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Wednesday, July 31

Miami Herald Peru's Toledo exhorts restive nation to be calm: "Toledo, who is entering his second year in office, told his compatriots to expect better economic times and forecast that new trade benefits with the United States would create a million new jobs. He exhorted Peruvians not to turn against democracy." It became hard for me to find some text that I wanted to highlight from this story. Toledo just does not provide journalists many angles from which to look at him.

Monday, July 29

Yahoo / Reuters Toledo Makes Mea Culpa, Tells Peru: Be Patient: "In a two-hour state of the nation speech on his first anniversary in office, the unpopular president vowed not to fall into the trap of populist promises, though he did announce cheap housing for some of Peru's poorest, an 'all-out war' on contraband and a new drive to promote products made in Peru." This is the best piece that I've seen so far about Toledo's State of the Nation speech.

CNN / AP Peru's Toledo criticizes self for lackluster first year: "Toledo praised the expansion of the Andean Trade Preference Act, or ATPA, which the U.S. House of Representatives renewed Saturday. The decade-old agreement, which expired last year, gives Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru duty-free access to U.S. markets for some products -- including certain fruits and vegetables, textiles and alpaca and llama wool." Toledo's State of the Nation speech did not have many highlights as far as I can see in the wire coverage. He can't promise new programs until he fulfills the old promises, and they have yet to get past the implementation stage.

Washington Post Peru Coming Unraveled: "Toledo's slide is highly significant. It offers further evidence of Latin America's continuing deterioration on many fronts. Indeed, what Peru is experiencing reflects a deeper malaise that is gripping much of the region. Privatization controversies such as the one in Arequipa are, for many Latin Americans, symptomatic of failed recipes devised and imposed from abroad, especially Washington, with national governments seen as willing accomplices." Mike Shifter from the Inter-American Dialogue -- and someone who knows Peru well -- contributed this op-ed piece. It repeats the consensus line, but from a pulpit that makes it easier to be heard here in Washington.

Sunday, July 28

NY Times Peru's Leader Is Struggling as Popularity Falls Sharply: "Analysts and even those within the president's own party, Peru Possible, attribute the steep decline in Mr. Toledo's popularity to a first year in office characterized by unfulfilled pledges and indecision that has left people disappointed and his government in disarray." It's safe to say that there is a consensus in all media about what's bugging Peru and Alejandro Toledo. You hear it repeated over and over again: he's indecisive and promises too much. Some would even say that he doesn't take his responsibilities seriously.

Saturday, July 27

Happy Birthday, Peru!

Tomorrow is the anniversary of Peru's independence. I remember it fondly because I sat in front of a TV listening to the president's State of the Nation address when I was working as a journalist. I then had to write an article for the Post or the Times of London. I never went on holiday outings or other adventures. What's more, it was a favorite time for Sendero or MRTA to set off bombs or carry out an attack. So July 28 was a regular work day for me.

Happy Birthday, Stephanie!

Today is my daughter's birthday. Everyday, learning something new about herself and the world.

Washington Post Weavers Of Ancient Andean Traditions: "The oldest pieces, which date from the late 19th century, are the most compelling to anyone fascinated by ancient Peruvian civilization they evoke. They are decorated with fierce men known as ch'unchu. These fanciful feathered Indians supposedly lived down below in the tropical forest. In full figure, with carefully delineated eyes and mouth, they were fearsome fellows -- even when woven to be two inches tall." Washington discovers Andean culture -- at least, a slice of it.

Microsoft's Big Stick in Peru: "Congressman Edgar Villanueva, the bill's chief sponsor, said he considers Hamilton's letter to be 'overt pressure' on Peru by the United States and Microsoft. If so, the letter would continue the long-standing U.S. tradition of meddling in Latin American affairs, political analysts say. In his June letter, Hamilton said that while the United States doesn't oppose the development of open-source software, it prefers to support a free market where the quality of the product can determine the issue."

Friday, July 26

WorldOil Camisea boost from Algeria: "The minister visited Camisea, in Peru's southern jungle, on Monday. He says Algeria has the right know-how -- Algeria has three big liquefaction plants and Sonatrach has long experience in the production and export of liquid natural gas. He said a liquefaction plant would help Peru export Camisea gas to markets such as the United States." It's been 20 years since I started hearing what a great thing Camisea is going to be for Peru -- and about as long since I started hearing horror stories about its environmental impact.

