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Thursday, January 31

BBC Long haul for Peru corruption inquiry: "But the sheer volume of evidence that has appeared since the videotape of Mr Montesinos was released has revealed a huge web of corruption and human rights abuses. Mr Ugaz said that the only institutions unaffected were the Roman Catholic Church and the ombudsman's office." Five years of trials ahead of us, says the prosecutor.

iWon / Reuters Battered Peru fisheries sector sees steady 2002: "SNP officials blame the dwindled 2001 haul on a water temperature shift, reducing the plant life foodstock for fish. As a result, there was an abnormally high percentage of slim fish unfit for the commercial market. To avert further depletion of the stock of sought-after species, the government of President Alejandro Toledo imposed fishing bans -- more in 2001 than in other years -- for anchovy and hake." Fishing is the second biggest cash earner for Peru.

Wednesday, January 30

Forbes / Reuters Peru's Banco Wiese looks to grow after cutbacks: "Wiese Sudameris, which was created in 1999 by fusing Banco Wiese and Banco de Lima Sudameris, is controlled by Italy's biggest bank, IntesaBCI. In 1999, the bank employed 3,500 people, but following a cost-cutting campaign, personnel has been reduced to 2,100, but at a high cost. Patarin said a shift in accounting methods also set the bank back." Wiese used to be a niche bank that catered to the wealthy. Now it's the second largest bank in Peru.

Guardian U.S. to Start Peruvian Drug Flights: "'The issue is how, not whether to resume flights, Beers told The Associated Press after meeting with reporters at the Organization of American States."

Forbes / Reuters Peru says global bond issue for up to $1.5 billion: "The government said in the statement the upcoming auction would include up to $1 billion in buy-backs of Brady bonds and up to $500 million in new debt. Peru's Brady bonds total $3.5 billion. Its PDI Brady bond firmed 0.375 points to 79.000 points on Wednesday." Peru ups the stakes in international markets.

iWon / Reuters 'Made in Peru' plug to boost commerce in 2002: "According to Gleiser, government procurement will grow from 15 percent to 20 percent this year. Some 20 percent of that will be made in large-scale deals subject to public bidding, while the remaining 80 percent are smaller purchases that can be made directly from suppliers." Pump-priming.

Tuesday, January 29

iWon / Reuters Construction rebound may fuel Peru's growth: "Construction executives pin much of their hopes for a brighter 2002 on Toledo's pledge for more infrastructure spending -- on highways and hospitals, schools and bridges in a nation whose geography runs from coastal deserts to lush jungles and snowcapped peaks. Also key for the industry are government plans to construct adequate and affordable housing -- a vital need where millions of people live in flimsy and cardboard huts in the capital Lima." The third in a series about the Peruvian economy.

Monday, January 28

Web Accounting
This site has completed its first full calendar year, though I should really start counting from October 2000. During 2001, we served up 122,000 pages to 59,000 visitors -- small beans compared to more established sites. The high point was when the site was picked up by Yahoo as a Site of the Day, in late February, and then a Site of the Week, in early March. gci285/Peruvian Graffiti is in a niche market so I would like to thank those responsible for the 8,928 repeat visits. You know who you are. Hope to see you again.

MSNBC / Reuters Peru postpones first trial linked to spy chief: "Ex-legislator Alberto Kouri is accused of taking a $15,000 bribe from spy chief Vladimiro Montesinos, the one-time top aide to Fujimori, who himself is awaiting trial on a raft of charges from murder to money laundering. The trial was postponed until Thursday after Kouri refused to testify when witnesses he had requested were denied." Melodrama tends to stretch out as long as human attention can last.

iWon / Reuters Antamina: Peru mining's big leap in 2002: "But executives say there is a great deal of mineral wealth lying untouched beneath Peruvian soil and calling for incentives to draw in greater investment, nearly all of that from abroad. According to the National Concessions Institute, mining firms have spent millions of dollars on testing those reserves and mining claims top 25,000. 'Peru is a mining country and it has barely scraped the surface of its wealth. The state has agreed to give incentives for exploration at a difficult for the moment with an exemption of sales tax for exploration,' said Roberto Obradovich, representative of Canadian Manhattan Minerals Corp." Second installment in a series on the Peruvian economy.

