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Saturday, June 30

Nature Culture rained off: "Now Peru's coast is strongly affected by El Niño events, which bring torrential rainfall. Such floods would not have occurred before 5,800 years ago. That's when El Niño events started, Sandweiss' team point out. The coincidence of the onset of El Niño with the building of the first temples implies that wetter episodes might have made agriculture possible, and so helped to nurture a civilization." Gives Rain Day a new meaning.

The Guardian / AP Peru Earthquake Devastates Area: "One week later, the aftershocks are less frequent, but the nightmares continue for residents of Moquegua, where 21 people died and 80 percent of the buildings were damaged or destroyed." Assistance has not met all the demand.

iWon / Reuters Peru's Toledo urges Telefonica to cut prices: "Peru's President-elect Alejandro Toledo said he would ask executives at Spanish telecoms group Telefonica later on Friday to cut tariffs in his country and develop programs to help poorer customers. The Peruvian government said last Friday it would ask Telefonica to explain recent rate rises of up to 80 percent." During the campaign, Garcia found utility prices to be a potent issue.

The Guardian / AP Peru's Montesinos on Hunger Strike: "Montesinos, 56, had not eaten since Thursday and would continue the strike until he was moved to a civilian prison because he does not belong among terrorists, Becerra told Peru's Channel 4 television." I thought hunger strikes were reserved for people the likes of Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King, not thugs.

Friday, June 29

Pacific News Jaded Peruvians Wonder if New Indian President can Save U.S. from Culture of Cynicism: "The only rulers that all Peruvians, regardless of race, look up to are those from the ancient Incan civilization who were decimated and then enslaved by the Spanish conquistadores. And this is the image Toledo wraps himself in as he dons ancient Indian garb and posters show him with Incan warrior Pachacutec as his patron saint. In this way, he contrasts himself with Francisco Pizarro, Peru's conquistador, who, by betraying the Incas set the stage for a spirit of greed. This spirit seems to have taken residence in the government palace that he built during colonial times and has been the home of Peruvian presidents ever since." Andres Tapia speaks about being Peruvian on the edge of the 21st century.

Financial Times Venezuela and Peru break ties over spy capture : "Still, a host of questions remain to be answered, including who was protecting Mr Montesinos during his six-month stay in Venezuela, and to what extent, if any, he had contact with members of the government. Mr Montesinos has reportedly claimed to have breakfasted with President Chávez shortly before being deported to Peru last Sunday." The temper tantrums on both sides point to this feud brewing for months as Montesinos hid out in Caracas.

BBC Peru recalls Venezuela ambassador: "On Thursday, FBI spokesman, Wayne Russell, said: 'It's the FBI's opinion, as well as the Peruvian Government's, that Mr Montesinos was being kept in Venezuelan territory, and it is also our belief that the Venezuelans were aware of that fact long before his arrest.'" Tit for tat.

The Guardian / AP Peru Sets Sights on Exiled Fujimori: "Human rights groups say that if Fujimori is shown to have been responsible for death squad activity or other crimes against humanity, Japan - as a signatory of the International Convention against Torture - would be obligated to bring him to trial. "

Yahoo / Reuters Venezuela withdraws Peru envoy over Montesinos: "The outspoken leftist leader said an 'international conspiracy' was trying to manipulate Montesinos' capture on Saturday in Caracas to tarnish his government as 'criminals' who had long been sheltering Latin America's most wanted man." Actually, the conflicting versions made Chavez look like a fool who was on the take from Montesinos.

Yahoo / AP Berenson's Parents Seek Support: "Neither Bush nor Powell pushed for a pardon or amnesty in the case, and U.S. officials have stopped short of saying that the jailed American is innocent. Mark Berenson said Thursday that distinction did not bother him. 'They did not have legal experts monitoring the trial,' he said. 'I understand that they have to be diplomatic.'"

Thursday, June 28

Christian Science Monitor Peru puts past behind bars: "Peruvian authorities discounted the possibility that Montesinos would be able to negotiate the terms of his imprisonment in exchange for divulging information. 'Mr. Montesinos is just another accused. He has all the rights of any other defendant ... but no special privileges,' interim President Valentín Paniagua says. 'The government has nothing to negotiate with him.'"

Financial Times Peru reveals details of Montesinos capture: "Diplomats said on Thursday that Mr Ketín Vidal's account of the joint Peruvian-FBI operation has cast a long shadow over the credibility of not only the official Venezuelan version of events, but also the government of Mr Chavez. 'With the Peruvian account so coherent and the Venezuelan explanation so faulty, I can't see many other governments trusting Chavez as a result of this,' said one Latin American diplomat. Mr Chávez has described the arrest as a 'happy coincidence'." Curiouser and curiouser.

AlertNet Peruvian Red Cross - 122 years of quakes and crises: "We don't have a good communications network, because some areas are completely cut off or else the telephone services are saturated. Luckily a team of five French volunteers from Comunicaciones sin Fronteras has arrived, and they are travelling to Arequipa with assessment teams headed for different zones." Interview of Edgardo Calderón, president of the Peruvian Red Cross.

NY Times Fujimori Is Wined and Dined by Tokyo's Powerful John Nathan, a professor of Japanese culture at the University of California at Santa Barbara, said that for many Japanese, especially 'this group of wealthy, patriotic, nationalistic men who support him, Fujimori is kind of a folk hero, a source of considerable pride, at a time when Japan is searching its own identity.'" Fujimori has powerful friends in Japan.

Yahoo / Reuters Peru's spy chief transferred to top security jail: "Montesinos joins six top guerrillas he helped put at Callao including Abimael Guzman, legendary leader of the feared Maoist rebel group Shining Path and Victor Polay, head of the smaller Marxist Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement (MRTA)." All the inmates will be able to talk about the good ol' days.

Wednesday, June 27

Yahoo / AP U.S. Seeks Quick Berenson Appeal: "The United States will say it hopes Lori Berenson (news - web sites)'s appeal will be heard soon in Peru. It will say that humanitarian considerations should be taken into account. What it hasn't said - and won't say - is that Berenson is innocent of charges that she collaborated with leftist guerrillas.Former U.S. officials say they aren't sure she is innocent. 'I don't know how anybody could look at the evidence and arrive at a different conclusion than she knew more than she's admitting to,' said Dennis Jett, U.S. ambassador to Lima from 1996-1999." Finally, a story out of Washington about Berenson that actually acknowledges that she was probably implicated in MRTA activities. The reporter is going to get transferred to Topeka, KA.

Yahoo / Reuters Congressmen Seek Clemency for Berenson in Peru: "Both at the White House and the State Department, Toledo was told that the Berenson case will remain a 'permanent' issue in ties with the United States." What is happening in the world -- Washington powerbrokers, Democrats and Republics, rallying behind a young idealistic woman who wanted to empower the poor.

FinancialWeb SPCC Hit by Peru Earthquake: "The company said copper production resumed on Monday, but the supply of energy and other materials to facilities was limited by damage to the company's energy supplier Enersur SA. The company added its railroad was "severely" damaged by the quake." Southern Peru is the economic dynamo of that part of Peru.

LA Times Venezuela, Peru Feud Over Spymaster's Arrest: "Venezuela's interior minister held a lengthy news conference early Tuesday to categorically deny that Peru or the United States had played any role in Montesinos' arrest Saturday night in a slum within sight of the presidential palace in Caracas, Venezuela's capital. 'I must declare that in no moment, under no circumstances, was there the slightest participation of any foreign police,' Interior Minister Luis Miquilena said. 'This was work strictly done by Venezuelan police.'" Dueling interior ministers.

