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Friday, May 31

Reuters Peru's Shining Path: new strategy, old politics: "Benedicto Jimenez, a police colonel who played a key role in capturing Shining Path leader Abimael Guzman in 1992, said the new plan of quietly joining together with other leftist groups aimed to secure an amnesty for militants to let them reenter political life and continue their war on the state." Jimenez has been reactivated into the police force and is working on a new preventative strategy against a Sendero resurgence.

Wednesday, May 29

iWon / Reuters Peru pollsters: jobs key for Toledo rating rebound: "While international observers cheered Toledo's pledges to combine market-friendly economic policy with social priorities, he has been hit by a tide of protests. Former state workers have marched to demand their jobs back, poor mothers want milk for their children and in the provinces residents and workers have protested an unpopular plan to raise up to $800 million this year by selling off state assets such as electricity generators." In a nutshell -- what Toledo is fighting against.

Forbes / Reuters AngloGold finds big gold deposit - Peru official: "South African mining company AngloGold has made a major gold discovery in southeastern Peru that this poor Andean nation hopes could turn out to be as promising as Yanacocha, the region's biggest gold mine, a Peruvian mining official said on Monday." The find is in Puno, but there is no news from the company.

MSNBC / Retuers Peru's ex-president Belaunde critical after stroke: "Belaunde, 89, a widely respected figure whose election in 1980 was a triumph over the military rulers who had ousted him in 1968, suffered the stroke on Friday. He was paralyzed down his left side, unable to eat or swallow, but conscious. 'We have to be realistic and consider that the possibility of him responding to treatment are fairly limited,' his physician, Carlos Vallejos, told reporters." With the passing of time, Belaunde's two terms in the presidency start to look better than those who succeeded him in power. He was a visionary who could not match his dreams with the realities of the country.

Monday, May 27

BBC Rescuers charged over Peru siege: "A Peruvian human rights attorney has filed murder charges against ex-spy chief Vladimiro Montesinos, the chief of the armed forces and 17 army officers for the alleged execution of three leftist rebels in 1997. The rebels were allegedly killed by military commandos after they surrendered during the rescue of 71 hostages from the Japanese ambassador's residence."

Sunday, May 26

NYTimes Weavers of Genius, Long Peru's Secret: "The show, the first comprehensive review outside Peru of Q'ero weaving, demonstrates the Q'ero Indians' mastery of the craft. It also shows how their images evolved over less than a century from figurative to abstract, about the same time that paintings by Western artists — Picasso, Braque and Mondrian — happened to be making the same journey." Q'ero lies near Cusco.

Friday, May 24 International Mining Threatens Future of Peruvian Town: "Local farmers have already been struggling against the proposed mine for over 3 years - as more than 75% of the district's 37,000 voters have signed a petition to block the mine. In addition, both Tambogrande's mayor and the local Archbishop have called for a halt to the mining project." On June 2, the local voters will cast their ballots for or against the mining project.

Thursday, May 23

iWon / Reuters Is Peru, "LatAm's condor," losing altitude?: "While many Peruvians fear the sales will bring layoffs and higher electricity bills, analysts say they are vital for the cash-starved state to secure needed revenues. Analysts said disappointing tax revenues, a hotly debated tax arrears law and regional tax exemptions could widen Peru's fiscal gap, which in the first quarter was 1.6 percent of GDP." This story is not about a wild-life recovery program, but the political future of President Alejandro Toledo.

Wednesday, May 22

Forbes / Reuters Impoverished Peru is a golden prospect for miners: "Barrick, the world's No. 2 producer after Denver, Colorado-based Newmont Mining Corp. , has just struck gold at Alto Chicama -- a find that it is billing as one of the most significant discoveries of the past decade. It says the deposit, which Peru had first classed as a coal resource before its 2001 privatization, has 3.5 million ounces, but a source close to Barrick who asked not to be identified told Reuters the group thought Alto Chicama could reach 6 million ounces." Here is repeated the old saying, Peru is a beggar sitting on a gold bench"," but this time it appears to be true.

