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Sunday, June 29

Ground swell of unrest pressure the government

Fumble after government fumble
: "Toledo has hardly had a moment of peace and quiet during his nearly two years in office, a situation that became intolerable when highways were blocked at the beginning of May, first by transportation workers and then by farmers who added their weight to the national teachers? strike" Latinamerica Press This article gives an overview of the politcal events that led up to the cabinet's resignation.

Saturday, June 28

Toledo tries a bold gesture

First woman named Peru prime minister: "Beatriz Merino, the 54-year-old head of the tax agency, was sworn in as prime minister, six days after Premier Luis Solari and the cabinet resigned to allow Toledo to refresh his government's image." CNN / Reuters President Alejandro Toledo's political position in unenviable. Lima rumor mills are now opening circulating conjecture about how he might leave office ahead of time, call emergency elections, convoke a high-profile figure (Mario Vargas Llosa, heaven forbid!) for a care-taker government, and you can imagine what else. So Toledo digs into the hat for a political first, a woman as prime minister. Merino came to public attention in the 1990 campaign when she was a legislative candidate on Vargas Llosa's ticket. I think she got elected.

On the other hand, Toledo retained Javier Silva Ruete as the finance minister. He bumped out five minister, plus Solari the Prime Minister. Keeping Silva Ruete was to reassure the outside world that economic policy would not undergo a major overhaul. Also see the BBC Peru's first woman PM sworn in.

But in his speech, Toledo blamed the Fujimori government for having left the country in rubble. You can't do that two years into your term. It's all right in your inauguration -- every president has done it since 1980.

Thursday, June 26

Ilo refinery has been an environmental liability for southern Peru

Southern Peru faces fine on Ilo smelter: "Southern in 1997 signed the PAMA, an agreement with the government under which it pledged to carry out a two-stage program to improve air quality by 2006. However, it revised that program in 2001, proposing to the ministry that it be completed by 2004 in a single stage. The ministry accepted that proposal but Southern in 2002 asked to return to the original plan. That request was turned down by the ministry, saying there were no guarantees that the environmental program would be fulfilled completely." / Reuters For decades, regional forces have been pressuring the Southern Peru Copper Corporation to clean up its act. Now the government is getting into the game.

Where's the teacher pay money coming from?

Peru's Silva Says Govt Must Fill $54.8 Mln Hole in 2003 Budget: "Silva said in a speech televised tonight in Lima that the financing would have been accounted for if Congress hadn't voted against taxing cellular phone and cable television use as well as additional taxes on fixed-line monthly telephone bills in excess of 100 soles ($29)." It's pocket change, but it all adds up. Also see this Nasdaq / Dow Jones Peru's Fin Min Warns Of Possible Fiscal Shortfall.

Tuesday, June 24

Lawyer-client privilege may take on new meaning with spymaster Montesinos

'Lewd lawyer' upsets Miss Montesinos: "According to reports, Miss Valdivia said she had every right to enter the cell with Montesinos' daughter as she was 'going to be her next mother'. " BBC Champagne, mini-skirted dances and other distractions are upsetting Montesinos's daughter during prison visits. His lawyer, Estela Valdivia, seems to be getting possessive.

Local government gets in on power project

Peru region, govt agree on Yuncan power: "Luis Guiulfo, president of state investment agency ProInversion, said the winner of the 30-year concession will be required to put the 130-megawatt plant in operation by 2005. ProInversion has set a base price of $62 million for the plant, which is still under construction. The winner of the concession will be the bidder who offer the highest price for the plant." A key issue over the next couple of years is how local governments are incorporated into investment projects so that they feel ownership and give outside investment as necessary and fair.

Peru needs to be rewarded for its economic policy

Peru proposes prepaying Paris Club with 30-yr debt: "Peru faces high debt payments and fiscal deficits in the next few years but since it depends on markets for two-thirds of its financing, it can't afford to get into a debate on whether to pay the debt. 'Given that there is a bigger increase in amortization payments with the Paris Club in the coming years, the most sensible thing would be to obtain financing from somewhere else, for example the market,' Cuba told CPN Radio." Reuters After years of toeing the line with the IMF and the international banks, the Peruvian government wants to get cut some slack.

