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Wednesday, May 28

Reuters Peru Troops, Strikers Clash in State of Emergency: "In the northern city of Chiclayo, security forces fired tear gas and arrested teachers. In Pativilva, north of Lima, protesters pelted cars with rocks and ransacked buses, while in other parts of Peru shops were shuttered to avoid looting."

Reuters Peru in State of Siege, Military Sweeps, Protests: "Late on Tuesday, Toledo -- whose two years in office have been marked by protests and a declining approval rating that now stands at 14 percent -- declared a 30-day state of emergency from the northern jungle to southern Andean plains." Too many strikes, too many protests, too many unfulfilled promises.

Monday, May 26

Fujimori visits the Patriach

Washington Post When a Great Novelist Turned His Pen on Tyranny : "As is also true of Garcia Marquez's other masterpieces, the novel weaves back and forth in time. 'The past is not dead, it's not even past,' is how Faulkner put it, a notion as essential to Garcia Marquez's work as to his own. The individual memory of the dictator and the collective memory of the nation are pinned down to no specific moment but exist in eternity. Indeed it can be argued that the dictator is the embodiment of time and timelessness: 'the only thing that gave us security on earth was the certainty that he was there, invulnerable to plague and hurricane . . . invulnerable to time, dedicated to the messianic happiness of thinking for us, knowing that we knew that he would not take any decision for us that did not have our measure, for he had not survived everything because of his inconceivable courage or his infinite prudence but because he was the only one among us who knew the real size of our destiny.'"

Jonathan Yardley wrote an interesting appreication of Gabriel Garcia Marquez's novel, The Autumn of the Patriach. I couldn't help but think of Alberto Fujimori's 10 years in power. Although he gained power through legal means, he quickly learned how to take liberties. Until the end of his regime, most Peruvians were willing to accept his strong-arm methods -- even when they became more repugnant. After Garcia's economic debacle and Sendero's lunge for power, most Peruvians want to regain some semblance of stability. Fujimori and Montesinos had very clear ground rules. When you accept the rules, you were able to concentrate on other factors in the complex formula of survival, whether you were a businessman or a shantytown resident.

Fujimori never displayed the venal vices of Garcia Marquez's tyrant, but he had his alter ego in Montesinos. Peruvian society is "softer" than Colombia so its dark side did not have to corrupt it as violently -- some would say that it was always corrupt.

The most telling remark above is Faulkner's -- the past lives on, taking on new forms. That's why it's so important to answer the question of another novelist, Mario Vargas Llosa in Conversation in the Cathedral: Cuando se jodiķ el Peru?.

Thursday, May 22

Reuters AlertNet Peru bus crash kills at least 14 people: "The police official said the death toll could increase because many passengers had suffered serious injuries. They were being treated in the Jauja hospital." This is the modern day equivalent of The Bridge of San Luis Rey (Thorton Wilder's novel).

MSNBC / AP Protests grow in Peru ahead of Latin American leaders' summit: "Gen. Eduardo Perez, the director of Peru's national police, said 2,300 extra police have been sent to Cuzco, while army troops had been deployed to secure and control access to the Andean city's airport." Nothing like an international event to attract protestors and marches. It's when interest groups have the best leverage to get to the President.

Forbes / Reuters Peru lawmakers seek to annul telecom contract: "More than half of Peru's Congress is backing a lawsuit urging a top court to declare Telefonica del Peru's contract with the government unconstitutional, a legislator said on Wednesday." Renigging on contracts is not smiled upon by foreign investors.

Wednesday, May 21

Graduation Day

Michael Smith gets his diploma I forgot to mention here that I graduated over the weekend from the University of Maryland University College. You can get all the gory details over in my other weblog. I'm also reworking the whole UMUC section in my website because I want it to reflect my newly acquired status as an accredited professional. I even joined the IEEE's Computer Society last night.

Tuesday, May 20

Nasdaq / Dow Jones
Peru Government Suspends Talks With Striking Teachers
: "There are about 280,000 public sector teachers on strike, many of whom receive about PEN700 to PEN800 a month. They are demanding an increase of PEN210 a month." SUTEP has a long history of being a headache for the government.