BBC No deal with Montesinos: "But Justice Minister Diego Garcia Sayan, told the BBC that if Mr Montesinos had any evidence of corruption, he should hand it over to the six anti-corruption judges in charge of his case." Montesinos is going to use whatever leverage he has left to get a deal. It may include incriminating Fujimori.

iWon / Reuters IMF says to start talks with Peru next week: "Peru signed a $166 million standby loan with the IMF in March to support economic reforms and ensure economic stability in the run up to the election. Earlier this month, interim Economy Minister Javier Silva Reute asked the IMF to send a team to Peru in order to discuss a possible easing of the country's debt servicing load." It's going to take several rounds of talks to work out the kinks in Peru's payment schedule. Fujimori backloaded it.

CNN / Reuters Peru's ex-spy chief said ready to tell all: "Judicial sources have quoted Montesinos as telling judges that Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez knew where he was, and that he negotiated the terms of his handover with him." Starting at the top.

University Science News Peruvian Area Has More Mammal Species Than Any Other: "A remote area defined by three large rivers appears to harbor more species of mammals than anywhere else on Earth, according to research by the University of Florida and other institutions. That area lies in the rainforests of northeastern Peru." 86 species, from tiny oppossums to 6-foot otters, not counting bats.

The Guardian Peru Ex-Spy Chief Offers Videotapes: "Peru Monitor, a Lima-based English-language monthly newsletter, reported Wednesday that Montesinos - in handcuffs and wearing a bulletproof vest - said to anti-corruption Judge Magaly Basones, "Do you want to see more videos? I've got 30,000.'" Can you imagine how long it would take to sort through all those videotapes? Death Toll Rises as Aftershocks Rock Peru: "Meanwhile, aftershocks add to the woes of quake survivors. A magnitude-5.7 quake was recorded Tuesday morning, according to the Earth Sciences Observatory in Strasbourg, France. Observatory spokeswoman Christiane Nicoli described the aftershock as "very big" and warned others could follow."

Tuesday, June 26

Washington Post Montesinos Key Figure in Peru's Pursuit of Truth: "Susana Villaran, minister of women and human development and a key figure behind the Truth Commission, said civic groups surveyed before the panel was created found that 76 percent of those interviewed want the commission to identify those responsible for specific crimes. Almost as many also want the panel to award financial compensation to victims." The Commission is going to have to drill down through several strata of lies, mis-information and deception.

Yahoo / Reuters Venezuela, U.S. Squabble Over Montesinos Glory "Venezuela said instead its own military intelligence swooped to arrest Latin America's most wanted man after a 'secret agent' infiltrated the group sheltering him." This squabble is getting inventive.

The Guardian Peru Tackles Charges Against Ex-Spy: "'At no moment and under no circumstance did I get the least participation from any foreign agency,' [Interior Minister Luis] Miquilena said, challenging the FBI and Peru's government to prove their participation in the capture." Venezuela wants all the credit for itself.

Washington File Colin Powell Meeting with Peru's President-Elect Toledo: "First of all, the Secretary congratulated him on the election and on the process that Peru has gone through. Prime Minister Perez de Cuellar was at the meeting as well. And much of the discussion was how to make the political democracy that Peru has achieved -- how to help consolidate that with economic democracy or rule of economic law, you might say as well, to get the benefits of openness and free markets available to the people of Peru to help them overcome the problems there."

NewsRe / AP
Peruvians Try to Rebuild After Quake
: "After reviewing data on the temblor, geophysicists at the U.S. Geological Survey in Golden, Colo., upgraded the quake's magnitude from 7.9 to 8.1, qualifying the temblor as 'great' - the highest grade for earthquakes. 'Had this happened in a more populated area the damage would been worse,' said Waverly Person, a geophysicist at the U.S. National Earthquake Information Center."

NY Daily News New Peru Prez Won't Help Lori: "Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) and former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark joined Mark and Rhoda Berenson to call on Peruvian President Valentin Paniagua to free their daughter before he steps down in July." Fat chance.

The Guardian / AP Peru's Toledo Seeks U.S. Investments: "Toledo was in Washington for talks with Secretary of State Colin Powell and other officials, heads of international lending organizations and executives with mining and other investments in Peru. After signing a two-part $150 million loan agreement with the World Bank, where he once worked as an economist, Toledo met at the White House with national security adviser Condoleezza Rice. President Bush stopped by the meeting." Contacts with the Bush Administration are much easier now than they will be after Toledo is sworn in as president.

iWon / Reuters Flute-playing banker to be Peru economy minister "'His greatest vulnerability is to have been too distant from Peru for a long time,' said Jorge Chavez, head of private consultancy Maximixe and a former central bank governor." The internal politics may be more daunting than making Wall Street happy.

iWon / Reuters Peru's Kuczynski to be new econ minister, says "honored": "Toledo said he would name the remainder of his cabinet a couple of days before he was sworn in. Kuczynski, seen as a guarantee of fiscal prudence, was the market favorite." PPK transitions into power.

LA Times Ex-Spy Chief Back in Peru as Prisoner: "Peruvian officials said Montesinos' upcoming trials will be a first step to heal a country shaken by revelations that the spymaster used bribes and threats to control a seemingly endless array of officials in the country's courts, Congress, military and media." More than healing, the trails will be a settling of scores.

NY Times Former Spy Chief Returned to Peru to Face Charges: "Peruvian and American law enforcement agencies and diplomats worked closely to bypass the Venezuelan government, which officials said they believed had been protecting Mr. Montesinos all along." There is a common thread to most major stories on the capture -- neither the Peruvians or the Americans trusted the Venezuelan government to hunt down Montesinos.

Washington Post The Stakeout That Snared a Spy: "Peruvian authorities were to make the arrest, they said, but Montesinos's Venezuelan body guards turned him over to Venezuelan intelligence agents at the last minute, taking Montesinos into custody before the Peruvians could act. With Montesinos in Venezuelan custody, a U.S. official said, Peruvian Interior Minister Antonio Ketin Vidal flew to Caracas on Sunday to arrange the turnover. In the end, officials in Caracas carried out repeated promises from Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez that Montesinos would be turned over immediately if he were caught in Venezuela." Fascinating account of how Montesinos was captured. F.B.I = good guys. Venezuelan authorities = questionable behavior

Monday, June 25

The Times Dozens die as earthquake hits Peru's historic cities: "Known as the White City because its Spanish colonial buildings and churches were built of sillar, a pearly white volcanic material, the historic town suffered the heaviest damage. The cathedral has lost one of its towers and the other was close to collapse. The Santa Catalina convent, which opened to the public in 1970 after four centuries of cloistered use by 400 nuns, suffered irreparable damage."

Yahoo / AP Toledo Won't Consider Berenson Case: "'This was open. I'm not a judge, nor am I a lawyer, and I am respectful of the independence of the institutions,' Toledo told reporters in New York. 'I am not in a position to interfere or to make a judgment about a given case.'" Neither Paniagua or Toledo have any reason to intervene while there is still an appeal process going on.

Financial Times Tables turn on Peru's disgraced spymaster: "'Fujimori must be equally or more worried than Vladimiro Montesinos at this moment,' said Diego Garcia Sayan, the justice minister. 'We are hopeful that Montesinos has information that will clarify Fujimori's role.' Japan insisted on Monday it would not extradite Mr Fujimori, Bryan Shih writes from Tokyo. 'Our stance that we will deal with President Fujimori according to domestic laws remains unchanged,' said Shinzo Abe, deputy cabinet secretary."

