found in Peru: "According to Silvio Campana, the ombudsman for the southern city of Cusco, the village was taken over by the armed forces and used as a base during their fight against leftist rebels during the 80s and 90s. Residents, who returned to the village after years away, unearthed the graves." More details about four mass graves in Abancay.

Saturday, May 5

The Guardian / AP Authorities Probe Peru Mass Grave: "Residents of Capaya, a tiny community that was caught in the crossfire between rebels and soldiers, say they found the grave more than three years ago on the grounds of a former military encampment when they began digging to expand the hamlet's church." Abancay starts to reveal its secrets. When will other communities come forward with their hidden graves and nightmares.

Friday, May 4

Yahoo / AP Some Peruvian's Fear Garcia Return: "Polls show Garcia trailing Toledo by about 10 percentage points, but nearly a third of those questioned say they are either undecided or are considering casting spoiled or blank ballots. The vote likely will be held in early June." If Fujimori were still around, he would milk this disgust for the political class to get elected for a fourth time.

Yahoo / Reuters Protest Vote Moves Into Second Place in Peru Polls: "Analysts say the rise in protest votes is hardly surprising. Toledo is dogged by allegations of sleaze, and Garcia has long been overshadowed by corruption allegations and the legacy of his economically calamitous 1985-1990 government, which turned Peru into an international financial pariah." Jaime Bayly and Alvaro Vargas Llosa have struck a nerve with the protest vote, but it does not solve any of Peru's problems. Peru hit with FIFA punishment: "The punishment stems from trouble prior to Peru's World Cup clash with Chile in Lima last March when Peruvian hooligans welcomed the Chilean delegation with rocks, eggs, tomatoes, and anything else within easy reach of their hands." Sounds like the Peruvian got off lightly for trashing the Chilean bus to the stadium.

The Guardian / AP Downed US Plane Inspected in Peru: "A U.S. delegation, led by Assistant Secretary of State Rand Beers and accompanied by at least four Peruvian air force officers, spent 40 minutes examining the single-engine Cessna, which a Peruvian air force jet mistook for a drug smuggling flight and shot down on April 20." 38 planes shot down and another 64 forced to land, of which 42 carried cocaine or coca paste.

CBS News Cash Clouds Peru's Past, Future: "Toledo, a centrist free-marketeer finished first in the April 8 elections but was forced into a runoff, expected on June 3, by leftist ex-President Alan Garcia. — He currently leads Garcia by up to 10 points in nationwide opinion polls." This story, drawing on material from Reuters and AP, mixes the claim that Fujimori escaped with gold bullion and the status of the presidential run-off campaign.

The Guardian / AP Peru Court Won't Remove Judge: "The three-judge panel said Lori Berenson's attorney should have made his motion within the first three days of the trial, which started six weeks ago." Lori Berenson's lawyer will appeal to the Supreme Court.

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