Miami Herald / AP Peru's Toledo Completes First Year: "'Democracy - with difficulties and with many problems - is being repaired,' said Juan Manuel Guillen, mayor of Arequipa, Peru's second-largest city. 'That is the positive tally' of Toledo's first year. 'The negative part is that the conditions for instability and ungovernability persist. I think that is an enormous risk for the future of the country.' Guillen played a key role in what has so far been the pivotal event of Toledo's administration: six days of violent protests in Arequipa last month that left two people dead, dozens injured and parts of the city destroyed."

CNN / Reuters Fujimori finds love on the run: "Shukan Shincho magazine said this week that Fujimori, who has taken refuge in Japan since November 2000 when he was sacked as president, had fallen in love with a Japanese woman 30 years his junior. Full-page photographs showed the 63-year-old at a restaurant with a long-haired woman whom the magazine said was his hotel manager girlfriend." Peruvian politics has always seemed like a soap opera (telenovela) so this twist to the plot should not come as a surprise.

Thursday, July 25

BBC Lima reeling after deadly disco blaze: "Authorities said there were about 1,000 revellers in the club at the time, although its capacity was meant to be 400. Local media said there was complete panic in the club, with people throwing alcohol rather than water on to the flames, causing the fire to spread." I have not posted a link on this story until now. It's that kind of story that the wire agencies cover intensively with updates every hour.

Chicago Tribune / Retuers Fujimori faces Peru genocide charge: "The government said 215,227 women had tubal ligations, a surgery that blocks the tubes between a woman's ovaries and her uterus, preventing her from becoming pregnant. The ministry said some women, many of whom were poor or illiterate, had been 'tricked,' 'obligated or intimidated' into having the surgery as a form of birth control, often under unsafe medical conditions." The word "genocide" has been bandied around with too much frequency in Peru for the past three decades. Of course, forced sterilization is reprehensible, just as US health officials did it to black mentally ill in the 1930s.

Wednesday, July 24

Voice of America Fujimori Accused of Treason: "The accusations, made public Tuesday, stem from government purchases of outdated fighter planes during Peru's 1995 -1996 border conflict with Ecuador." Montesino got his kickback for this misguided purchase and the Congress is assuming that Fujimori did too.

Voice of America Peru's Conviction of Berenson Criticized: "Sebastian Brett is the Peru researcher for U.S.-based Human Rights Watch. He says the criticism highlights the need for Peru's President Alejandro Toledo to repeal some of the country's draconian anti-terrorism laws, which sent hundreds of suspected terrorists to jail."

Friday, July 19

Guardian / AP Ex-Fujimori Adviser to Open Office: "Former Fujimori press adviser Carlos Raffo said that he's opening the office at the end of July, initally to defend Fujimori against various accusations of wrongdoing in Peru. 'There should be no doubt: the goal is the return of Alberto Fujimori to Peru for the presidential campaign in 2006,' Raffo said in remarks published Thursday in Caretas, Peru's leading news magazine." That's astounding. In Peru, there's a word for this -- concha.

NY Times Still Poor, Latin Americans Protest Push for Open Markets: "Though she had never before protested, Ms. Puntaca said, she could not bear to see a Belgian company buy what she called 'our wealth' — the region's two state-owned electrical generators. So armed with a metal pot to bang, she joined neighbors in a demonstration so unyielding that it forced President Alejandro Toledo to declare a state of emergency here, suspend the $167 million sale and eventually shake up his cabinet."

CNN / Reuters Peruvian TV star investigated in corruption case: "Pena is investigating whether Bozzo illegally received $3 million from Montesinos to fund a support group for beaten wives and abused children called "Family Solidarity." She is also charged with receiving $10,000 a month to support Fujimori's 2000 reelection bid on a popular TV show in Peru." My wife and I have discussions about Laura all the time. She is fascinated by the program, while I dislike all the private issues displayed on TV in the most exploitative way. My wife thinks that Laura sticks up for the downtrodden and those without a voice. Laura has also opened up the US Hispanic market, with rebroadcasts of her Peruvian programs.