Reuters Alertnet Peru focuses on deaths of rebels in hostage siege: "Testimony from two Peruvian police officers appeared to bolster allegations that at least some rebel hostage-takers were captured alive and then shot in cold blood at the climax of a 126-day siege that ended in 1997. The officers were quoted on Wednesday as saying they had been tipped off by a hostage that a senior rebel leader known as 'Tito' was trying to mingle in with freed hostages and had handed him over alive to an army commando in a ski mask." Evidence starts piling up.

Tuesday, May 21 Lost history revived: "half theater, half performance art piece, 'Strands' fuses video, spoken word and karate in an Asian American Theater Company production mounted to observe Asian Pacific Islander heritage month. This is a show about the chapter in history that some call ``hidden internment.'' While most of us have heard of Executive Order 9066, which authorized the incarceration of more than 110,000 Japanese-Americans, few know about what happened to people such as Quinones' grandfather. Kiichiro Yoshida was one of about 2,000 of Japanese ancestry who were taken from Latin America and interned in the United States during the war. A journalist living in Lima, he was torn from and never reunited with his family. After the war, he was not allowed to return home and was deported to Japan, where he began a new life." A Peruvian of Japanese ancestry gives a leason about how history drives a wedge between family members.

NY Times / Reuters Peru Rethinks Order for Arrest of Officers in '97 Rescue Raid: "The justice minister, Fernando Olivera, told reporters that he hoped the prosecutor would ask a judge to change the arrest order to a summons for the officers, adding that the Defense Ministry could vouch for their cooperation. A 12th officer has already been arrested." The government softens its position.

Sunday, May 19

Graduate News
My son, Matthew, graduated from George Washington University this weekend. He majored in geography, and has specialized in geographic information systems (GIS). Hopefully, that skill set will get him a good-paying job since he's going to have to pay off a lot of school loans -- he has two years at GWU. When he finished up with high school, we did not think he would get this far. Until his junior and senior years at Roosevelt High in Lima, he seemed inclined to melt into the background, but slowly he started showing flashes. He did not have the grades to get into a good college. He just wanted to go to a college near where his girlfriend was studying -- Boston. After two semesters there, he learned he could handle it -- and more. And he broke up with his girlfriend. He returned to the family fold because we couldn't afford to carry the school expense, but he worked full time and studied at the local community college. After a year, he got into GWU.

Reuters We're Not Murderers, Two Peru Commandos Say: "La Republica newspaper on Friday quoted an unnamed military source as saying that two officers close to Montesinos, joined the mission and were responsible for executing rebels on the spy chief's orders." It's hard to believe these commando's protestations of innocence, given Peru's history of human rights abuses. On the other hand, this rescue operation was so high profile that it's doubtful that anyone but a commanding officer or an officer from another unit would have risked killing captured rebels.

Xinhua 13 Former Military Officers Under House Arrest for Corruption: "A house arrest warrant was issued against 13 former military officers who were accused of diverting public funds for the National Intelligence Service (SIN), a judicial spokesman said on Saturday. Former Joint Chief of Staff Pablo Carbone and 12 other officers were being investigated by Judge Jimena Cayo for their alleged involvement in the illegal channeling of 32.4 million U.S. dollars to SIN, which had been commanded by former presidential adviser Vladimiro Montesinos, the spokesman said." Funny how the Chinese news agency always seems to pick up this kind of news from Peru.

CNET / AP Peru's gold-diggers scrape out meager existence: "A day in the life of a Peruvian gold-digger starts even before the sun is fully up as the miners, their picks slung over their shoulders and carrying food and offerings for the gods, climb nearby hills to their seams inside deep tunnels. Just like the miners of the ancient Inca empire, whose fabled riches lured thousands of Spanish conquistadors, the miners kneel on the ground to ask permission from Pachamama (Mother Earth in the Andean language, Quechua) to wound her with their digging." A nice color piece that contrasts a gold-mining convention in Lima and the plight of poor gold miners in the Andean foothills.