iWon / Reuters IWon Money: "But on Wall St., optimism over Peru prompted credit ratings agencies Standard & Poor's and Moody's Investors Service to brighten their outlook on this Andean nation, which is preparing to make what analysts expect to be a triumphant return to international capital markets in a couple of weeks. Economists say that even if Peru achieves its goal this year of up to 4 percent growth, it may end up running not far and fast enough to lift living standards for the bulk of Peruvians who are poor." The start of a series of articles that will focus on Peru's economy.

Financial Times Peru faces a battle to keep children in schools: "The strength of their case is graphically illustrated by Huachipa's brick factory - a vast dust-bowl overlooked by grey, barren hills. In this dispiriting landscape, men, women and children - some as young as six - sweat in the afternoon heat, shovelling a clay mix into rectangular moulds, turning them out on the ground to be taken off for baking. The families get about 20 soles ($6, E7) for every 1000 bricks they produce, a task that takes at least a day or more." The idea that kids shouldn't be working is a relatively new concept in Peru -- in the past 40 years.

Sunday, January 27

iWon / Reuters S&P, Moody's revise outlook on Peru's ratings: "Moody's Investors Service changed its ratings outlook to stable from negative for Peru's Ba3 foreign-currency country ceiling for bonds and notes... Earlier on Thursday, Standard & Poor's revised its outlook on Peru's sovereign debt ratings to positive from stable, and affirmed its BB-minus long-term foreign currency, BB-plus long-term local currency and single-B short-term local and foreign currency ratings." At least someone thinks that things are going better in Peru.

Florida Times Union / AP Extradition ordered for woman accused of helping Montesinos: "Magistrate Judge Barry Garber ordered that Liliana del Carmen Pizaro de la Cruz be extradited, but it was unclear when she would be sent to Peru. Pizaro has no direct appeal of the extradition order, but she can file a separate petition to try to thwart the move. The public defender's office, which represents her, did not immediately return a call for comment." This woman accompanied Montesinos on the yatch that took him to Costa Rica from Lima.

Union City Reporter Finger-painting: WNY library displays students' artwork: "'West New York resident Janet Diaz, who arrived from Peru almost two years ago, began painting the same way most of her students did; by taking classes after school. Today, Perez is the teacher. Perez, along with partner Larry D'Arringo, teach about 15 students out of a studio in her West New York home." Two Peruvians make good with kids painting. By the way, the reporter seems to have trouble handling Spanish paternal and maternal last names becuase Janet Diaz sometimes is referred to as Perez.

Personal Tours
Sometimes it takes someone (like me) 16 years to get to know a country. Other times, someone can breeze through the country in a few weeks and obtain a unique vision of the country, especially if he/she has a camera along for the ride. Andrys Basten's Machu Picchu PhotoDiary is an example of that approach. She also has a list of other travelers who have done the same, emphasizing travelogues and photos. I also liked her recommended books.

Crosswalk President Of Peru Apologizes to Freed Prisoners: "President Alejandro Toledo of Peru took the historic step of apologizing to all those who have been released after being wrongfully imprisoned for terrorist offences... He invited 726 people who were condemned for terrorism or treason and who had served long prison sentences to the Presidential Palace on Jan. 15." This is a piece of good news that slipped through the filters.

Financial Times Peru prepares first bond issue for 74 years: "But Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, finance minister, hinted that the bond issue could be combined with a buy-back of some of Peru's Brady bonds - which total around $3.5bn - to allow Peru to take advantage of new financing rates which, Mr Kuczynski estimates, are between 50 to 100 basis points cheaper. Peru currently pays a 9.5 per cent interest on its Brady bonds." PPK better cash in on his international rep while he can.