Financial Times Montesinos arrives back in Peru to uncertain future: "Mr Garcia Sayan had earlier suggested that maximum security cells built within the Callao Naval Base to house Peru´s top guerrillas would be the most appropriate - possibly the only - place to keep Mr Montesinos safe from either a rescue or an assassination attempt." In his press conference, Javier Perez de Cuellar blows kisses to the F.B.I. and pulls his punches with Venezuela.

Lycos / Reuters Peru's Ex-Spy Chief Grins on Way to Jail: "'It's my turn to lose,' La Republica newspaper quoted Montesinos as telling Interior Minister Antonio Ketin Vidal when he was handed over. His words echoed those of Peru's then most wanted man, Shining Path rebel leader Abimael Guzman, when he was caught by Ketin Vidal in 1992." Vidal and Montesinos were rivals during the early years of the Fujimori administration until Montesinos gains dominance.

Lycos / Reuters Berenson Confident About Being Freed Before 2015 "'I was not expecting 20 years. I thought they weren't going to use the anti-terrorism laws,' said Berenson, referring to Peru's set of special laws for 'terrorism' cases. She had expected a sentence of 15 to 18 years, she added. Berenson's first two years in jail were spent at the freezing Yanamayo prison 12,700 feet above sea level, but because of ailments like swollen joints and stomach problems, she was moved out of the Andean prison to Arequipa in 1998 and to Lima in 2000." Since the severe anti-terrorism laws are still on the books, they have to be applied by the courts.

Miami Herald / AP Deported fugitive Peruvian spymaster lands in Peru: "Suspicious neighbors and people whom Montesinos had hired tipped off police to the Peruvian's whereabouts, Chavez said. Agents moved in when it appeared Montesinos was about to leave." Venezuela's version of the capture differs from the Peruvian and US versiions, which give some credit to the F.B.I.

Yahoo / Reuters Ravaged Peru picks up pieces after major quake: "Some 80 percent of buildings in Moquegua were reported damaged or destroyed. Soldiers shovelled rubble while residents lined up belongings on streets blocked by debris. As night fell on Sunday, people set up makeshift tents or slept in parks and schools." A tidal wave killed 20 and another 20 missing in Camana.

Swiss Info Switzerland working closely with Peru over Montesinos: "The Swiss justice ministry said it was studying a new request for assistance received from Peru on Friday. The country has sent at least four previous requests for legal assistance in connection with the Montesinos affair. In response to earlier requests, the Swiss authorities have frozen a total of $110 million (SFr194 million) in bank accounts held in Zurich, Geneva and Lugano." This collaboration will take on greater importance during Montesinos's trial.

BBC Fugitive spy chief back in Peru: "A Peruvian military aircraft flying him to Lima touched down in Peru's northern city of Iquitos on Monday, after Mr Montesinos was captured in the Venezuelan capital, Caracas." The page also contains audio files (RealPlayer) with reporting from BBC reporters and commentators.

Sunday, June 24

Washington Post Peruvian Ex-Spy Chief Detained in Venezuela: "Interior Minister Antonio Ketin Vidal, who arrested Shining Path guerrilla leader Abimael Guzman in 1992, effectively ending a violent insurgency, headed a team of more than 80 commandos searching for Montesinos. Vidal, who left for Caracas today to arrange for Montesinos's return, thanked the FBI for its help, which he did not describe in detail." Montesinos was apparently hiding out in Caracas.

NY Times Former Spy Chief of Peru Captured in Venezuela Hideout: "Investigating Mr. Montesinos's money-laundering trail, the F.B.I. arrested three people in Miami on Saturday, including a Venezuelan who said he knew where Mr. Montesinos was hiding, the official said. Senior Peruvian officials were immediately notified, and Peru then demanded that Venezuela take action." The US government wants to claim some credit for the capture.

CNN Harris Whitbeck on Peru's severe quake - June 24, 2001: "A main concern is that the death toll may raise as rescuers reach some of the outlying communities that have been cut off. Authorities fear they may find that more people may have been killed than previously thought. The Peruvian civil defense authorities have revised downward the toll, but it could increase again as more communities are checked."

Yahoo / Reuters Peru says ex-spy chief could face life in jail: "'A number of these crimes like money laundering are punishable by (life imprisonment),' Justice Minister Diego Garcia Sayan told channel N television, adding Montesinos would be charged with crimes including money laundering and murder. 'We should have him back on Peruvian soil no later than Monday or Tuesday,' he said." Montesinos's return will be a real circus.

Yahoo / PRWire World Vision Earmarks Initial $100,000 for Earthquake Relief: "An assessment team arrived in Arequipa Sunday afternoon and is delivering medicines and blankets to people left homeless by Saturday's 7.9 earthquake. Additional World Vision relief workers from Bolivia and Chile are expected to arrive Monday and concentrate efforts in nearby Moquegua." More assistance is going to be needed.

Excite / Reuters Peru emergency workers scour for quake survivors
: "The International Committee of the Red Cross feared the number of known victims would rise, especially as many mud-and-brick peasant homes in isolated highland villages in southern Peru likely crumbled in the quake." The death toll is bordering on 50. More reports coming in from rural areas.

Financial Times Venezuela to return fugitive Peruvian spy chief: "His arrest follows accusations that Caracas had responded inadequately to allegations that he was living in Venezuela under official protection. Mr Montesinos was said to have developed close ties with members of the Venezuelan military in 1992, when 93 rebel soldiers involved in a coup attempt escaped to Peru and were granted political asylum. Plastic surgeons at a clinic in Caracas subsequently confirmed that they performed facial reconstructive surgery on someone closely resemblng Mr Montesinos in December." Chavez had said only the day before that Montesinos was no longer in Venezuela.

BBC John Crabtree: explains the impact of the earthquake on politics, the economy. John worked with me at the Peruvian Times back in the late 1970s. He currently heads up Andean research at Oxford University. Note: you will need ReadPlayer to listen to this audio file.

Financial Times Toledo postpones US trip after quake strikes Peru "Mr Toledo, who was due to begin his first overseas trip on Monday, arriving in the US before traveling on to Europe later in the week, on Sunday said he would stay in Peru to 'extend a hand of solidarity' to the suffering. He planned to visit the earthquake zone on Sunday." Toledo has more than one reason to hang around Peru for a view days.

Yahoo / Reuters Venezuela Arrests, Will Return, Peru's Ex-Spy Chief: "'Vladimiro Montesinos has to face justice. Now we need to take the legal steps to be able to bring him physically here,' Interior Minister Antonio Ketin Vidal told Panamerica television."

Yahoo / AP Peru Spymaster Captured in Venezuela: "Chavez said deportation proceedings were underway, insisting his leftist government does not harbor criminals or support revolutionary movements abroad. Until recently, Chavez's government had said there was no proof Montesinos had entered Venezuela despite growing evidence he was there." A political earthquake has hit Peru on the same day as the geological one.

Lycos / Reuters Peru Charges Montesinos Amassed $264 Million: "Montesinos, who did not officially earn a salary until 1996 though he worked with Fujimori from the start of his 1990-2000 presidency, received top wages in 2000 of $376 a month, El Comercio said. Nevertheless he had various properties worth more than $25 million, including an apartment in Buenos Aires worth $1.5 million, along with bank accounts in the United States, Switzerland and Grand Cayman, the newspaper said." Maybe made a killing in the NY stock market.