CNN / Reuters Peruvian government labels strike a "flop": "Toledo's government has been beset by near daily marches and demonstrations by disgruntled job-hunters demanding he fulfill campaign pledges of 'more work' in a poor Andean nation where 55 percent of people scrape a living on $1.25 a day. Tuesday's action was also in protest of the privatization of two southern electricity generators that residents fear will lead to higher bills and workers fear will spark layoffs. Despite an economy turning the corner out of three years of stagnation, the feel-good factor is still lagging and unemployment plus underemployment top 50 percent, Toledo's popularity has plummeted. According to the latest polls, 71 percent of Peruvians disapprove of him." Just trying to catch up on old news, the attempt at a national work stoppage a few days ago. Regional leaders do not like the government putting up local electricity companies for sale.

Forbes / Reuters Peru cement output in April up 32 pct on-year: "Meanwhile, total sales in April increased 28.7 percent on-year to 334,822 tonnes. Total cement production dropped 2.9 percent in 2001 compared with 2000." Aside from major construction projects, like highways, growth can come from shanty towns where many residents almost immediately turn their savings into brick and mortar.

Guardian / AP Peru Congressman: Warrant Part of Ploy: "Jose Barba Caballero, an opposition congressman, said some government officials argue that the Japanese ambassador's residence was Japanese territory and so any alleged crimes committed there would have to be tried in Japan. He said the government is using such a scenario to make Fujimori face human rights charges in Japan." Part of the political games being played around the Japanese embassy rescue.

CNN / AP Peruvian rebels executed in 1997 raid: "The report by the Peruvian Institute of Forensic Anthropology was based on an examination of the remains of the 14 rebels exhumed last year. Although the report has not been officially released, it has been excerpted in various local media reports." Despite what the evidence may indicate, charges against the commando members is going to result in a political facedown.

Washington Post Captive Parents From the first, Lori Berenson has refused to admit and repent of the charges made against her. 'She has such integrity,' says [Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.)]. 'She will not admit to committing a crime she did not commit.' Secretary of State Colin Powell, who also met with Toledo, told him that the Berenson case would be a number one priority, an expression that thrilled the parents." Post columnist writes her second article about the plight of Lori Berenson. Here is her first article.

Human Rights Watch Peru: Amnesty for Embassy Siege Killings Unacceptable: "Recent forensic investigations, however, have established that eight of the guerrillas were apparently shot in the head after capture or while defenseless because of injuries. A Japanese former hostage declared that he saw one of the guerrillas, Eduardo Cruz Sánchez, alive and in custody after the raid. Forensic examination revealed that Cruz died from a single bullet to the back of the neck." Also see HRW's review of Peru's most recent human rights performance.

Sunday, May 12

National Georgrpahic Inca Traditions Pay Off for Peruvian Weavers: "With CTTC, Callanaupa says, knowledge is preserved through teaching and some of the best weavings remain part of the permanent collection. The Inca valued weaving and their descendants have continued the traditions—each village has its own designs and patterns that have been handed down over the centuries. As the young women here learn to weave, they're also gaining financial independence." This story highlights the work of the Center for Traditional Textiles of Cusco, mainly in the town of Chincheros.

National Geographic News Ancient Peru Torture Deaths: Sacrifices or War Crimes?: "When the graves at a Moche temple complex in northern Peru were uncovered, the human remains showed many clear marks of violence. Various theories arose to explain it. One proposes that the Moche sacrificed some of their own people to appease the gods and improve the fertility of their land. Another suggests that the victims were enemies of the Moche executioners—losers of fierce power struggles between competing prehistoric city-states—who were ritually murdered." Forensic work into Peru's past.

Wired No Longer Lonely at the Top: "Torres, who directs ecotourism and community projects in Huaraz, wrestles with many of the same problems faced by trek leaders in Nepal. How do you ensure that tourist dollars go to the towns on their path, and not just to the city-based tour agencies or hotels that do the booking? How do you keep tourist traffic from eroding fragile hillsides and denuding upland forests for firewood? In 1994, Torres joined the Mountain Forum, an online resource dedicated to the concerns shared by people in the hills. She was glad to find others like Chhetri." High mountain tourism and the Internet has a Peruvian angle. The Mountain Forum is supported by the International Potato Center in Peru.