Financial Times Wounds persist despite Peru's public love-fest: "The problem for the ruling party' dissidents is that Mr Dañino, a highly respected US corporate lawyer and his ally, finance minister Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, also from 'Popular Action' and a former US fund manager, are seen to be steering the government away from the populist ideology that brought it to power in the first place, analysts said. 'Mr Toledo is therefore in the uncomfortable position of having to fulfil his fulsome election promises, while placating both his increasingly restless party and the pro-market demands of the fiscally orthodox Mr Dañino and Mr Kuczynski,' a well-placed diplomatic source said. The two men have been crucial in establishing Peru's credibility abroad." A detailed analysis about the tension between the Cabinet and Congress.

Financial Times Peru urges Bolivia to develop joint petrochemical industry: "During bilateral talks in La Paz on Friday, Mr Toledo set out his plan for 'a strategic alliance' between the two Andean states. The alliance would come together to build a plant which both countries could use for processing their natural gas: 'We are not competitors but we complement each other,' Mr Toledo was reported as saying on Peruvian radio." More details on Toledo's trip to Bolivia and proposed initiatives for natural gas resources.

CNN / Reuters Peru judge shoots down Toledo DNA paternity test: "Kcomt, a family judge in Orozco's northern hometown of Piura, had ruled last year that Toledo was not required to take the DNA test. But that decision was thrown out on a technicality. In Friday's ruling, Kcomt said Orozco had not presented any new evidence." As with most presidential scandals, this case will not go away while Toledo is in power.

LA Times In a Gray Light, Lima's Softer Side Shines: "Lonely Planet pulls no punches in its description: Poor. Crowded. Gridlocked. Noisy. Dirty. Polluted. Flat. Gray. Boring. Nerve-racking. Welcome to Peru's 467-year-old capital, a.k.a. 'The City of Kings.' Oh, and, watch out for thieves and pickpockets. They're everywhere. OK, so Lima's no day at Zuma Beach. It's no wonder most travelers avoid it or fly in and out as quickly as possible to glorious Cuzco, the ancient two-mile-high gateway to the magnificent Incan ruins of Machu Picchu. But as photographer Steven Adams and I discovered when we went in mid-October, Lima is an excellent place for Americans to encounter Peruvian culture, shop for bargains and experience the mad human rush of a first-class Third World city. And you can do all three without putting your life, health or credit card in any danger." This article confirms what we always knew about my old home town.

Oil News / AP Peru Offers Help for Oil Exports: "[President Alejandro] Toledo began a three-day visit to neighboring Bolivia late Thursday, and immediately began lobbying the landlocked nation to choose a Peruvian port over a Chilean one to export its natural gas to Mexico and the United States." I have never understood why Peru has not bent over backwards to get Bolivia to route its trade through Peru, instead of the Chilean port of Arica. It would be an important axis for development of Southern Peru. The Peruvian side of the Altiplano is already closely integrated economically, socially and culturally with the Bolivian side.

Nando Times / AP Peruvian court issues second arrest warrant for Fujimori: "Justice Jose Lecaros told the Radioprogramas radio station that he sent the warrant to Interpol Thursday for charges that Fujimori illegally paid his former spy chief Vladimiro Montesinos $15 million to leave his post without a fight." All the warrants in the world is not going to make Japan hand over Fujimori.

Global Sources / Inter Press Service Textile Industry Hopes for Access to U.S. Market: "'The mixed commission that will travel to Washington will try to surmount the impact of the Osama (bin Laden) factor -- as it has been dubbed by Peru's textile owners -- which has stood in the way of renewal of ATPA and could favor textile factories and cotton-growers in Pakistan,' said the economist [Luis Abugattas]. Textiles from Pakistan represent stiff competition for Peruvian-made goods, even within Peru itself." It's going to be hard to get Washington's attention these days.