Cross-border tensions between Peru and Ecuador turn more positive

Peace border between Peru and Ecuador reflects change across a continent: "Eight years later, peace has taken hold and the bridge is open. Globalization has reached the ramshackle towns of Aguas Verdes in Peru and Huaquillas in Ecuador. And across the continent, the rise of democracy and increased trade have made border disputes less likely to end up in armed conflict. " MSNBC / AP I was in Ecuador in 1995 and was really struck by the animosity against Peru and Peruvians following the border conflict. It was so counterproductive given the potential for both country collaborating across their frontier. With all the negative vibes shaking confidence, this kind of cross-border trend is definitely upbeat.

In Search of a New Political Agenda for the Government

Peruvian Cabinet to Resign in Move to Bolster Government: "The changes, though, are not likely to placate some of the president's most ferocious critics, who accuse him of losing his credibility through a series of personal gaffes. "Peru's problem has a name and last name, and the No. 1 problem is Alejandro Toledo," Rafael Rey, a congressman with the conservative National Unity Party, said in a telephone interview. ' The resignation of the cabinet is not going to resolve the problem.'" NY Times (registration required) Rey must be reading my weblog because I said that yesterday. Also see Washington Post / AP Peruvian Leader Pledges Cabinet Shuffle ::: Terranet / AFP Peru -- and perhaps Toledo -- at a breaking point

Monday, June 23

Peru can't wait 45 days for cabinet shuffle

Peru Premier to Present Ministers' Resignations: "[Luis] Solari, who has headed the Cabinet since last July, said that Toledo was due to travel to a presidential summit of the Andean Community, adding the appointments of the new ministers could occur by 'Tuesday or Wednesday,' or 'next week.' In Peru, ministers normally present their resignations to the president at year-end and in July, in the run-up to the president's annual July 28 address marking Independence Day." Reuters We could see this coming since the teacher strike built up momentum. The problem is that as long as you can't swap out presidents as you can ministers, you're not going to make a more viable government with the cabinet shuffle.

Sunday, June 22

Truth Commission

In Lima, El Comercio cast the Commission's visit as an effort to get its hands on classified information in the hands of the U.S. government, but the Washington Office on Latin America's Coletta Youngers, an organizer of the Washington forum, "Illuminating the Past, Transforming the Future: A Report from Peru's Truth and Reconciliation Commission," said in an e-mail to the LASA Peru section, which I repeat here with her permission:

"Salomon Lerner [Commission Chairman] responded to a question in the press conference about their views on the declassified documents and he said what the commission has said in the past -- that they are disappointed that more information has not been provided by the U.S. government. The visit to DC, however, was not focused on seeking further information from the U.S. government. On the contrary, the primary purpose of the visit was to participate in a major forum organized by WOLA and other organizations (including the Truth Commission) to present the work of the commission to date. (The presentations were terrific and I'm hoping we can get them on to our web site -- I'll let you know if that happens.) High-level meetings were held, but the focus was to gain support for the implementation of the commission's recommendations and financial support for the reparations plan that the commission will be putting forward.

"We, however, are continuing to push for further declassification with the hope that someday we'll be able to tell the whole story!"

I will point to the WOLA's material when it becomes available. From Coletta's description, I am sorry that I could not take off a full-morning from my work at the OAS to attend the forum. I'm sure that an interesting crowd showed up to hear the Commission and the panel. By the way, Coletta will be leaving WOLA soon for an extended stay in Europe. She's been a big friend of Peru in Washington for as long as I can remember.