Flexing Some Muscle

My short little vacation is over. I have about 150 pages of reading to do for Saturday when I have my first class on Structured Computer Organization. This time I think I'm going to take more days off because I just can't do the coursework in the evenings and on Sundays. My body just can't take it. I fall asleep reading. What's more, I need to get more physically strong because the studies and workload require that my body have some bounce to it. I could tell at the end of my last course that I just did not have the endurance to finish off my last assignment. I keep saying that I would go to the gym or do my yoga until I got the school work back on track.

Thursday, July 18

Environmental News Network / Reuters Peru appeals for aid as freak cold snap kills 59: "Weather experts say the unusual cold is a clear indication of an impending El Niño weather phenomenon, an abnormal warming of waters in the eastern Pacific that occurs every four to five years and distorts wind and rainfall patterns. The last El Niño, in 1997-98, unleashed global floods and drought and caused some $3.5 billion damage in Peru."

NY Times / Reuters Dispute Rises in Peru's Handling of Lori Berenson's Terror Trial: "The commission has not made public its recommendation, but a respected lawyer and human rights expert who said he had seen the document called it 'very drastic' in its condemnation of laws introduced by the former president of Peru, Alberto K. Fujimori, who fled the country in 2000 after accusations of corruption and repression... But the lawyer said the commission blasted the very legal definition of what constituted terrorism or terrorist collaboration as 'a violation of human rights.' The lawyer also said the commission recommended that all evidence from both trials be thrown out, meaning any retrial would have to start over." The issue is that if Peru accepts that the anti-terrorism laws are in violation of human rights, that opens the floodgates for retrying all the terrorism convictions. That means going back over cases that may date back 10 years or more. It would be almost impossible to bring together all the evidence and witnesses again. In all probability, it would mean releasing a high percentage of all people convicted of terrorism. No Peruvian government wants to go down in history as having released Abimael Guzman.

Wednesday, July 17

CNN Debt canceled to preserve Peru rainforests: "Under the agreement, $5.5 million of Peru's debt to the United States is canceled, saving the Peruvian government about $14 million in future payments. 'They instead will pay $10 million in local currency into a trust fund in Peru that will benefit conservation,' Symington said. The U.S. funding is authorized by the Tropical Forest Conservation Act of 1998, which encouraged the reduction of foreign debt in exchange for a financial commitment to forest conservation." This is a great chance for Peruvian and US environmental groups to work together. Even a Republican administration can be eco-friendly.

Bill Gates makes a gift to Alejandro Toledo

Not sure of source of this photo

They're both smiling. See the note below about Microsoft's interest in Peruvian education and the threat from open source software that may be mandated by the Peruvian Congress.

Japan Today Fujimori cancels public appearance: "Officials familiar with the situation said Fujimori may have considered it wise to refrain from irritating the Peruvian government, which is now in a state of flux due to mounting public criticism of its economic policy under current President Alejandro Toledo."

Info World Gates and Perú president ink IT agreement: "Monday's agreement calls for Microsoft to donate resources, products, services and an undisclosed amount of cash to assist the Peruvian government with several IT initiatives, said Ricardo Adame, Microsoft's manager of international public relations, on Monday. The Peruvian government isn't expected to give anything in return, he added, since the spirit of the agreement is for Microsoft to support Perú's initiatives, he said."

BBC BBCPeru cold snap kills 59: "The authorities in Peru say severe cold weather has killed at least 59 people, most of them children, in the south-east of the country." It's a safe bet that more deaths have not been recorded because they occurred in really remote areas.

New Zealand News / Reuters Harsh cold kills off llamas, alpacas in Peru: "As much as 20 per cent of the alpacas and llamas could be wiped out by the coldest weather in a decade, said Enrique Moya, president of the National Council for South American Cameloids, or animals related to camels." Enrique is someone who carries deeply about cameloids as integral parts of the Andean ecology.