Reuters Approval of Peru's Toledo hits 14 percent -poll: "Toledo's popularity in the latest poll is the same as his lowest approval rating in the 22-month-old-government. Last October, just prior to recognizing a daughter from an extramarital affair, his popularity stood at 14 percent. His rating went up six percentage points immediately afterwards." The article points out that even Peru's good economic performance recently can hurt Toledo's popularity because most people have not felt any improvement in their own prospects.

Saturday, May 17

UN News Center UN survey shows stable coca production in Peru, no major shift from Colombia: "The increase was mainly due to the rehabilitation of abandoned fields in important coca growing regions like Apurimac, which produces some 30 per cent of Peru's coca. The survey notes that the increase in Apurimac was also aided by the continuing worldwide depression in the price of coffee - the region's main alternative crop. These statistics follow UNODC's recent report on Colombia, which showed a 30 per cent reduction in coca cultivation from 2001 to 2002." This info seems to bely the Sanchez article below.

Bloomberg Peru Economy Expands 5% in 1st Qtr on Textile Exports: "Higher manufacturing and retailing output may signal that Peru's economy, which has generally been driven by mining, particularly gold, copper, silver and zinc, may be broadening. The country led the region with 5.2 percent growth last year that was dependent on highly mechanized mining of metals, which employs fewer than 200,000 people." The economy starts building up steam. Too bad it's in such a deep hole.

Reuters AlertNet Peru may go to Int'l Court on Fujimori extradition: "If Japan decides not to extradite Fujimori on grounds he is Japanese 'then the debate will begin on his predominant nationality and we will carry this out in the International Court in The Hague,' Alvarado told Reuters in an interview late Wednesday." A new legal angle to get Fujimori into court.

Washington Post When the War on Drugs Is Too Narrow: "They [Peruvian and Bolivian officials] say too that the drug war creates a so-called "balloon effect" in which squeezing the drug trade in one area causes it to expand it another. Coca fields eradicated in a region are quickly replaced with new growth elsewhere. Interdiction successes in the air lead to the opening of new routes over land or waterways, and so on." Marcela Sanchez takes a broader look at the fight against cocaine trafficking.

MSNBC / Reuters Data said missing from Fujimori extradition bid: "[Supreme Court judge Jose] Lecaros said that [former intelligence agent Leonor] La Rosa, who was allegedly tortured by military officers in the 1990s after she leaked information about secret operations, testified that she heard Fujimori and Montesinos discussing the death squad's operations. The judge acknowledged that there could be doubts about the testimony of La Rosa, who says she was handicapped by the torture. But he said other witnesses backed up her testimony." The saga continues.

Reuters Peru agency objects on gold mine project: "He said Inrena was worried, among other things, about the impermeability of a tailings area, as well as the overall environmental impact of an open-cast mine in an area that produces 40 percent of Peru's mangoes and limes, which are consumed locally and exported to the United States." You also might want to check out a report by a Canadian human rights group, Gold and Land: Democratic Development at Stake.

Wednesday, May 14

The Mercury (Australia) Murder trial urged for ex-leader: "Lecaros said he found evidence supporting allegations that Fujimori gave the leader of the so-called Colina Group hit squad the go-ahead to murder suspected sympathisers of the now nearly defunct Maoist Shining Path guerrilla movement." Six trials are now being readied for Fujimori.

I'm a grinder

"Writers, like teeth, are divided into incisors and grinders." - Walter Bagehot, economist and journalist (1826-1877). The quote came in my e-mail today from A.Word.A.Day. I've subscribed to the service for seven years, and still read each day's contribution.

Tuesday, May 13

Fairy Tale

Monica and Mike GrbicWith my wife and kids, I spent the weekend in New York, actually Westchester County, at the wedding of my niece, Monica Murguia. She's the first of her generation to get married so it was a big event for the Chavez-Delgado clan. All four sisters joined their mother, who flew up from Peru. My daughter, Stephanie, was a bridesmaid, along with two other cousins. Her father, Reynaldo, flew in from Geneva where he works in UNICEF to give away the bride. Monica married a great guy, Mike Grbic. His parents, Mile and Zorka, are Croat, and it seemed that the whole Croatian colony in NY showed up to celebrate. We even had a Croatian band and we danced to it , as well as salsa and rock.

A Westchester Co. wedding is a sight to behold. The reception was at a country club; food and booze flowed freely. For anyone else, this might have been over the top, but Mike and his family carried it off with such joy and generosity that it was clear that they just wanted their friends and family to share in their happiness. Of course, why not be happy when Mike married such a beautiful bride -- who, by the way, graduates next week with a Master of Computer Science from Pace University.