Andean Leaders Under Siege

Popular Discontent Threatens Fragile Democracies: "Although Toledo blames his poor image on an overly critical press, he continues to confound even his supporters by his choices, including his decision to deliver the commencement address this week at Stanford University, where the former shoeshine boy earned a PhD in education. He traveled to California by presidential plane over fierce objections from Congress that the trip was frivolous at a time when the country is still under a declared state of emergency. The 30-day decree expires June 27." Washington Post The point of the story is that President Alejandro Toledo has only himself to blame for the plight of his government. It's simply a question of managment (or lack of it). And Peruvians have to accept three more years of it.

A Capture in Triest

Shining Path Suspect Detained in Italy: "Italian authorities in Trieste said Saturday that Pablo Francisco La Torre Carrasco was arrested under an international arrest warrant issued by Peru. Peruvian authorities have implicated Mr. Carrasco and other Shining Path rebels in the attacks and murders of police and civilians in Peru. " VOA News I have never heard of this SL operative, but Europe has proven to be a good place to Sendero activists to seek shelter. Aslo see this Reuters item Italy police arrest suspected Shining Path member

Inca codebreakers missing thier khipu rosetta stone

Inca may have used knot computer code to bind empire: "Professor [Gary] Urton's study found there are, theoretically, seven points in the making of a khipu where the maker could make a simple choice between two possibilities, a seven-bit binary code. For instance, he or she could choose between weaving a string made of cotton or of wool, or they could weave in a 'spin' or 'ply' direction, or hang the pendant from the front of the primary string or from the back. In a strict seven-bit code this would give 128 permutations (two to the power of seven) but Professor Urton said because there were 24 possible colours that could be used in khipu construction, the actual permutations are 1,536 (or two to the power of six, multiplied by 24)." Independent (UK) These knotted strings are also called quipus. The Harvard professor found that the system used a seven-bit binary code. The Inca may have been ahead of their times.

Friday, June 20

Truth Commission in Washington to underscore report

Washington Post 60,000 May Have Died in Peru Violence, Panel Says: "The truth and reconciliation commission was created in 2001 to investigate abuses committed largely by Peru's security forces and the Shining Path rebel movement. Shining Path and another rebel group were crushed by an anti-insurgency campaign under then-President Alberto Fujimori in the 1990s. Commission members interviewed about 1,000 imprisoned Shining Path members, including their leader, Abimael Guzman, as well as military officers, some of whom acknowledged human rights abuses. The commission also conducted televised hearings in which some of the thousands of victims described atrocities and torture, both by Shining Path and by members of the Peruvian armed forces." I'm struck by how shallow the Post's article is. I don't know whether it's because the reporter didn't have enough context to understand the issues or whether the Truth Commission didn't have anything signficant to say from its 18,000 witnesses. Maybe it was a combination of both. See this more complete verison of the AP story via IndieMedia.

Congress shoves back the government's tax increase package

iWon / Reuters Peru Congress panel rejects tax proposals: "The panel late Thursday rejected the proposals after Finance Minister Silva Ruete defended the tax measures that along with spending cuts were aimed at raising 752 million soles ($216 million) for pressing social demands. Silva Ruete said the revenues were necessary to help Peru meet its 2003 fiscal deficit goal of 1.9 percent of gross domestic product." It's going to take some imagination to convince Congress that it needs to increase taxes. The taxes base is so small and the tax collection system so rudimentary that the government does not have any leeway for shifting the tax burden.

Thursday, June 19

Your yogurt may be tinted with bug juice -- if it's pink.

NPR : A Big Market for Bug Dye: "The cochineals are about the size of peppercorns, or ticks, and they live on the surface of prickly pear cactus pads. They're a dusty grey color, until they're squashed -- and then their plump abdomens burst with rich, red liquid." The cochineal are used to make carmine, a natural dye, frequently used to make the bright red colors favored in Andean blankets and panchos. There is also an audio version of this story. One prominent producing area is Ayacucho. Also check out NPR's archive of Peru stories.