Forbes / Reuters ANALYSIS-Wall St eyes new Peru cabinet on financing gaps: "The new economy boss now faces the delicate balancing act of drumming up some $500 million to fill the gap left by privatizations and sliding tax revenues in 2002 and keep investors happy with austere finances -- all while avoiding more popular discontent, said analysts."

Forbes / Reuters ANALYSIS-Wall St eyes new Peru cabinet on financing gaps: "The new economy boss now faces the delicate balancing act of drumming up some $500 million to fill the gap left by privatizations and sliding tax revenues in 2002 and keep investors happy with austere finances -- all while avoiding more popular discontent, said analysts."

Monday, July 15

Reuters Lawyer: Latam Rights Court to Reopen Berenson Case: "Sandoval said there would be a full trial in San Jose, Costa Rica, with oral hearings and witnesses, culminating in a ruling either to uphold the sentence, order Berenson free or order a retrial. The court cannot reduce her sentence or acquit or convict her, he added."

Fujimori Silent

It looks as if former president-cum-strongman Alberto Fujimori has lost some of his enthusiasm for the Web. He has not written any new entries on his website since April 24. Before, he rarely let a week go by without posting something. You'd expect him to be on the offensive with all the troubles whirling around Alejandro Toledo and his government.

Sunday, July 14

New Peruvian poet added to my collection

I have added three of Julio Ortega's poems to my body of translations. I had been holding off on adding him because I had stored his manuscript separately from the others. Actually, Julio is closer to me than any other of my collaborators, at least physically. He teaches at Brown University, in Providence, Rhode Island. He's got a webpage.


I have completed a redesign of the site. Although it may not look much different from what it was, it actually took a lot of work. I have complete removed all tables as the layout support and substituted cascading style sheets. It now has a three-column format, with navigation on the left and a right column with highlights and special links. That leaves main content in the middle column. I am also switching over to XHMTL for the whole site. I still have to validate all the pages for compliance. The main idea is to become standards-compliant and improve the flexibility of the design. Eventually, I will create a new signature graphic for the site, but that's going to take more time.

I had been putting the remake off for nearly a year because I did not have time and because I said to myself that content was more important to put up than design, but there comes a time when design becomes an obstacle because the content has to be put in "containers" (design). I found myself saying to myself that I can add more material because I would have to redo it later on. Certainly, I now of a clearer idea of what kind of format I have to put photographs and other graphics because there are specific places where the illustrations can go, which determines their shape and dimensions.

Saturday, July 13

Washington Post Freezing Weather Kills 18 in Peru: "The cold spell dropped temperatures to below zero and dumped up to 3 feet of snow in some areas. It came in earlier this month and caught many off guard. About 1,700 llama, alpaca, sheep and cattle have been frozen by the cold, Vice President Raul Diez Canseco told reporters in Ayacucho."

Forbes / Reuters Ailing Peru gov't calls in doctor as prime minister: "Now Solari, a congressman who helped found Toledo's Peru Posible party, must prescribe the right medicine. The devout Roman Catholic, 54, with swept back gray hair and firm convictions, is seen as a politician who can stand up to the president. Untested in public office until last year, Toledo strikes Peruvians as directionless and impulsive, prone to off-the-cuff promises he cannot keep, polls show." A profile of Peru's new prime minister.

CNN / Reuters Peru's Toledo to meet with Microsoft's Gates: "Peru's President Alejandro Toledo will travel to Seattle this weekend for talks with Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates during which he will sign accords to support his Huascaran Internet-for-schools project, a government spokesman said. Peru's Plan Huascaran -- named for the Andean nation's highest peak -- was a key campaign plank for Toledo when he took office last July pledging to fight poverty." You should also know that the Peruvian congress has been entertaining the idea of mandating the use of open source software for government computing needs.

Friday, July 12

Yahoo / Reuters Peru to Swear in New Cabinet with Fresh Direction: "His Cabinet in tatters after the economy and prime ministers resigned, Peru's unpopular President Alejandro Toledo was set on Friday to announce a revamped team to revitalize his rocky government." Yet to see who will be joining the administration officially.