Saturday, June 23

A History of Deceit
I strongly recommend that you read Making and Unmaking Authoritarian Peru: Relection, Resistance, and Regime Transition (Adobe Acrobat file) by Catherine M. Conaghan if you want to understand what's happening in Peru today. She is a Professor of Political Science at Queen's College in Kingston, Ontario. She and Julio Carrión created Peru Election 2000 and Peru Post Election 2000 websites. The University of Miami's North-South Center publishes this fascinating reconstructs the last five-years of Alberto Fujimori, drawing on the Vladi-videos coming out from on a weekly schedule.

Yahoo / AP Peru's President-Elect Heads to U.S: "His main objective for the U.S.-European trip is to draw $400 million in 'emergency' aid to help jump-start Peru's stalled economy, said Fernando Villaran, a member of Toledo's economic team. Villaran said the aid is needed to help fund a broad program of public works projects that would provide 400,000 short-term jobs in the first two years of Toledo's five-year term to stave off potential social unrest among Peru's poor majority." Only arriving in the United States, Toledo will try to collect on the political debt acquired by Washington for the removal of the Fujimori embarassment.

Yahoo / AP Quake Kills at Least 31 in Peru "The quake had a magnitude of 7.9 and its center was off Peru's Pacific coast, 120 miles west of Arequipa, according to the U.S. Geological Survey (news - web sites)'s National Earthquake Information Center in Golden, Colo. Peru's Geophysical Institute, however, put the quake's magnitude at 6. The difference could not be immediately explained." The death toll rose to 31 by 9:00 PM.

Friday, June 22

Christian Science Monitor Berenson gets 20 years for aiding Peruvian guerrillas: "Representatives of several Peruvian human rights groups maintain Berenson's retrial met international standards of fairness. 'The court has meticulously respected the rules of due process and has fully respected the defendant's right to a defense. I would say that the proceedings have been impeccable,' says lawyer Carlos Rivera of the Legal Defense Institute, which defends Peruvians accused of terrorism." Peruvian human rights groups have not taken up Berenson's case.

Yahoo / AP Peru Judge Defends Berenson Verdict: "'We tried to avoid deliberating within the framework of the police and military investigations,' he (Judge Marcos Ibazeta ) said. 'If you read the verdict, we based the sentence on what was presented in this trial.'''

Time Peruvians See Berenson as "Treated Rather Better" Than Most: "There doesn't seem to be much doubt among Peruvians that Lori Berenson was clearly hooked up with the MRTA (the leftist Tupac Amaru guerrilla group). So for Peruvians the issue of unfairness (unless you assume there's something basically unfair in the court system) is moderated by the fact that she got a second trial and she got an enormous amount of attention, which most Peruvians don't get under similar circumstances." This is from an interview with Time Latin American bureau chief Peter Katel, whom I worked with during my last year as a freelancer in Peru.

Moving Up
I have just received word that I am promoted to the position of lead Internet developer at the Organization of American States. It's a major step up for me, coming just 15 months after I joined CITEL. The job used to be the equivalent of webmaster, but that title has been grabbed by the Public Information Department so I will have more general responsibilities helping the Director of the Department of Technology and Facility Services develop an Internet strategy and special projects for the OAS. We'll work out the details next week. The move also comes with a noticeable bump to my pay check.

Updating II
I said that I was not going to post here for a while and then over the next 24 hours plus, I put up two dozen items. Lori's problems struck a nerve -- and presented an opportunity. I could have put up three times more if I had added every wire story in a U.S. paper. There was more coverage on Berenson than the runoff election two weeks ago.

Thursday, June 21

The Guardian I'm no terrorist, says jailed American: "Ms Berenson also used her closing statement to attack the 'institutional violence of poverty' and to pay tribute to those who had campaigned against it. In particular, she praised as 'martyrs' the Salvadorean Archbishop Oscar Romero who was assassinated in 1980 and the Guatemalan Bishop Juan Gerardi who was assassinated in Guatemala City in 1998 and for whose murder the former head of military intelligence in Guatemala has just been convicted and jailed for 30 years." Is Bererson translating her political paradigm from Central America to the Andes? Peru is different than El Salvador, to say the least. Global Crossing completes worldwide network: "In less than four years, Global Crossing completed the network by connecting the final link between Lima, Peru and its South American Crossing network, which is already in operation in major markets, including Mexico, Argentina, Brazil, Venezuela and Panama." Does this mean that connecting to Peruvian websites will be quicker?

Yahoo / Reuters Berenson Appeals; Fate Now with Peru's Top Court: "But legal analysts said the Supreme Court, which the case prosecutor expected would take three to four months to rule, was unlikely to overturn a ruling many saw as fair and impartial. 'Personally I think the verdict will be confirmed; it would be difficult for the court to modify the sentence,' said Eduardo Dargent of the Andean Commission of Jurists. The Supreme Court can revise the ruling, maintain the sentence or acquit Berenson but cannot increase the sentence."

Huaman Poma de Ayala Exibit
The Royal Library of Denmark has placed online the manuscript of El primer Nueva corónica y buen gobierno, both text and drawings. This book, originally published in the early 1600s, opens a window to how the native population viewed the Spanish Conquest and the Inca Empire.

Washington Post American Convicted in Peru: "The case, decided by a three-judge panel, was largely circumstantial and covered by national media hostile to her cause. While her explanation that she unwittingly lived in a house full of guerrillas struck many as implausible, the government made little effort to link her directly to terrorist acts. About the only concrete evidence presented against her was a picture she allegedly drew of the Congress building, presumably for the guerrillas' use." More coverage of the verdict.

MBendi World Bank Approves $150 Million to Support Social Reform and Improve Rural Roads: "Upon completion of the first project in 2000, over 11,200 km of rural highways and roads and 3,000 km of paths for non-motorized transportation were rehabilitated in the departments of Ancash, Apurimac, Ayacucho, Cajamarca, Cusco, Huancavelica, Huanuco, Junin, Madre de Dios, Pasco, Puno and San Martin." A WB press release.

Miami Herald U.S. woman gets 20 years for aiding terrorists in Peru: "Carlos Basombrio, director of the Peruvian rights group Legal Defense Institute, accused foreign rights groups and the U.S. news media of using 'emotional blackmail' to press for treatment of Berenson as an innocent woman trapped in an evil foreign justice system. 'For them to have this case seen as one involving an innocent person is a distortion of reality,' he said." I respect Carlos as a spokesman for the Peruvian human rights community and shows how Peruvian and international perspections of this case are sharply divided.

Miami Herald Many in prison are more deserving of attention that Berenson received: "While I agree that Berenson deserved a fair trial, I can't help but feel infuriated by the attention that we in the U.S. media are giving to her case while we ignore the plight of thousands of people -- including other Americans -- who are rotting in prisons around the world in cases that are much more outrageous than hers." Columnist Andés Oppenheimer makes some forceful arguments that Berenson's case gets coverage because the NY media leads the way.

LA Times American Found Guilty of Working With Rebels: "Reflecting the reformist bent of the transition government that took power after Fujimori's ouster last November, the retrial was held in different circumstances than the first one. The proceedings were open and televised. When Berenson complained about having to testify from behind the bars of a holding area--a standard procedure in courts here and elsewhere in Latin America--she was allowed into the courtroom proper." The story points out how different Berenson's trial was, compared to her military court trial. It's never going to be the same as a jury trial in a NY court. Amiga to Amiga? reporter visits an American in prison in Peru: "Out she comes. I'm face-to-face with convicted terrorist, Lori Berenson. Only she doesn't look the part at all. Young, healthy, well-groomed, bespectacled with her long hair swept up high in a pony tail, she reminds me of a freshman on her way to study hall. She eyeballs me distrustfully." An interesting dynamic develops between a vacationing reporter and Berenson. More about the prison setting that Berenson's innocence.

