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Wednesday, November 28

MSNBC / Reuters Latest leak from jailed ex-spy chief riles Peru: "In the commission testimony aired on Panamericana television on Sunday, Montesinos -- himself a lawyer -- accused the government of violating his rights with excessive surveillance. His rules of confinement were tightened as a punishment after the Telemundo interview." As they say on Lima streets, Que tal concha!

Economist Intelligence Unit New IMF accord paves way for growth: "The IMF is being quite flexible with Peru in its new accord. It acquiesced to a deficit target of 1.9% of GDP in 2002, and will permit this to increase to 2.1%-2.2% of GDP if indeed privatisation receipts exceed the minimum and enable additional government spending. The IMF had initially wanted Peru to adopt a tighter deficit target of around 1.5% for next year. This year's deficit will amount to around 2.4% of GDP." But what Peru really needs is an economic turnaround soon. This government and the previous one kept thinking that it can't be this bad for much longer.

Saturday, November 24

Nando Times / AP Peruvian ex-president admits error in naming spy chief: "In a videotaped statement broadcast on Peruvian television Friday, Fujimori said from Tokyo that he assumes responsibility for naming [Vladimiro] Montesinos as an adviser to Peru's intelligence agency." I thought Fujimori was a fast learner. It took him a year to wake up to this fact.

Friday, November 23

MSNBC / Reuters Sharpshooters, warships in place for Peru's summit: "Interior Minister Fernando Rospigliosi said this week that 22,0000 police officers would guard the summit. Of these, police said 3,500 would be stationed near the posh Lima hotel where the leaders are gathering. 'There are 3,500 police around the hotel and 20 sharpshooters on nearby buildings, as well as anti-aircraft weapons and missiles prepared,' Reuters was told by a police official, who requested anonymity." Showcasing what 20 years of terrorism can do to upgrade a national security system.

Thursday, November 22

MSNBC / Reuters Seeking momentum, Peru's Toledo courts opposition: "Change is in the air. Respected advertising expert Jorge Salmon on Monday confirmed his appointment as part-time image consultant, and analysts expect a government reshuffle in December. Defense Minister David Waisman is seen likely to go. Health Minister Luis Solari is expected to return to Congress with the job of uniting Toledo's Peru Posible party." Toledo met with Alan Garcia and Valentin Paniagua. Garcia could have given plenty of tips on how to make presidential popularity plummet.

MSNBC / Reuters Peru wants strong anti-terror stance at summit: "'The fight against terrorism cannot be something where only the strongest speaks, but rather an opportunity to strengthen the international order,' Garcia Sayan said." The Ibero-American Summit will be held in Lima this week. Lots of heads of state, including Castro, will descend on Peru.

Yahoo / Reuters Latam's Hottest Talk-Show Dishes Out Scandal, Sorrow: "Bozzo's program, which airs on the No. 2 U.S. Spanish language network Telemundo, has kept millions of viewers in more than 20 countries glued to their screens since it was launched in 1997." Laura's programis the Peruvian equivalent of Jerry Springer's daytime show.

Yahoo / Reuters Peru's Vargas Llosa Says Best Writing to Come: "This passionate, prolific 65-year-old Peruvian author, intellectual, political commentator, journalist, human rights abuse investigator and one-time presidential candidate says the years may not have mellowed him, but his best is yet to come." I haven't read a Vargas Llosa book in 10 years, but don't hold that against him.

IMF News Brief: Aninat Welcomes Agreement with Peru on New Program: "The Executive Board is expected to consider Peru's request for a stand-by in January. The new agreement will replace the current one-year stand-by due to expire in March 2002. The program envisages GDP growth in the range of 3.5 - 4 percent in 2002 and 5 percent in 2003, the maintenance of low inflation, and a moderate increase in net international reserves." The blessing of the IMF will not be enough to pull Peru out of its economic hole.

Wednesday, November 21

USAToday Dig turns up surprises in spades In Peru, a people called the Moche ruled a palace -- or did they?: "But while Huancaco looks like the other temples lining valleys along the Pacific, archaeologists excavating the site have found nothing to confirm that it is, in fact, a Moche ruin. This discovery threatens some long-held notions about the Moche (MO-chay) while offering a lesson in how ideas about ancient peoples can change, once archaeologists start sifting through sites long assumed to be something else." The beauty of Peruvian archaeology is that assumptions about pre-Colombian cultures are constantly being reassessed and rewritten as new digs are uncovered. It is an intellectual adventure.

Tuesday, November 20

MSNBC / AP Fresh off the blocks, Peru president dogged by image problems: "Toledo's work habits and punctuality are closely scrutinized. News magazine Caretas staked him out for a week in October and found he didn't arrive at work before 10:45 a.m., and sometimes not until noon. Prime Minister Roberto Danino says it doesn't mean a thing. Toledo, he says, sometimes calls him at home at 7 a.m. and often works late into the night." Former president Alan Garcia was always late -- and probably still is. It's a presidential prerogative.