Washington Post New U.S. Ambassador Chosen for Peru: "John R. Dawson, who now heads the department's office of Mexican affairs and was No. 2 at the embassy in El Salvador, is the pick to be ambassador to Peru." The note is at the bottom of the page.

National Greographic News Mummies Day Special: "Postcards" From the Dead: "The more than 2,000 mummies of men, women, and children, and the excellent condition of their clothing and artifacts buried with them, are expected to yield so much information that Cock predicts Inca history will be rewritten. The story of the Lima mummies will be featured in a new National Geographic Television documentary that premieres in the United States on May 15." Catch the feature on a PBS station near you. Microsoft convicted of software piracy: "But the Redmond giant's conviction and three million franc (£285,000) fine somehow managed to escape the headlines. In fact, until today the only place the story has appeared is in French newspaper Le Monde Informatique. And the only person who noticed the irony of the world's most aggressive anti-piracy firm being fined for piracy was Peruvian congressman Edgar David Villanueva Nunez." The Peruvian congress gets mixed up in a geek dispute with Microsoft.

Forbes / Reuters Peru Montesinos: Chile company donated to Fujimori: "Montesinos is accused of running a network of bribes and back-room deals with politicians, businessmen, military chiefs and judges during Fujimori's hard-line 1990-2000 presidency. He said Lucchetti made the donation a year after a Peruvian court ruled in favor of the Chilean company in a controversial lawsuit over a factory it built on a Lima nature reserve.
Montesinos, who since he was jailed in June has named dozens of people he claims were involved in illegal schemes, said he and Fujimori helped rig the ruling." Montesinos confirms what had always been expected -- that the Fujimori regime sold favors to corporate investors to get the desired results from courts and congress.

Financial Times Peru finance minister vows to defy union opposition: "Mr Kuczynski was forced on to the defensive this week as the opposition threatened him with a summons to a parliamentary grilling and a censure motion. He told the FT, however, that he expected to survive since the opposition lacked the necessary votes to carry it through and he would not give in to leftwing opposition pressure to resign. Mr Kuczynski said he planned to remain in office for some months more but hinted that he might not stay the full two years he agreed to serve when appointed last year. 'I certainly expect to be here past mid-year. [To leave in] July would be too soon. But there are other people who can do the job,' he said. Even so, most analysts agree that his departure would increase investor jitters." about Peru." PPK gives credibility abroad, but is a lightning rod for protest in Peru.

Washington Post / AP Peru Still Owes Montesinos Reward: "Peru's deputy interior minister, Gino Costa, said that three men are in the running for the reward money and that their bids are being meticulously reviewed. 'I think we'll be in a position to announce the payment soon,' Costa said. Costa said the three claimants are Luis Percovich, a Peruvian-American vice president at Pacific Credit Corp. of Florida; Orlando Laufer, a Venezuelan private investigator; and Jose Guevara, a former Venezuelan police officer who was Montesinos' hired bodyguard in Venezuela ." Even if you split the $5 million, it's still a nice windfall.

Forbes / Retuers Peru Congress nixes motion against economy minister: "Leading opposition party American Popular Revolutionary Party, or APRA, presented a motion last week in favor of a congressional review in which the fiscally conservative Kuczynski would be grilled on his management of Peru's struggling economy. But late Thursday, only 35 lawmakers in Peru's 120-member Congress, led by President Alejandro Toledo's Peru Posible party, voted in favor of the motion, falling far short of the two-thirds needed. Fifty-one voted against the motion, and 14 legislators abstained. Such a review could end in a vote to oust the minister, which would require a simple majority." This article and the following oneshould be read together as part of the political winds in Peru. That "only" 35 legislators of the ruling party shows how slim Toledo's hold on the Congress is. His coalition is loose and shallow.