ScienceDaily Magazine Cornell-Bred, Blight-Resistant Potato Variety -- New York 121 -- Is Sent To Russia For Testing To Stave Off Potato Crisis: "In other studies, additional potato varieties developed for resistance to late blight in Eastern Europe are being tested in actual kitchen garden locations and in experiments conducted by Filippov and William E. Fry, a plant pathologist and senior associate dean at Cornell's New York State College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. They will examine the spread of aggressive strains of late blight now being monitored in different potato-producing areas of Russia. By tracking the spread of the diverse forms of this pathogen, potato scientists will be able to better deploy resistant potato varieties developed at Cornell and elsewhere." Bill is a friend from my days at the International Potato Center and the work he's doing on potato blight will have a huge impact on production in the developing world. Also see another series on potato plight.

Philadelphia Inquirer Shining Path may be regaining momentum in Peru: "On June 6, Shining Path members entered San Francisco, in the coca region outside Ayacucho, preaching destruction of the Peruvian government and armed peasant revolution. Guerrillas promised to control farm prices to ensure that poor farmers get a fair deal from buyers. The incursion occurred blocks from police barracks, in a town where the U.S. government has promoted alternative development programs to coca." In the Huallaga and Apurimac valleys, guerrilla columns are a different breed, feeding off the illegal drug trade and taking advantage of strong anti-government sentiment. In addition, four years of economic stagnation provides plenty of motivation for lashing out. But activity does not even approach the levels of the early 1980s.

Lycos / AP Excerpts From Berenson's Statement: "I did not come to Peru to cause any harm. I was and am interested in Peru's history and Peru's future. The reason I wanted to write articles about Peru was precisely because I thought it was very important that people in the United States and elsewhere know more about Peru.'' In Lori Berenson's words.

Lycos / Reuters Peru Gives Berenson 20 Years, She Appeals: "The court had earlier ruled that Berenson was no "mere spectator" of MRTA activities but someone who voluntarily collaborated, although it said she was not a militant rebel." Twenty years is a lot of time to serve for being a sympathizer, not an active cadre.

Lycos / Reuters U.S. Sympathizes with Berenson's Family: "If the Peruvian Supreme Court denies Berenson's appeal and upholds the sentence, the American woman could request to serve her sentence in a U.S. prison under a bilateral prisoner transfer treaty signed by Peru and the United States in 1979." Any U.S. prison would be a Hilton compared to a Peruvian jail.

Wednesday, June 20

NY Times Berenson Found Guilty of Collaborating With Peruvian Guerrillas: "But Ms. Berenson said the people she lived with gave false names, and that she never went up to the fourth floor where the terrorists preparing for a raid on the Congress were living because she respected their privacy and did not want to pry. She said she spent most of her time in a second, smaller apartment that she rented in the months before the raid." As an inquiring journalist, Berenson was pretty failure. No wonder she never published a story. I think she should write a book about her experience.

Financial Times US citizen convicted in Peru court: "For three months, prosecuting judges from the special counter-terrorism court have presented unexpectedly detailed evidence and called many witnesses to back their claim of Ms Berenson's 'collaboration with and militancy in an organization which committed criminal acts'." An experienced resident correspondent gives a good read of the trail outcome.

Yahoo / AP U.S. Woman Convicted in Peru: "Justice Minister Diego Garcia Sayan said earlier that the government would respect the verdict and that Berenson would serve out any sentence in Peru - dimming hopes that she could receive a presidential pardon even if she is convicted." The next question is how long Berenson's prison sentence will be.

Independent Online / AP Peru to discover how much the truth hurts: "Carlos Basombrio, head of the nongovernmental organisation the Institute for Legal Defence, saw problems with 'exaggerated expectations from the victims of what can be done' in the 23 months available to the panel, or fading political will." Interesting that a South African newspaper has picked up this wire copy on the Truth Commission. Comparing experiences.

Miami Herald Montesinos aide gets public attorney for extradition: "Aybar's extradition hearing is set July 13. The Peruvian government sent documents saying the native of Abancay, Peru, rose through the police ranks to become chief of financial investigations in an anti-drug division and head of the agency assigned to protect judges. In that role, Peru charged Aybar acted as an intermediary with corrupt judges used by a criminal organization headed by Montesinos." Aybar says that he has $70 to his name.

The Guardian / AP Lori Berenson: I Am Not a Terrorist: "Berenson was brought to the court, flanked by two female officers in bulletproof vests. In wire-rimmed glasses, a beige jacket and a gray turtleneck, she sat impassively with her hands clasped in her lap while a court clerk read the minutes from the previous session." From the quotes in this piece, it is hard to see if Berenson made an substantial change to her position. She did apologize for misspeaking in her famous "press conference" after her capture, making it sound as if she supported MRTA.

The Guardian / AP Peru Judge Denies Bias Allegations: "'Here the presumption of innocence exists and rules, but the system of questioning, the procedural system, is distinct,' Ibazeta told The Associated Press." Most of the content of this story has appeared in previous AP stories. A new lede has been placed on it since the news outlets are waiting for today's courtroom events.

Updating It's been hard to keep posting over the past few days because I am trying to get back into a normal schedule after working the midnight shift at the CITEL Ottawa meeting. I have tons of work accumulated -- the new design of CITEL has to come out soon; needs more work and a couple of new clients want to see proposals -- would that be night-time job? I may back off heavy posting for a while longer so that I can catch up on work. There are several aspects of the site that I need to rethink.

Tuesday, June 19

NY Times Lake Titicaca Journal: On a Lily Pad, Life Is Lush, but Watch Your Step: "The ancient Uros had their own vision of themselves; they believed that they were something other than human. As their legends have it, the Uros existed before the sun did, have black blood and are invulnerable to drowning. Anthropologists say there are no pure Uros anymore. Over the centuries, they intermarried with neighboring Aymara and Quechua Indians, and the Uro language is just about dead." Foreign correspondent writes from exotic locations in far-away land. No hard news, just a view of the lake and its people. Guilty verdict expected in American woman's terrorism trial in Peru: "On Wednesday morning, Berenson makes her closing argument to the judges, who are expected to render their verdict the same afternoon. Prosecutors are seeking a 20-year prison sentence." From the beginning, the Berenson defense assumed that she would not get a "fair trial" and began spinning the likely outcome to mount a political campaign from Washington and New York.

iWon / Reuters U.S. to Review Drug Program After Peru Crash: "She (an anonymous U.S. source) said the review would be over and its findings released in July, along with the results of the investigation into how missionary Veronica Bowers, 35, and her newly-adopted baby Charity, 7 months, were killed in a hail of bullets that sent their single-engine Cessna crashing into the Amazon jungle." Digging deeper to get all the versions.

Thursday, June 14

LA Times A Can Do Spirit in Peru "Toledo has proved that he can overcome adversity. Given time, Toledo may inspire a similar can-do attitude in the nation he now leads." An editorial in this West Coast newspaper.

