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Sunday, December 30

Washington Post Camera Has Turned on Peru's TV Stations: "Despite the Montesinos cash, Peru's television stations are broke. Shareholders have argued that this proves the money did not benefit the channels, only their owners, so they should be allowed to keep the licenses. In addition, much of the stations' revenue is from government advertising, which added to Montesinos's leverage. Investigators say his influence was such that at times he personally wrote newscast scripts and had troublesome reporters fired." I missed this article that came out on December 18. TV broadcasters were always willing to work with any government -- the difference this time is that they dealt in cash and hidden videos.

The Independent Peru's rebels stage drug-fuelled revival: "Police in the Upper Huallaga Valley, Peru's principal coca-growing region, claim Colombian entrepreneurs have begun to supply farmers with poppy seed, arrange start-up credits for new planters and furnish weapons to protect the lucrative new fields. Sticky opium gum sells for twice the price of coca base, incentive enough for most subsistence farmers to begin cultivation. Guerrillas exploit the trade by demanding protection money from opium farmers and traffickers." This has been the pattern of the past 30 years. Trafficking outfits tend to be better agricultural extension workers than the government. But the correspondent's view that Sendero is only now picking up on exploiting the cocaine trade. SL has used coca-growing environment since the late 1970s. Fortunes were made in Ayacucho because of crops and refining in the Apurimac valley.

Toronto Slar / AP Peru fireworks death toll 205 and rising: "An initial blast ripped through a fireworks shop at about 8 p.m., Lima Fire Chief Tulio Nicolini said. Flames raced through the three- and four-storey buildings as firefighters and volunteers dragged people from the burning structures. The area was jammed with shoppers and sidewalk vendors selling fireworks, which then also exploded as the fire swept down the streets, trapping many of the victims, who had nowhere to run." The section of the city is east of Abancay Avenue and has always been overcrowded and run down. I can't imagine any historical buildings there that might have been worth saving. More than the cultural loss, the human tragedy is immeasureable.

Saturday, December 29

Nando Times / AP Former spymaster testifies in Peru: "Besides saying how much he paid various lawmakers, Montesinos also told committee members that he knew as early as 1990, the year Fujimori was first elected, that Fujimori also held Japanese citizenship." Vladimiro also told how easy it was to flip opposition congressmen over to Fujimori's party.

Friday, December 28

MSNVC / Reuters Peru denies American prisoner was mistreated "Lori Berenson, 32, of New York, is 'in good health,' the Peruvian Justice Ministry said in a statement released late on Wednesday. 'The ministry denies the 'grave injury' her lawyers have denounced,' the statement said." The government responds to accusations that Lori Berenson was abused during a transfer to another prison.

Thursday, December 27

CBSNews / Reuters Sex Abuse Allegation In Berenson Case: "Her father, Mark Berenson, said the complaint was rooted in physical and sexual abuse that occurred during the surprise move, which officials said was made for security reasons. Mr. Berenson says 'the complaint was for sexual molestation and the way she was moved.'" Lori Berenson is back in the news.

Tuesday, December 25

Nando Times / AP Military tribunals helped Peru beat terrorism but at a cost "'A country at war runs the risk of losing its soul,' cautions the Rev. Hubert Lanssiers, a Belgian-born Catholic priest who heads the commission. Some 3,900 Peruvians were convicted in secret courts. Six hundred of them - known as "los inocentes" - have been released since 1996, Lanssiers says. While it's impossible to know for sure, he estimates several dozen innocent people could still be imprisoned for terrorism." Peru may be able to give the Bush Administration on things to avoid with military tribunals.

Sunday, December 23

Nando Times / AP American convicted of collaborating against Peruvian congress moved to Andes prison: "American Lori Berenson, currently serving a 20-year sentence after she was convicted of collaborating with leftist guerrillas in a failed plot to seize Peru's congress, was transferred Friday from a Lima prison to one high in the Andes, a government spokesman said." Berensen was sent to Cajamarca, not as bad as Puno where she started her prison term.

Friday, December 21

iWon / Reuters Peru bourse near flat in 2001, sees strong 2002: "The market is expecting a government bond issue worth up to $1.8 billion approved by the government along with the 2002 budget. Bourse Managing Director Federico Oviedo also highlighted the expected sale next year of 25 percent of shares in zinc producer Iscaycruz, treasury bonds and bond issues from copper producer Southern Peru Copper Corp." Sometimes, flat is good when compared to what's happening in the rest of the world.