CourtTV Amiga to Amiga? reporter visits an American in prison in Peru: "I was fascinated by the plight of Lori Berenson. We both grew up miles from each other in a similarly Jewish, middle-class household. In my twenties, I, too, was fascinated with Latin culture and lived for a while in both Venezuela and Argentina. But I wondered how this Lori ended up serving a life sentence in some of the toughest prisons in Peru." I linked to this article about six months ago, but the interview has reappeared. The page also links to an excerpt from Lori: My Daughter, Wrongfully Imprisoned in Peru, Rhoda Berenson's book. You can also check out my Berenson page.

Thursday, January 24

Abilene Reporter News El Niño stirs hope for rains on plains:"Lima, Peru, is far removed from Tuscola, but the water temperature off the South American city’s coastline has a lot to do with how often people around here use their umbrellas." Far south meets Mid West in the global impact of weather and climate.

Christian Science Monitor Tubers' cultural roots drying out in Peru: "As a result, Peru is draining a gene pool of potatoes that one day may play a crucial role in breeding. Equally troubling, it's deflating, bit by bit, mountain traditions that have lasted millennia. Researchers are trying to reverse the decline, but their success may depend on consumers rather than farmers. So far, the prognosis isn't good." Genetic diversity has been under threat from modern breeds and consumer habits.

Tuesday, January 22

National Security Archive Peru in The Eye of the Storm: "Access to declassified U.S. government documents would provide a significant contribution to the Commission's efforts. A wealth of records exist within the archives of the various U.S. governmental agencies (Department of State, Department of Defense, CIA, DIA, DEA, etc.) which could shed abundant light on a range of key issues relating to human rights in Peru, including social, political and economic developments; U.S.-Peru relations; the origins of the civil conflict; details on specific human rights cases and information on the Peruvian intelligence and security apparatus controlled by Montesinos." These 38 documents respond to request from the Townsend Committee in the Peruvian Congress investing Vladimiro Montesinos.

CNN / AP American woman imprisoned in Peru appeals sentence: "Presiding Justice Guillermo Cabala adjourned the session after listening to brief arguments from Sandoval and state's attorney Ysaias Tamayo. The panel has three to 15 working days to reach a decision, Supreme Court spokesman Andiolo Zevallos said." Lori Berenson continues saying that she is a political prisoner who was convicted because of her support for social justice.

Monday, January 21

MSNBC / Reuters Top Peru court to hear Berenson appeal Tuesday: "A court official said on Monday the Supreme Court would hear Berenson's appeal at 8:00 a.m. local time 8 a.m. EDT/ (1300 GMT) on Tuesday and could confirm the sentence, reduce it, annul it and order a retrial or free her. Under new rules, the court cannot increase her sentence." A chance to get a change in sentencing for Lori Berenson.

Sunday, January 20

CNET / Reuters French utility Suez eyes Peru's Sedapal: "He said Suez could supply quality water to Peru's shanty towns -- many of which lack basic utilities -- or provide water much more cheaply than was currently the case, as well as offering better benefits to workers. De Silguy, a former European Commissioner, said Suez would be interested in a concession, not a privatization. The group already has energy, water and cleaning interests in Peru." Sedepal is not listed as one of the state companies that the Toledo government wants to sell off.

Saturday, January 19

Nando Times / AP "At least 14 dead after Peruvian jungle settlement attacked: Two hundred Indians from the Aguaruna tribe armed with shotguns raided the settlement, some 500 miles northwest of Lima near the border with Ecuador, survivors of Thursday's early morning attack said...The Indian villagers were apparently trying to expel landless peasants who began settling the area in 1989, according to El Comercio, Peru's leading newspaper." Friction between settlers from the Andean highlands and the Amazon tribes have been a constant over decades. Amazon tribes, like the Aguaruna, have been losing to population pressure and the expansion of "civilization."

Thursday, January 17

Guardian / AP Peru President Shuffles Cabinet: "Attorney Aurelio Loret de Mola will take over the defense department. Vice Health Minister Fernando Carbone assumes the health post. And Cecilia Blondet, the director of a Lima think tank, will be the new minister for women's affairs." Toledo tries to finetune the cabinet.