VOANews Garcia to Remain a Force in Peru Politics "Over the weekend, defeated Presidential candidate Alan Garcia attended an ecumenical mass in Lima to give thanks for the recently concluded election. The event was strictly non-political, but many of the more than one-thousand people who attended the ceremony loudly applauded Mr. Garcia." Who clould have imaged a year ago that Garcia would resurrect his image so quickly and sweepingly?

excite / Reuters Peru Legislator Less Than Enchanted by Video Game: "Gonzales said the game, which costs the equivalent of $4, had sold more than 10,000 copies and a second version with enhanced graphics would be launched in July." I am sure that Marth Chavez has been called more than a witch by her political adversaries.

iWon / Reuters Peru's Kuczynski sees $300-$400 mln bond issue: "The respected fund manager, banker and former minister, whom investors see as a guarantee of prudent fiscal management ahead, said he was looking for flexibility from the IMF now that Peru was not going to meet some key macroeconomic goals agreed this year and on which major multilateral loans hang." PPK is already talking about scaling back campaign promises to keep a handle on the economy.

Wednesday, June 13

Yahoo / Reuters Peru military chief accused of corruption: "According to the report, irregularities over the purchase of Russian MiG jets generated an $80 million kickback. Waisman said Medina had allegedly declared the jets were new when they were not." Gen. Miguel Medina is the head of the joint chiefs of staff.

Sunday, June 10

Financial Times Peru's sol feels the Toledo effect "The sol ended at a mid-rate of 3.5130 to the US dollar. It started the week at 3.6170. Peruvian stock and bond markets have also enjoyed post-election rallies. A week earlier, the sol twice dropped to record lows amid market fears that presidential hopeful, ex-president Alan García, would snatch victory from then-frontrunner Mr Toledo." A little push.

Miami Herald / AP FBI arrests two Peruvians in Miami connected to Montesinos: "The FBI said Aivar Marca is a former police colonel responsible for Montesinos' security. Pizzaro de la Cruz owned a private security firm and allegedly supplied a fake passport to Montesinos, the statement said." Pieces in the puzzle.

Saturday, June 9

Court TV / AP: Berenson Lawyers Ask For Acquittal "Sandoval said the entire case, including the decision for a retrial, was choreographed by Peru's spy chief Vladimiro Montesinos, who fled the country last year." Does that mean that the current proceedings continue to be under Montesinos' thumb? Or that there are no political meddling in this trial?

Out of Pocket I will be supporting a CITEL Radiocommunications meeting in Ottawa, Canada from June 8 to 17 so I will not be posting with any regularity during that period. I will have good Internet access, but I can't anticipate how much free time I will have.

Thursday, June 7

Times of London No inca -- Peru's new leader has traded too much on his humble past: "Señor Toledo’s biggest problem may, however, come from within. His populist electioneering strategy was stronger on charisma and chutzpah than on a strict regard for truth. Doubt has publicly been cast on some of his more romantic stories about his family. He also presented his Indian background in almost Messianic terms, getting aides to chant the name of a 15th-century Inca emperor, Pachacutec, at his rallies. If he is to do the good he wants, he must not now make the mistake of believing that he really is Pachacutec." This leading article (editorial) highlights views from the other side of the Atlantic.

CNN / AP Peru urges 20-year sentence for U.S. defendant: "Navas listed his charges as 'collaboration with terrorism and illicit association (with terrorism) against the Peruvian state ... The prosecution seeks a jail sentence of 20 years and the payment of a fine of 20,000 soles ($5,665).'" The "moment of truth" is nearly.

NY Times Testing Links Potato Famine to an Origin in the Andes: "Analysis of DNA from stricken potato leaves has confirmed that the pathogen was a fungus known as Phytophthora infestans, but suggests that it did not originate in the Toluca Valley of Mexico, a hot spot of different strains of the blight that has been proposed as the most likely source. Instead, researchers theorize, it may have arisen in the ancestral home of the potato in the Andean highlands of South America." Although this may seem like a minor story, it has great implications for plant pathology and Andean biodiversity.

iWon / Reuters Kuczynski could be Peru econ chief and premier : "Asked about appointments to the central bank, Kuczynski mentioned the names of Julio Velarde and Drago Kisic, who were advisors to Lourdes Flores, who was knocked out of the election race in the first round in April. Kuczynski said the brothers Jaime and Alvaro Quijandria -- experts in energy and agriculture -- could have roles in industrial ministries." PPK is mentioning all the right names.

Wednesday, June 6

National Geographic Pilgrimage Route Uncovered at South America's Lake Titicaca: "Believing that the sun and the moon first arose from the islands, the Inca built temples for worshiping the heavenly bodies about A.D. 1500 and the area became a popular pilgrimage route. But two anthropologists who have been studying the islands' ruins have discovered shrines dating as far back as 500 B.C., which indicates that the islands were regarded as a sacred place even by civilizations that pre-dated the Incans." Titicaca's importance within pre-Colombian civilization is well known, and interlinked with other apus, sacred mountainns elsewhere in the Andes.

International Herald Tribue / Washington Post The New President Will Need All the Help He Can Get Before Peru's 1995 election I asked a taxi driver in Lima if he thought former UN Secretary-General Javier Pérez de Cuellar would make a good president. 'Absolutely,' he said. After a perfectly timed pause, he continued - 'of Sweden.' Mr. Pérez de Cuellar lost in a landslide." Mike Shifter of the Inter-American Dialogue makes a valid point. Perez de Cuellar, Mario Vargas Llosa, Hernando de Soto and other leading interlocutors for Peru may draw attention from outside the country, but governing the country requires unique qualities, including earning the trust of the working class. It's still not clear that Toledo is fully qualified for the job, but he has earned a chance to try.

Miami Herald Miami exec in line for Peru post: "Asked about his plans to end Peru's 4-year-old recession, Kuczynski said he would adopt measures to reactivate the economy, while at the same time reducing government spending in areas such as the armed forces. 'We have too many generals,' Kuczynski said, adding that Peru has about 260 generals and admirals, probably more than any other Latin American country. 'We can cut defense ministry expenditures by up to 20 percent.'" You never really get rid of your admirals and generals; they just go into retirement or inactive service.

Information Technology in Peru Jeffrey Bernstein has pulled together a broad picture of information technology as part of a grad project at American University. I've added it to the Internet section.

Tuesday, June 5

Economist Intelligence Unit Toledo takes the prize: "The Peruvian economy has been in recession for three years, and while Mr Toledo has promised swift measures to reactivate economic activity, it will be difficult to achieve this while maintaining fiscal discipline, which he has also pledged to do. The economy has suffered with low levels of investment, caused in part by the political uncertainty that has reined since a fraud-ridden presidential election in 2000, as well as sharp cuts in government expenditure since September, depressed external demand from a slowing US economy and falling commodity prices." Some economists are less pessimistic about short-term prospects because investment and confidence has been slow low for so long that political renewal will release pent-up energy. Medium- and long-term prospects are much murkier.

Christian Science Monitor Peru victor must now win trust: "The current Constitution is too presidential, and concentrates too much power in certain ministries," says Francisco Santa Cruz, head of the Paniagua government's project for transferring power. "The imbalance discourages a focus where we need it - in decentralization, agriculture, rural government and education." Mr. Santa Cruz says Peru, like many other Latin American countries, must also rebuild its political parties as constructive actors in political reform. Yet despite evident skepticism and fatigue among Peruvians - Peru has organized four expensive presidential votes in a little over a year - there are signs of a desire in civil society to recover a central role in government."

LA Times Peru's Victor: Happy, but Anxious: "Even if Toledo's economic team makes rapid strides with proposed tax cuts and other measures to spur growth and jobs, economic progress takes time. Peru is seething with pent-up rage and frustration. Toledo will feel pressure, as often happens during Latin American political transitions, to go after emblematic villains." Toledo will find that the media will never be as nice to him as now, basking in victory, personal profiles over policies.