The day after the wedding was Mother's Day so there was another big family gathering for a brunch that stretched well into the afternoon. Luisa (Tere's mother) said something about Saint Martin of Porras's little miracle because her daughters and grandchildren were not squabbling (just normal friction from a family being so close). Monica and Mike flew off to Mexico for their honeymoon and we limped back to Washington, DC.


Friday, May 9

BBC Peru's 'Jerry Springer' battles scandal: "She [Laura Bozzo] stands accused of accepting more than $3m of state funds - not to mention expensive jewellery - from Vladimiro Montesinos. In exchange, Ms Bozzo is alleged to have put her show at the service of Mr Montesinos's boss, then President Alberto Fujimori." My wife follows this show every night on Hispanic TV. She thinks that Bozzo is being framed.

Forbes / AP Peru sells off last state mine for $1 mln: "Morococha, located high in Peru's central Andes, has proven and probable mineral reserves of 400,000 tonnes, with 0.5 percent copper, 2.1 percent lead, 6.7 percent zinc and 182 grams per tonne of silver. The mine's concentrator has a capacity to treat 1,400 tonnes of ore a day." From the 1970s until recently, the state had been the main mineral producer in the country. Morococha is a legendary name in Peruvian mining, part of the old Cerro Corporation that was expropriated by the Velasco military government.

PlanetFootball Solano in new Peru rumpus: "Solano insists he is happy to represent his country but will always prioritise the fixture before deciding whether to play for Peru or The Magpies." Norberto Solano plays for Newcastle United and has been ruffling feathers on his pro team and the Peruvian national team with regard to his availability.

Tuesday, May 6

Reuters Peru court says Yanacocha can explore Quilish zone: "Peru's top court on consitutional issues ruled that, prior to mining the deposit, Yanacocha must conduct a "complete environmental impact study carried out by duly certified companies or institutions," a court statement Thursday, summarizing the ruling issued a day earlier, said." Another battle over the exploitation of natural resources. Yanacocha is a big money maker and would like to expand its mining area.

Forbes / Reuters Peru sees Camisea deal by early June: "[Finance Minister Jaime] Quijandria said work on the project was on schedule and would be finished even if the entire financing is not settled. The overall project is valued at $1.8 billion, he said." We've heard that story before.

Monday, May 5


I spent the afternoon checking links on my main pages. It's amazing how many have gone dead since the last time I checked, around Christmas time. I also was validating the markup for compliance with W3 standards. The Lista is the biggest issue because it must have more than one-hundred links. Sometimes, it just an issue of a router or hosting company being down temporarily so I will have to check back again.

I did add a new page, a few additional Haiku poems. Because the original Haiku page is the second most popular page on this site, I thought I might as well try to build on success.

Saturday, May 3

Nasdaq / Dow Jones Peru Opens Coup Case Against Ex-Finance Minister: "(Carlos) Boloņa, a high-profile economist who was twice a finance minister in Fujimori cabinets, was allegedly captured on a recording talking about how to replace Fujimori." Boloņa was instrumental in bringing Peru back from the status of financial pariah after Alan Garcia's disastrous presidency.

Miami Herald Peru agrees to target only new coca crops for eradication: "President Alejandro Toledo bowed to the demands after groups of Peruvian peasants with coca leaves stuffed in their pockets came on foot from hundreds of miles away to confront the president in the capital. But the government says it can meet the protesters' demands -- and still eradicate at least 21,000 acres this year." Toledo gets by this crisis, but more trouble is ahead on the cocaine trafficking issue. Growers complain that offers of alternative development have been empty.

CNN / AP U.S. warns Americans in Peru - May. 2, 2003: "The group launched its insurgency on May 17, 1980, after a decade of organizing. For years until the mid-1990s, the rebels timed some of their most violent attacks to commemorate the founding date." Staging attacks around specific dates made it easier for Sendero's cells to stage them independently of central command. Now it just means that the security forces know that it's coming.

Going After Fujimori

Amnesty International's Peru chapter has started an online campaign to Expedite Fujimori. This is a companion site to another one that I referred to before in this weblog. Also check out the Washington Office on Latin America and its more detailed explanation.

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