NY Times Top Peruvian Ministers Forced Out in Cabinet Shakeup: "Today, the minister of women and social promotion, Cecilia Blondet, said she, too, was leaving. Resignations were expected from Fernando Olivera, the justice minister; Nicolas Lynch, the education minister; and Luis Chang, the minister of transportation." Interesting -- the right right wing (PPK and Danino) and the left wing (former members of the radical left in the 1980s) also leave. Rospigliosi (Interior) and Garcia Sayan (Foreign Affairs) would also be in the later. PPK said in the article that Toledo was going to "cast his lot with APRA."

Thursday, July 11

Yahoo / Reuters Peru Cabinet Crumbles, Changes Seen on Friday: "The exit of Kuczynski, a relaxed, tennis- and flute-playing former fund manager, is expected to hand the herculean task of balancing Peru's budget back to his predecessor, Javier Silva Ruete, who had the job for eight months in 2000-2001." This is a political watershed for the Toledo government. PPK gave creditibility and clear policy direction to Toledo. Now that he has broken with PPK, the issue will be whether a competent technical team can be pulled together. If Silva Ruete is the leading candidate for finance minister, there might be a chance.

NY Times / AP Inca Mummies Near Lima: "Mr. Guerrero's team of 10 archaeologists has found the remains of four women, four children and four dogs sacrificed in the ancient city. 'We have discovered much information about the architecture and the function of the city itself,' he said." More insights into the pre-Columbian world.

Wednesday, July 10

Forbes / Reuters Peru cuts privatization goal to $500 mln-550 mln: "But with the privatizations plan -- a cornerstone of President Alejandro Toledo's economic program -- on the rocks, Economy Minister Pedro Pablo Kuczynski had already scaled back his hopes of raising $800 million to some $600 million." Without the political capital to prop up the Toledo administration, you can get financial capital from privatization, investments or foreign loans.

Financial Times Toledo poised to reshuffle Peru cabinet: "After anti-privatisation protests in Arequipa, Peru's second city, last month and in advance of a national strike planned this month, Mr Toledo is under growing pressure to tackle the "crisis of credibility" that threatens his government. He is expected to sack some key ministers, including, according to some reports, his market-friendly prime minister, Roberto Dañino, although other reports say Washington is backing Mr Dañino." The traditional July 28 reshuffle of the cabinet is coming early this year. Toledo has overheated the political engine of the country. I am sorry to see that the Financial Times is switching over to a subscription formula for its website. It has been getting excellent coverage of Peru from its correspondent Paul Kelly. $95 per year is just too much for me to cover at this time. I will try to keep pointing to the stories when they appear in FT.

Tuesday, July 9

CNN / AP Peruvians march in first gay pride parade: "But not everyone marching on Saturday was comfortable with coming too far out in the open in one of Latin America's more conservative, predominantly Roman Catholic capitals. Unlike in Paris, where the mayor led an estimated 500,000 marchers on the same day, just a few hundred showed up for Lima's parade."

Saturday, July 6

NY Times In a World That Sings Together, Music is Bridging Cultural Chasms: "Susana Baca devoted much of her early career to preserving and reviving Afro-Peruvian songs that are the heritage of slavery in Peru, which lasted until 1845. Forbidden to use drums with skins, slaves resourcefully played wooden boxes, chairs and donkey jawbones, and Ms. Baca holds on to the handmade sound of the music. Lately, she has expanded her repertory and modernized her backup to sound ever more intimate, gently singing about lost love, the sea and the lessons of history over sparsely syncopated guitars, hand drums and a hint of jazz bass. 'Espíritu Vivo' (Luaka Bop) often has a haunted tone that comes from both the songs and from events; it was recorded live in a downtown New York City studio very soon after Sept. 11, with Ms. Baca's Peruvian band joined by Marc Ribot, who adds eerie electric-guitar penumbras, and by the keyboardist John Medeski. Ms. Baca also takes up songs by Mongo Santamaria ('Afro Blue'), Caetano Veloso ('13 de Mayo,' which celebrates the end of slavery) and, of all people, Bjork ('Anchor Song'). Ms. Baca was not alone in the Afro-Peruvian revival she spearheaded. 'The Rough Guide to Afro-Peru' (World Music Network) is a well-chosen survey album that includes Ms. Baca and 11 other revivalists: some folky, some elaborately produced, all clearly devoted to the songs as both music and heritage." A survey of trans-world music includes to mentions of Peruvian albums.