Sunday, November 18

Yahoo / Reuters Toledo Slams Plot to Destabilize Peru Democracy: "Asked whether he meant a plot, Toledo said: 'I don't have the slightest doubt.' The authors, he said, were people involved in the corruption scandals that felled ex-President Alberto Fujimori a year ago, out to 'save their skins.' Toledo offered no proof or details but his government, already under fire for failing to deliver immediately on campaign promises to create jobs, has repeatedly countered criticism with talk of shadowy efforts to undermine democracy." Peruvian presidents love to have conspiracies being plotted against them. They can have someone to blame.

South Florida Sun-Sentinel Sun-Sentinel:: "The House approved a bill extending trade benefits to Bolivia, Ecuador, Colombia and Peru beyond a Dec. 4 expiration date through 2006, despite opposition from some U.S. textile-producing states. Supporters said the measure would help the four South American countries boost production of apparel, flowers and other goods for U.S. sale and also reduce their output of illegal drugs. The four countries had urged passage amid today's global economic slump." The bill still has to get Senate approval.

Friday, November 16

Washington Post Peru Can't Catch a Break: "Another obstacle is likely to be resources. Many of the surveillance planes and personnel to train the Peruvians have been redeployed to other parts of the world to help fight the newly declared international war on terrorism." Although Toledo's government would like to resume drug interdiction flights, Washington shows no enthusiasm for the move. Other trends don't look good for Peru; read the article by Marcela Sanchez for more details. Peru's president opens Antamina mine: "Antamina could one day become one of the biggest mines of its kind in the world, expected to produce an annual average of 675 million pounds of copper and 625 million pounds of zinc during the first 10 years of its life, making it the world's No. 7 copper producer and No. 3 zinc operation." A piece of good news in the midst of Peru's doldrums. Mining, however, has a limited impact on the domestic economy, mainly in the region around the mine and in the balance of payments.

The Guardian / AP Peru Fixated on Nabbing Fujimori: "Probing the Fujimori regime has come to dominate activities in Congress, to the point that little legislating is getting done. Ninety-nine of the legislature's 120 members sit on 64 committees that are looking into the deposed government."

The Guardian / AP Statement Warns of Peru Coup: "Claiming to represent a recently formed group called the 'Jose Quinones Command,' the statement warned 'not to doubt for one moment that we will reply by establishing order and security.' The three-page document urged Congress to investigate the alleged corruption, 'thus avoiding our intervention." Another ritual in the Peruvian political dance - the coup rumor. This kind of anonymous statement should not be a surprise because the military have been used as the whipping boy for Montesinos's power.

Monday, November 12

NY Times At Sato's Place, Great Seafood and a Secret Is Safe: "Mr. Sato's restaurant, Costanera 700, is to Lima what Rick's was to Humphrey Bogart's Casablanca. There is no piano, but there are several private backrooms lined with bottles of vintage wines for Lima's elite to make deals as waiters in white uniforms serve endless helpings of dumplings and steamed fish." A juicy piece about a restaurant favored by the powerful and shadowy.

NY Times Story of C.I.A. and Peru's Former Spy Chief May Soon Be Told: "President Alejandro Toledo of Peru said he had requested the release of the documents because Mr. Montesinos remained a threat to Peru's fledgling democracy. He accused Mr. Montesinos of using extortion and bribery from his Peruvian jail cell to exert sweeping political influence in Peru. Mr. Montesinos is awaiting trial on charges of money laundering and drug dealing during the decade he was a major adviser and political operative of former President Alberto K. Fujimori." Don't get your hopes up because anything that might compromise U.S. security will be blacked out.

Saturday, November 10

Yahoo / Retuers Peru Says U.S. Anti-Drug Flights to Resume in 2002 "'There's no fixed date but we do know that they will resume next year,' Vice President Raul Diez Canseco told Reuters at a business leaders' forum in the northern city of Chiclayo." The Devil is in the Details.

Yahoo / AP Peru Targets Accused TV Executives: "Analysts say Peru's television industry, racked by debt and dependent on government advertising, was an easy target for Montesinos. Besides cash, he offered to influence court cases involving back taxes and shareholder battles for control of various stations. In return, newscasters critical of the government were thrown off the air and in several cases Montesinos assumed direct control of programming and even dictated newscast scripts from his National Intelligence Service headquarters." Peruvian TV was a disaster waiting to happen. Governments before Fujimori/Montesinos showed more restraint in extracting favors -- or else they were not willing to pay as high a price.

iWon / Reuters Peru not catching Argentine crisis - Toledo: "'Our economy is not suffering infection from Argentina and our country risk is falling as our international reserves rise,' Toledo said in an inaugural address to a major annual forum attended by more than 500 industrialists in the northern city of Chiclayo.'My government is committed to a stable and coherent macroeconomic policy,' Toledo said in a speech that came days after the government slashed its growth forecasts for this year and next and bumped up its 2001 budget deficit estimate." CADE is an annual business meeting at which the government courts investors.