Thursday, December 20

Forbes / Reuters As Argentina crashes, is Peru a safe bet?: "'I think the bottom line is that people are not yet that comfortable that Peru with Toledo will not become a mess,' said one investment banker who declined to be named. 'I think there is an understanding that for now things are sort of holding together ... probably will hold for 6 to 9 months. But no one's really persuaded that this in not just a temporary calm and there maybe a storm later.'" Peru now looks good compared to Argentina.

Monday, December 17

Washington Post Fujimori's Long Shadow - New Leader in Peru Seen As Distracted by the Many Probes of His Predecessor : "Today officials around Toledo can point to some improving numbers in the economy. But Eduardo McBride, senior adviser to Toledo's Peru Possible congressional delegation, said large parts of the president's legislative agenda have languished in recent months, including a measure that would transfer to regional governments much of Peru's centralized political power and allow them more fiscal independence." The Fujimori-Montesinos story out of Lima is getting kind of monotonous -- the Toledo government has to break out of the rut.

Saturday, December 15

Forbes / Reuters Forbes.com: Upbeat Kuczynski details Peru 2002 privatizations: "Peru's official privatization goal for next year is $700 million but the government has said it is confident of exceeding that, and of using extra cash raised to fund infrastructure projects in the poor Andean nation." PPK says that Peru could actually reach $1 billion from privatization of state holdings.

Monday, December 10

Washington Post Peru Fears Reemergence of Violent Rebels: "Police officials said that, while the Shining Path made money from the drug trade during its first campaigns, it is bringing in far more today because of its involvement in protecting opium poppies, the key ingredient in heroin. Processed poppies fetch more than twice the price of coca, the key ingredient in cocaine." There is always plenty of reasons for revolt in Peru, so Sendero can find recruits and opportunities around the country. It's like being infected with HIV -- you can keep it from blooming into AIDS, but you'll never get rid of it in your lifetime.

Wired Reflections of a Peru Web Pioneer: "The first ISP in Latin America, it provided computer training to 50,000 people. In the last seven years, a thousand of these booths, called cabinas p˙blicas, were built all over Per˙." JosÚ Soriano founded the Peruvian Scientific Network (RCP) and pioneered Internet access well before Peru's phone companies woke up to its potential. This piece only scratches the surface of a fascinating story.

Sunday, December 9

Like Father, Like Daughter
Afro-Peruvian Dance and Music is an introduction to the evolution of black music in Peru. It has not only influenced musical currents in Peru, but spread as far as Argentina and Mexico. Of course, the author of this perceptive piece is my daughter, Stephanie Smith. She's in her final year at the University of Maryland, College Park.

Friday, December 7

MSNBC / Reuters Garbage boy illustrates grim reality of Peru's poor: "Though Fujimori has been praised for reforming Peru's economy, boosting infrastructure, and ushering in average growth of some 4 percent during the 1990s, INEI this year said it now believed that the number of people living in poverty in fact grew by 2.1 million in the last four years." The same lousey poverty figures year after year -- no wonder Peruvians are cynical about politicians' promises. Meawhile, Peru's elites continue to build palatial summer homes on the beaches outside Lima -- but with higher fences.

Wednesday, December 5

On Being Too Busy
It's getting harder to find the time to post to this log. My work at the OAS is picking up and I can't even find time at lunch to post a few notes. At home, I'm fighting with my wife for computer time because she's looking for mp3 files. I also have my graduate classes that carries a heavy reading and writing load. Accept my apologies, those of you who come back and find nothing new in La Esquina del Movimiento.

One evening, I did find time to update my tribute to Katharine Graham, the former top dame of the Washington Post.

Despite this negligence, traffic has been growing. This weblog has been going for a full year, marking the period when I really took this site seriously. It's grown five fold over that period -- and I've not been able to promote if for the past four months.

Washington Post / AP Suspected Rebels Bomb Peru Tower: "Peru's leading newspaper, El Comercio, reported Sunday that since October, police had been investigating seven acts of sabotage against towers in the Lima area belonging to the U.S.-owned electric company Luz del Sur." Power pylons were a favorite Sendero target. I fondly remember the blackouts.

Washington Post / AP Ancient Incan Doorway Unearthed: "The portal 'could have formed part of a grand complex and is probably a doorway that led to the archaeological site of Sacsayhuaman,' Benavente said. Benavente said the doorway apparently formed part of what archaeologists believe was a sacred complex in the center of ancient Cuzco, near what is now the main plaza." Even in Cusco (correct spelling -- z does not exist in Quechua), there's a lot to be learned. Scratch the surface and civilization are uncovered.

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