Wednesday, January 16

Daily Soccer / AFP Peru sack coach: "Julio Cesar Uribe was sacked as coach of the Peruvian national side Wednesday after failing to guide them to this year's World Cup finals." The dismissal was expected. Uribe never convinced me that he knew what he was doing as a coach. Peru will probably return to a foreign coach for the national team.

Monday, January 14

CNet / Reuters Peru mining town looks beyond environmental mess: "U.S. metals firm Doe Run, took up the challenge of transforming the dismal landscape around La Oroya four years ago with a raft of environmentally-friendly initiatives. But environmentalists warn that those pledges could be in vain if the metal working and refining operations are not reined in." For more than 80 years, few people wanted to recognize the damage that mining was doing to the Andean environment. It's intriguing that that the latest owner is willing to try to make amends. It will require huge investments.

Miami Herald / AP Peruvians look to root to boost energy: "Nutritionists say the root [maca] packs a powerful dose of amino acids, vitamins and minerals, particularly magnesium and phosphorous. But no major independent studies have been published about its effects." Maca is supposed to increase your sexual energy, among othe worthy attributes. It's one of the Andean crops that Western agriculture has ignored for centuries. Check out my plant diversity page.

indieWire "The Dancer Upstairs," John Malkovich's Intense Debut: "John Malkovich's intensely cinematic directorial debut 'The Dancer Upstairs' weaves a compelling variation on one of the most violent pre-Al Qaeda terrorist movements: the story of Peru's post-Maoist terrorists, Sendero Luminoso (The Shining Path), and the capture of Abimael Guzman, their messianic leader, in the 1980s." I have not read Nicholas Shakespeare's novel that provides the story for this picture, but I did meet him when he did a journalistic piece back in the mid-1980s about searching for Guzman. I suspect that this picture is more about a personal drama than tracking down Chairman Gonzalo.

Sunday, January 13

Newsweek The FARC’s Fifth Column: "The discovery of FARC movements well inside Peru suggests that rebel commanders have been anticipating a complete breakdown of the peace process for months. Elements of Colombia’s largest guerrilla army have long hopscotched across porous borders with Ecuador, Panama, Peru and Venezuela to elude counterinsurgency units. But never before have FARC units penetrated so deeply into a neighbor’s hinterland. The guerrillas’ agenda in Peru is not only to create a fallback position; NEWSWEEK has learned that the rebels hope to help revive both of Peru’s dormant guerrilla movements as well."

NYTimes New Chance for Peru's Chief to Take Reins: "Yet those problems suddenly seem minor in comparison with Argentina's meltdown, and indeed with Peru's recent past. Political experts say that Mr. Toledo now has the opportunity to sort things out and improve his standing and effectiveness. This week, he consulted with political and civic leaders to forge a consensus that would form the base of his legislative programs. The opposition, while strong, is listening." An interesting look at the political situation, not just another story about how Toledo's popularity has plummeted.

Friday, January 11

NY Times Fujimori, the Exile, Repackages His Peruvian Past: "The exiled Peruvian's powerful friends in Japan include Shintaro Ishihara, Tokyo's conservative governor, and Ryutaro Hashimoto, a former prime minister and the leader of a large parliamentary faction. 'Fujimori is very strongly protected by the Japanese right,' Mr. Álvarez, the journalist, said at the embassy reception this evening. Out of earshot of the ambassador, he added in a low voice, 'No one is going to get him out of here.' As a measure of his popularity in Japan, Mr. Fujimori managed to make Peru one of Japan's top foreign aid recipients in the 1990's, getting about $3 billion in the decade. But since his ouster, Japan's foreign aid to Peru has plummeted to one- tenth of that level." The author of this piece, James Brooks, used to cover Peru for several newspaper so he has the perspective to write well about Fujimori in Japan. The NY Times requires registration, but it's free.

Thursday, January 10

iWon / Reuters U.S. Predicts New El Nino Weather Pattern in 2002: "Some weather forecasters were surprised by the early El Nino prediction. 'This is unusual. El Nino developments don't usually show this early in the year,' said Steven Mauget, meteorologist for the U.S. Agriculture Department. Usually the earlier they develop, the stronger they tend to be.'" There's already been a drop off in fishing in November last year. However, other experts the tempature shift in the waters of the Peruvian coast have not been as significant as in the previous outbreak.