iWon / Reuters Peru's Toledo prudently optimistic about growth: "Some factions in Congress are pushing to investigate a number of contracts from the Fujimori era amid ongoing probes into corruption during his 1990-2000 rule. Luis Oganes, Andean specialist at J.P. Morgan, expressed concern that congressional commissions were, 'digging through every contract and privatization agreement signed during the last decade.'" It's the favorite sport of Peruvian politics -- find the previous government's dirty laundry.

iWon / Reuters Upbeat Kuczynski sees Peru-IMF deal next week: "However, Kuczynski was upbeat. 'We are in a financially enviable position in Latin America. We shouldn't be tearing our clothes and wailing. We are the only country buying dollars today,' he later told the annual conference, attended by the country's top industrialists." PPK tries to pump up Peruvian businessmen. He says that the sale of state companies may bring in extra cash.

Forbes / Reuters Peru probes links between bin Laden and Montesinos: "'Also we have discovered a network ... of people from the Arab world in a connection between Peru, Bolivia, Argentina and Chile. We caught one in Peru and he talked,' Toledo told Reuters, speaking in English." Could Montesionos have been dealing with the Devil himself?

Thursday, November 8

CNET / Reuters Judge studies charges against Peru's top banker: "The charges relate to the so-called Hayduk case involving one of Peru's biggest fishing companies whose shareholders were charged with drugs trafficking. Romero has already faced charges in that case, but they were dropped." In the current environment in Peru, any accusation sounds credible.

MSNBC / Reuters Montesinos said to demand $700,000 bribe from jail: "Echaiz, a lawyer for electoral official Jose Cavassa said he was taken in the trunk of a car at around 1 a.m. on Oct. 1 to the naval base prison in Lima where Montesinos is being held, and had a meeting with the former spy chief." Montesinos has a long reach even from a high-security jail.

Tuesday, November 6

iWon / Reuters Peru takes knife to 2001 growth forecast: "The economy ministry said it had also nudged up its forecast for the budget deficit to 2.4 percent of GDP, compared with a previous 2.3 percent goal. But it cut the inflation target to 1.0 percent against a previous 2.5 percent goal." More bad news for Peru as the recession grinds on.

Sunday, November 4

Miami Herald / EFE Peru arrests daughter of ex-advisor Montesinos: "Silvana Montesinos has been under investigation since last year for alleged complicity in the illegal enrichment of her father and others who comprised the corruption network he established. She was detained at the end of last year, but authorities released her a few weeks later after determining that there was no substantial proof to link her to her father's illegal network." The ongoing saga of Vladimiro Montesinos. The government still fears what remains of his power.

Washington Post The Feast of the Goat: "It is when Vargas Llosa deals with these matters -- the iron grasp of the dictator, as much psychological as physical; the supine collaboration of the best people; the courageous plot against him and its bungled aftermath; the administration of his sly, quiet, resourceful, cynical successor, Joaquin Balaguer, who 'transformed himself from a puppet president, a nonentity, into an authentic Head of State' -- that The Feast of the Goat is at its best; it is here that the book is not so much a novel as what William Styron called his own The Confessions of Nat Turner, 'a meditation on history.'" Jonathan Yardley reviews MVLl's latest novel translated into English.

Friday, November 2

The Guardian Fujimori casts his net: "A band of wealthy and influential supporters in Japan - where Fujimori and many of his relatives have adopted citizenship - have arranged translators so the site is available in Spanish, Japanese and English." It used to be that aAlberto Fujimori commanded practically all the media in Peru, thanks to his righthand man, Vladimiro Montesinos. Now he has his personal website.

CorpWatch Bayer Sued for Pesticide Deaths in Peru:"The lawsuit asserts that the agrochemical companies who imported and sold the product in Peru should have taken steps to prevent the foreseeable misuse of this extremely toxic product, given the severe health risks presented by methyl parathion and the well known socio-economic conditions in the Peruvian countryside." One of the silent tragedies of rural Peru is the widespread misuse of herbicides and pesticides.

Forbes / Reuters Peru minister warns: "We could quit": "The Peruvian state has signed more than 550 so-called contracts of juridical stability with local and foreign firms, the majority of which were drawn up under the auspices of privatization and are put to arbitration if disputes arise." This approach to attract investment is a reaction to Peru's long-standing habit of changing tax and regulatory statutes on a whim, with each new finance minister. Just as now, politicians feel it their obligation to challenge everything that came under Fujimori.

Thursday, November 1

Financial Times Peru hopes to limit damage to Japan ties over Fujimori: "During his brief meeting with Mr Koizumi in Shanghai, the Peruvian president stressed that the Fujimori issue should not be allowed to affect 'cordial' relations between Japan and Peru in the areas of trade, investment and technology." Real politique.

Yahoo / Reuters Peru business shadowed by corruption scandals: "'The perception used to be that the private sector corrupted the state, but with Montesinos that idea has been inverted to see the state corrupting the private sector,' said sociologist Guillermo Rochabrun of Lima's Catholic University." It's an upside-down world, in more ways than one.

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