Forbes / Reuters Delay won't derail Peru privatizations--minister: "'Some of the bidders needed a little more time and I believe it's a perfectly reasonable request that will in no way derail the (electric utility privatization) process under way,' Pedro Pablo Kuczynski told RPP radio. He said the unexpected third postponement of the $156 million joint sale of electric generators Egasa and Egesur, part of the poor nation's plan to raise up to $800 million this year to help meet fiscal goals, would not scare off investors." PPK does not have the political punch to ram through privatizations like Fujimori had in the previous decade when he had a stranglehold on Congress and the media.

South Florida Sun-Sentinel / Reuters
Cultivating digital landscape
"Peru's Plan Huascaran -- named for the Andean nation's highest peak -- was a key campaign plank for President Alejandro Toledo, the U.S.-trained economist who took office in July pledging to help fight poverty and vanquish unemployment and underemployment that together top 50 percent. Plan Huascaran has connected about 100 rural and urban schools across Peru with top-end Internet service and teaching tools. The government intends to increase that to 5,000 schools by the time Toledo's term ends in 2006." This plan is a high-profile initiative of Toledo.

AlertNet / Reuters Experts disagree whether El Niño is back in Peru: "One of the scientists on the committee, Dr Ronald Woodman, executive president of the Geophysics Institute, told AlertNet that current sea temperature was two degrees Celsius above its normal level. He said this would be defined as a 'weak' El Niño impact, but taking into account the intense rains and greater water flows, it could be described as a 'moderate' El Niño.'There are serious infrastructure problems in Piura. That's what leads to the considerable damage,' he said. According to Woodman, there were no adequate flood prevention defences along the river." The difference between weak and moderate is not just an academic distinction.

ZdNet / Reuters Peru launching export e-commerce site: "PROMPEX hopes the program will reverse a recent downward slide for Peruvian exports, which fell 3.2 percent year-on-year in the first quarter to $1.54 billion. Peruvian exports were $7.1 billion last year, up 1 percent from 2000. International sales from growing industries like textiles are seen as key for helping Latin America's seventh largest economy recover from a three-year downturn and hit this year's growth goal of 3.5 percent to 4.0 percent." Peru needs to exploit all the angles to keep exports flowing because it has always been the motor of the economy. In the past two years, the government has been savvy in using the web, both on the domestic front and internationally.

Sunday, May 5

Apologies for the Disconnect

I want to explain why this log has not been updated recently -- and why it has been off-line for the past three days. I switched my hosting service from a Windows NT server to a Unix server that was cheaper and allowed me to provide hosting services to a few friends who wanted me to help them get on the Web. I had been caught up in work and school tasks, and did not prepare the new site for change-over. Then my hosting service switched over and the result was that GCI 275 went offline for at least 24 hours. It also took a while for the new IP address to perculate through the Internet.

I stayed up until 4:00 AM from Friday to Saturday, trying to get it fixed. There was a lot more work than I ever anticipated. I didn't get this blog to run until 9:00 PM on Sunday. A tip of the hat has to go to Interland's support staff who saw me through the ordeal with a lot of patience.

Thursday, May 2

Mission of Peace

I have put up a page with the speech of Salamon Lerner, the President of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. He gave it in London on February 14, 2002. The document in English came to me from the Peru Section of the Latin American Studies Association.

Wednesday, May 1

Miami Herald Peru-controlled newspaper would hurt press, group says: "Vargas has asked a judge to appoint a trustee to take over the management of Expreso because of the charges against Calmell del Solar, who has admitted to the bribes. Vargas argues that Calmell del Solar used the money to prop up Expreso, thereby corrupting the daily. The press association argues that the move to name a state trustee would violate the rights of the daily's majority shareholder. Calmell del Solar owns only 13 percent of Expreso's shares. Expreso's readership has dwindled to less than 30,000 since the corruption scandal broke more than a year ago." The government is in a tough position -- how can you push corruption in the media when those moves are viewed as an encroachment on the freedom of the press.

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