World Bank Peru's Toledo calls for international support, World Bank says ready for work: "It will be difficult, if not impossible, for governments pursuing unorthodox economic policies to find conventional sources of external financing. International financial institutions-even their 'soft' loan windows-now operate under stricter rules of engagement." Citing a Mark Falcoff in the Wall Street Journal op-ed page. The World Bank loves other people to deliver its message.

CNN / AP Peru's new president faces challenge of credibility: "'There is in Mr. Toledo an element of unpredictability,' said political analyst Mirko Lauer. 'The question is will he have the kind of feedback that keeps him from believing he IS Pachacutec?'" Mirko can be caustic at times.

ONPE Results Tally of 95% of the votes, Toledo 52.8%, García 47.2% (2.6% blank, 10.9% null).

NY Times Man in the News: Alejandro Toledo: "'From the perspective of self-esteem and integration of the country, Toledo's election is healthy,' said Max Hernández, a leading Peruvian psychoanalyst. 'Toledo represents the hope of `cholofication' surmounting resentment in favor of elevation through education.'" Thanks, Max. The down side of that process is reflected in the resentment and frustration of failed integratino as seen in Sendero. For all the education (primary to university) of the past 50 years, most cholos have little to show for their investment.

Monday, June 4

Washington Post Crisis-Ridden Peru Demands Action From New President: "To dramatize his commitment to unity, Toledo offered the job of cabinet chief to Lourdes Flores Nano, the conservative Lima lawyer who also ran for president and has emerged as the voice of Peru's right wing. But given the track record of this nation's fractious opposition, many here openly wondered whether the new president, who has never held political office, can rise to the challenges ahead."
Toledo is dancing the national unity rain dance, a political ritual that always follows elections.

Washington Post Peru Votes, Washington Abstains: "Ever since last year, 'Washington basically decided that for some reason it had serious doubts about Toledo,' said Youngers. 'He was not someone who was easily influenced by Washington and they will be watching very closely what he does in the first months' of his term." Last year, the issues were clear for Washington -- Fujimori or democracy. Now, a too-active involvement by Washington in the campaign would have been a kiss of death.

CBS / Lycos / Reuters Missionary Pilot Faulted in Peru Shootdown : "The pilot of the missionary airplane, Kevin Donaldson, filed a round-trip flight plan from Iquitos, Peru, to Islandia in the Amazon river on the border with Colombia and Brazil. But he did not refile the plan when he began the return leg of the flight with passengers Jim and Veronica Bowers and their two children, Cory, 6, and adopted baby Charity, 7 months, CBS reported. When the missionary plane was detected by a CIA drug surveillance plane, the Peruvian air force could not find the flight plan and scrambled one of its jets to intercept the aircraft." US officials say that the Peruvian fighter pilot give sufficient warning to the missionary plane before opening fire. Thank goodness for a non-election story.

Newsweek / MSNBC Peru’s New President: "On another front, the centrist technocrat will have to balance the interests of the country’s discredited armed forces against the demands of human rights activists for a thorough probe of abuses and atrocities allegedly committed by the military at the behest of Fujimori and his former spymaster, Vladimiro Montesinos." On this front, there is probably the broadest consensus. The real hard choices will come when extending inquiries into the 1980s under the Garcia and Belaunde administrations.

Los Angeles Times Toledo Wins Bid for Peru Presidency: "Peru's new leader represents a historic breakthrough for a neglected majority of indigenous and mixed-race citizens. His campaign rallies were full of symbols of and references to the Inca emperors from whom many working-class Peruvians descend." In one sense, it does have symbolic value, but it's hard to see how it represents a ground-shifting change. It will take a few decades to see how it plays out.

iWon / Reuters Wall St. looks not to Toledo, but Kuczynski in Peru: "Kuczynski, 62, is the son of European immigrant intellectuals and attended a British boarding school. Toledo, 55, is the eighth of 16 children of an indigenous Andean bricklayer. 'I hope Mr. Toledo leaves economic management to a qualified team led by Kuczynski, while he worries about everything else,' said Joseph Portera, managing director for emerging market bonds at MacKay Shields, the New-York-based investment management company." The question will be how long Kuczynski hangs around in a cabinet. Since 1982, he has had a silent influence on perceptions of Peru's economic performance.

Financial Times Toledo pledges 'new Peru' after election victory: "Although his margin of victory was tighter than he would have hoped for, Mr Toledo said he would rule for all Peruvians. Despite fears of clashes between rival supporters, observers deemed the elections to have been fair and peaceful. Any potential tension was also defused by Mr García's decision to concede graciously only four hours after the polling stations closed. Hinting that he was ready to run again for the presidency in 2006, Mr García said his left-wing APRA party had been strengthened by a vote, which showed it had the support of nearly half the electorate." Garcia has to be the biggest winner of the political process -- from pariah to king-maker in six months.

Christian Science Monitor Despite crises, Peru still chuckles: "While Fujimori and his detested spy chief, Vladimiro Montesinos, now a fugitive from justice, were busy attacking Lima's nongovernment TV stations and the more independent press, they left "The Jokesters" untouched." Humor can make a difference, and Peru needs it so that it can laugh at itself and its own quirks and abuses.

Financial Times García concedes defeat in Peru's election : "Investors were likely to give a guarded welcome to a Toledo victory, encouraged by his economics team, which is led by respected economist Pedro Pablo Kucyinski. Peruvian stock and bond prices had fallen this week while the sol currency dropped to record lows amid market fears that Mr Garca would sneak victory. Few analysts believe the ex-president has learnt from the mistakes that marred his first term in office and worry his populist-minded policies would force him to abandon fiscal responsibility."

The Guardian / AP Toledo Wins Peru Presidential Vote: "With few reported incidents of trouble at polling places, international observers called it Peru's cleanest elections in years."

NY Times Peruvian Son of the Poor is Elected Over Ex-President: "In fact, after weeks of campaign rallies in which he donned avocado necklaces and traditional Indian panchos, Mr. Toledo traded in the Indian garb in his final days on the stump for dark suits, in an effort to appear more presidential. 'Toledo tried to make race an issue but he failed,' said Francisco Sagasti, director of Agenda: Peru, an independent social policy research center. 'No candidate appealed to a specific ethnic or social group.'" There are so many crossed signals in the Peruvian psyche -- class, race, gender, ideology, pop culture -- that a single issue is not going to swing the balance.

Washington Post Peru Elects Indian as President: "Toledo, a political centrist, has sworn to act swiftly, but analysts say his excessive promises on the campaign trail may have raised insurmountably high expectations. If Toledo cannot produce results quickly, analysts say, Peru may once again face the the type of unrest that plagued Fujimori's last years." The vote for Toledo was just as much a vote against Garcia as it was a vote in favor of Toledo's campaign promises or charisma.

Primera Dama Violeta Correa died on Friday at the age of 74. Se was the second wife of President Fernando Belaunde. She was Belaunde's better half, in the full sense of the word. Receptive to the dispossessed, the needy, "los desamparados" en Spanish. She allied herself closely with the "soup kitchen" movement in Lima shantytowns. While Belaunde was patrician and aloof, she was earthy and pragmatic. She was the best First Lady that Peru has ever had.

Sunday, June 3

ONPE Results: Tally of 70 % of votes: Toledo 51.7%, García 48.3% (2% blank, 10.8% null) at 9:00 PM (Lima time). Alan Garcia has conceded defeat. Alejandro Toledo is the next president of the Republic of Peru.

Exit Polls According to CPI and RadioProgramas del Peru, Alejandro Toledo has 46.7% of the vote, Alan García 40.1% and null/blank has13.7%, nationally. Margin of error +/- 4%. Apoyo is saying 44.5% and 38.9%, with 14.4% null/blank. Reuters and AP

Results ftaken from ballot tallies will not be available until 9:00 PM (Lima time).