Thursday, July 4

Amnesty International Torture Remains Widespread In Peru's Prisons, Police Stations And Military Bases: "President Toledo's government has taken important steps to protect human rights and put an end to torture, Amnesty International acknowledged. Such steps include: the establishment of a Special Commission for the Restructuring of the National Police of Peru to evaluate the main strengths and weaknesses within the police; the creation of an ombudsperson for the police; and the strengthening of the human rights division within the Ministry of the Interior to deal with human rights complaints." The full report is available online. It came out on June 26.

Guardian The online Oscars party: "The Committee to Free Lori Berenson, the American woman jailed in Peru for alleged terrorist offences which she denies, won the Personal Web Site award for" The results of the 2002 winners of the Webby awards is at the site.

Washington Post / AP Judge: Toledo Must Take DNA Test: "The case had been decided in Peru's courts several years ago, when it was ruled Toledo was not the father even though a blood test showed a 97 percent probability he was.Orozco refiled the suit while Toledo was a presidential candidate. His campaign withstood Orozco's allegations, with Toledo winning a run-off vote last June.Arguing that the renewed court action was politically motivated, Toledo refused to take a DNA test during the campaign but said he would after the election if a judge ruled he should." Missed this story last week. More trouble for Toledo.

Washington Post / AP Peru Stops Coca Eradication: "Shelving the alternative development and coca eradication programs there could deal a harsh blow to the much-lauded crackdown on coca in Peru, which once led the world in coca cultivation. A U.S. embassy official, speaking on condition of anonymity, expressed concern about the suspensions. In February, U.S. Ambassador John Hamilton announced the United States would triple its anti-drug funding to President Alejandro Toledo's government to $150 million in 2002. Toledo's government has set a goal of eliminating at least 54,000 acres of coca."

Forbes / Reuters Peru's farming output up 8.2 pct Jan-May: "Farming represents about 8 percent of gross domestic product for Peru, Latin America's seventh largest economy, but the sector is not a traditional bread-winner like the key mining and fishing sectors.Farming shrank 0.6 percent last year, but production leaped 8.1 percent year-on-year in May." Growth in farm production is real good news for the Toledo government because it's labor intensive and includes the whole country, as opposed to mining, which is concentrated in pockets and exports much of its profits.

Guardian / Reuters Peru Women Cops Face Macho Backlash: "Women were put in charge after a study determined they would be incorruptible when dealing with lawbreakers, whereas the first thing most male traffic officers do is stick out a hand for a bribe. But in the last 18 months, women cops have been punched, run over and dragged by angry male drivers who don't like taking lip from women. The 1,450 female police assigned to street duty make up 73 percent of the transit police force, but they account for 90 percent of 137 abuse cases reported in the first half of this year alone, according to the police." Peruvina men have also started rumors that women cops are just as corruptible as male cops.

Reuters Peru Pauses Drug Eradication in Key Coca Valley: "Local coca producers are also angry with U.S. charity CARE, which is not involved in eradication but which is spending $20 million on a three-year program to promote the development of alternative crops in four valleys including the Alto Huallaga. 'They are accusing us of keeping the cash," CARE Peru director Carlos Cardenas told Reuters. He said that until the dispute was resolved, the charity had suspended its programs in the Alto Huallaga and Apurimac valleys, both big coca zones."

Tuesday, July 2

Bostong Globe / AP Peruvian spy chief is given 9 years: "Judge Saul Pena fined Montesinos, 57, the equivalent of $2.8 million and sentenced him to a prison term of nine years and four months, a stiff sentence for a relatively minor charge. Prosecutors had requested only a seven-year sentence." A first conviction of many to come.

Environment News Network / Reuters Mine's mercury spill leaves dim legacy in Peruvian town: "In June 2000, a truck contracted by Yanacocha leaked 334 pounds of toxic mercury over a 27-mile stretch of highway from the mine to the Pacific coast. Much of that seeped into Choropampa, a poor village only a few blocks long where farmers bring their wares to market twice a week." This incident explains some of the animosity against Yanacocha.

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