Forbes / Reuters Peru economic growth believed over 2.5 pct in December: "[Finance Minister Pedro Pablo] Kuczynski told El Comercio that economic recovery would come not only from greater government spending -- Toledo has announced a plan to boost infrastructure in this poor nation -- but also from the key mining sector and even a struggling construction industry." The boost in mining came from the Antamina project coming online so the upswing will be focalized.

Japan Times Fujimori gives lecture at university in Tokyo: "University officials defended their invitation to the scandal-tainted ex-president. 'What is going on in Peru is nothing that a private university in Japan should be involved in,' professor Toshio Watanabe told reporters after Fujimori's lecture. 'Japan has freedom of speech. We believe we should give someone like Mr. Fujimori an opportunity to speak.'" Fujimori spoke about how he defeated leftist guerrillas in the 1990s.

Yahoo / AP Ambassador Defends U.S. on Spy Chief: "In one, embassy officials said they received a report from an unidentified former military intelligence officer only days after Fujimori took office in 1990 that Montesinos was organizing paramilitary death squads to fight leftist rebels. 'I don't think you can rightly say that the government I represent kept quiet,' Hamilton told reporters. 'If you read the human rights reports that the State Department publishes every year, the abuses that were committed are fully denounced there.'" We should also distringuish between what the State Department thought of Montesinos and what the CIA thought.

Tuesday, January 8

Reuters Fujimori to emerge from seclusion in Japan: "Fujimori will stay on at Takushoku University as visiting professor after delivering his speech on his 'fight against terrorism' next Thursday, they said on Friday." The Peru Section of the Latin American Studies Association (LASA) is up in arms that an institute of higher learning would dirty its hands and classrooms with a fallen strongman. The group may issue a petition. They have my signature. There is also an article in the Daily Yomiuri.

Houston Chronicle / AP U.S. questioned relationship with jailed Peruvian : "U.S. officials, the diplomatic cables show, valued the spymaster as an important player in the war on drugs but also considered him a possible liability with 'a significant amount of negative baggage.'" Isn't the language of diplomatic messages so quaint?

NY Times Lima Street Vendors Caught Between Police and Poverty: "Her lament is common among millions of Latin Americans struggling to survive in packed cities beset by sour economies, poor government planning and the politics of personality and handouts. The economic benefits that leaders hoped to achieve by privatizing state enterprises, wooing investors, modernizing government and embracing open markets have eluded the poor, whose only marketplace has been the teeming bazaars and impassable side streets of the cities." How depressing. I can remember writing stories like this one 25 years ago. Some things never change -- even the quotes from Hernando de Soto. Thanks to Jamie Foster for pointing me to this story.

Monday, January 7

World Bank Using Information Technology to Promote Good Governance in Peru: "[Carlos] Wendorff cites the widespread publicity surrounding corruption in the Fujimori government as a strong catalyst behind the creation of the Public Window and the current government's willingness to participate. In addition to promoting public sector transparency, the project sought to strengthen the capacity of local government organizations (LGOs) by using technology to streamline their operations. Now, as a result, electronic database systems store important records, and email, previously scarcely used by government administrators, has become a popular communication tool within local government." Innovative uses of technology to increase the transparency of government.

Guardian / AP 2 Peru Inmates Had Keys to Cells: "Former newspaper executive Eduardo Calmell and former Congressman Alberto Kouri were found with the keys during a surprise inspection of their cells Thursday in San Jorge prison, he [Justice Minister Fernando Olivera] said."

Thursday, January 3

NY Times / AP More Than 250 Killed in Peru Fire: "Part of the problem, said Paul Maquet, city planner at Lima's Institute of Urban Development, is a lack of zoning enforcement in the downtown, with families often living perilously close to apartments converted into fireworks warehouses."

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