Internet Video Get news coverage of the elections by turning into Live News Feed from or 24Horas. You may also want to check out other sources, available at La Lista.

Sporting News / AP Ecuador defeats Peru 2-1 to edge closer to qualifying for World Cup: "Peru, seventh with 12 points, lost even an outside chance of qualifying for the 2002 tournament." The other tragedy of this weekend -- Peru lost all hope of going to Korea-Japan. My son and I listened to the game over the Internet with a huge injection of frustration at not being able to see it, but also at not understanding why all the ingredients of talent could not be forged into a successful team. That's Peru.

Chicago Tribune Peru voters stuck choosing lesser of 2 evils: "His (Garcia's) rise has been viewed as symbolic of the general peculiarity of Peruvian politics. It is a nation where disgraced leaders can rise literally from the political scrap heap and where fast-shifting loyalties among voters have spawned a cottage industry of analysts who try to predict the direction -- and strange logic -- of voters' every emotion." That's it in a nutshell.

The Guardian / AP Peruvians Choose New President: "A national poll released Saturday by the independent firm Apoyo predicted Toledo would win with 43 percent support, compared with 38 percent for Garcia. The poll, which surveyed 3,000 voters, had a margin of error of 2 percentage points. Alfredo Torres, director of Apoyo, has said the vote could be tighter than the polls predict. He said there is a hidden constituency for the handsome, 6-foot-3 Garcia from Peruvians ashamed to admit they're planning to cast ballots for a man responsible for one of the most disastrous governments in Peru's history." Curtain-raiser for the fateful day.

The Guardian A plane is shot down and the US proxy war on drug barons unravels : "The surveillance plane was piloted not by US military pilots but by private contractors who, according to US congressional officials, were hired by an Alabama-based company called Aviation Development Corporation (ADC). In the words of one outraged official: 'There were just businessmen in that plane. They were accountable to no one but their bottom line.'" Pulling together all the strings for a bigger ball of yarn.

NY Times Sour About Their Choices, Peruvians Are to Vote on Sunday: "While there is no sign that the newly revamped election apparatus tilts toward either man, both sides already appear poised to charge fraud if they lose after a campaign that has so disgusted voters that as many as 20 percent say they may spoil their ballots in protest." How shortsighted can politicians be? After months of mudslinging that disgusted the electorate, both sides in the presidential race are preparing to protest alleged vote-rigging to dirty the victory for the winner.

Washington Post Peruvian Campaign Opens Up Race Issue: "The population in Peru is 82 percent Amerindian and mixed race. The white minority, which generally controls economics and politics, amounts to 15 percent, with the remainder divided among small Asian and black minorities. Discrimination against the 45 percent of Peruvians of pure Indian blood and an additional percentage of mixed-race Peruvians is strong. This is particularly true in Lima, Peru's capital, 350 miles north of Cuzco." See the remarks in the last entry yesterday for some examples of racism in the campaign.

Saturday, June 2

Correspondence from Peru: I got the following message from Eduardo Melendez after he visited my site:

Stupid mother f**kers, how you dare criticize my country??...Alan Garcia and his mistakes are history for Peruvians, now he is a much better candidate than Toledo, the stinky Indian who is being manipulated by Peruvian plutocracy!!!

I have deleted more four-letter words and other cursing. This is an example of how overheated this election campaign has become.

Yahoo / Reuters Peru Election Head Says Vote Fraud 'Impossible': "'It's strange to say it on the eve of a vote, but for this society, a clean election in itself is more important than the presidential result,' wrote political analyst Mirko Lauer in La Republica newspaper." Understatement is perhaps the safest commentary at this juncture.

Yahoo / Reuters Poor And Jobless, Peru Voters Wary of Candidates: "An average day brings about 30 soles -- or $8 -- for the mother of two (Nelida Sanchez), who says she will spoil her ballot in Sunday's presidential runoff because she does not think either candidate will deliver on pledges of jobs and help for the poor." Experience teaches.

The Irish Times Neither candidate in poll inspires confidence: "Peru's mass media have coordinated a last-minute campaign to dissuade an estimated 40 per cent of voters from spoiling their ballots, as polls show consistently that voters want neither of the candidates." OAS officials and Madaeline Albright of the observer missions have all been making noise about the need to cast a valid vote.

Christian Science Monitor : "Lima's Manrique says there are several reasons why Peru is behind other Latin countries like Ecuador and Bolivia in developing a solid indigenous movement. In a country of 27 million people, the population is only about 12 percent white, according to the most recent estimates. But the indigenous culture never recovered from a fierce and pyrrhic battle against European domination by warrior Tupac Amaru in 1780, Manrique says. The ensuing slaughter finished off Peruvian Indians' intellectual elite. More recently, he says, the rise in the 1980s of the Andean-based terrorist organization Shining Path left any indigenous movement suspect. Only Shining Path's defeat allowed a sense of Indian pride and collective demands to emerge." Manrique has been examining the racial issues for more than a decade.

The Guardian Poll surge for Peru's presidential underdog: "The prospect of a Garcia win is already making the financial markets nervous, since he is remembered as the leader who tried to limit Peru's foreign debt payments unilaterally and nationalise Peru's banks. Mr Garcia himself is said to be wary about returning to power sooner than he expected." If I had a chance to be president of Peru, I would be scared out of my mind.

Friday, June 1

Confessions of a Stringer I have added another chapter, My Romance with the Computer, to my memoirs, but it also stems from thoughts about computing, the Internet, PDAs, outliners and writing.

Miami Herald Peruvians seek a president with integrity: "On Sunday, Peruvians will look for the right answer that has eluded them for generations. Even as Peruvian-grown tea sells from the shelves of Lima's markets -- evidence of one problem solved too late for the rest of the world to notice -- the people living in this disintegrating economy can only hope that the next president will lead them with integrity toward a better future. Unfortunately, history is not favorably on their side." A perspective that takes a longer-term view of the elections.

Yahoo Reuters Peru Rivals Pledge Jobs Before Presidential Runoff: "Interim President Valentin Paniagua, an elder statesman whom some polls show is more popular than either of the two candidates, urged Peruvians 'to keep calm, to take part in the election ... with a huge sense of responsibility.'"

Radio Netherlands Peru Faces Uncertain Future: "Whichever candidate wins on Sunday, Peru faces an uncertain future. The country is divided at the very moment it most needs to be unified. The economy is in shreds, and the judiciary, which must contend with thousands of unsolved murders and disappearances, is in urgent need of reform. Democracy must be rebuilt, in Peru, from the ground up. This will require consensus, and trust in the political process. But both of these appear to be further away than ever." There is also a Real audio report by the correspondent, Edwin Koopman.

Washington Post Peru Close Up: "Over the past decade The Post's Michael Robinson-Chavez made photographing Peru a personal mission. Born of a Peruvian mother, he has traveled throughout the country seeking to capture its personal meaning for him as well as social realities." Camera Works, the Post's photography showcase, spotlights a visual journey through modern-day Peru. Includes a Flash presentation and a Real video interview. Also available are shots from other assignments.

SFGate Making of a candidate - Bay Area education paved way for Peru contender from the slums: "Toledo graduated from USF in 1966 with a degree in economics. That spring, he turned up at Stanford to apply for a Ford Foundation fellowship to train Latin American students to be education leaders in their native counties." Hometown paper tells the story of Toledo's college days and a little bit more.

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