No firesale for Petroperu

Forbes / Reuters Peru Congress bars sale of state oil firm: "Jose Carrasco Tavara, a legislator of the center-left Aprista party who sponsored the measure, said the bill excludes Petroperu from two of four privatization models foreseen in the law used in the 1990s to sell off state companies." Selling off Petroperu would revive a lot of political heat because it was created by the expropriation of a foreign oil company and became a banner for the nationalist regime of General Juan Velasco Alvardo in 1968. These old fires never die out.

Adolf drowns -- again

Independent On Line (South Africa) / AFP Another Adolfo Hitler drowns in the Amazon : "Their shock bordered on disbelief when the child's father, Manuel Garcia, revealed that the four-year-old victim was named after his older brother who drowned in the same river 11 years ago." I've heard of Peruvians giving their kids the names of many historical people -- Lenin, Stalin, Lincoln, for a start. A more common habit is to give kids the name of characters in soap operas and other TV shows.

Eliana Karp is pure 'retro'

Reuters First lady rails at 'pillage' of Peru's resources: "She was apparently referring to the fact that some foreign mining and power companies took advantage of a law in former President Alberto Fujimori's government that allowed double depreciation for companies involved in mergers." Just as Toledo harks back to the "Love and Peace" era of Berkley when he addressed Stanford graduates, his wife applies the old "You're exploiting our natural resources" complaint. This kind of logic led to the nationalistic expropriations of the 1970s.

New Starbucks store to brew environmentally grown coffee

iWon / Reuters Starbucks to set shop in Peru: "The company said the coffee will be sourced from environmental protection group Conservation International's coffee project site in Peru's Upper Tambopata Valley." Starbucks will work in tandem with Conservation International to use coffee from the Upper Tambopata valley, near Cusco. The new competition will probably shake up my old haunts, all the cafés in Miraflores.

Wednesday, June 18

Toledo addresses Stanford graduates

Stanford Reporter 'I am free because of education,' Toledo tells graduates: "In his remarks, the 57-year-old Toledo chronicled his journey from the Andean highlands, where he was the eighth of 16 children, to the president's office. Seven of his siblings died before they reached their first birthday, which is typical of the extreme poverty of Latin America, Toledo said. By age 6, the future president was shining shoes and selling newspapers and lottery tickets to help support his family. Toledo, the first in his family to attend high school, came to the United States to study with the help of two American Peace Corps volunteers he met in Peru." Toledo got his biggest applause when he said that he had been in Berkley when "free love was the order of the day." Cheap trick.

If you lived in the "mancha india," you were more likely to die

The Miami Herald / AP Peru says 60,000 may have died in Maoist revolt: "The commission also found that 75 percent of the victims spoke Quechua, the language of Peru's highland Indians, as their mother tongue. Peru's indigenous people represent less than 20 percent of the population and are concentrated in the poorest, most isolated part of the country -- but they suffered most, said Sofia Macher, another commission member." Also see VOANews Peru Commission Says Up to 60,000 Died or Disappeared During Conflict. I'd like to see the methodology used to calculate the number of deaths. Even during the worst years of violence, the figures were flaky. Also see CNN / AP Peru commission: Violence toll far higher than previously thought

Tuesday, June 17

Changes Made and on the Way

I am in the process of revamping this weblog. I want to be able to use RSS so that I can let the world know when these pages are updated. As a first step, I am adding titles to the news items, which is needed for the RSS feed. The feature is not so important for the news items here, but it does have more bearing for other work that I want to be doing for clients. After two and a half years of doing this blog, it's time to shake things up a little bit. I have removed the news feed from Moreover. There were just too many false hits -- stories about all the towns and countries in the States named Peru. I also started see stories that seemed to have no relation at all to Peru -- lots of Pakistan Tribune stories. If there was a news agency story that got posted in multiple papers, it ended up being repeated many times in the news feed. A human editor is still needed.

Oh, by the way, I reorganized the Peruvian poetry section, giving each of my poets his/her own page. I also did a rough chronology of 20th century Peruvian poets that fits my translation into the broad current of Peruvian literature. It's still rough and broad brush strokes, but gives me something to play with.

Nasdaq / Dow Jones Peru's Austerity Plan Blasted By Businesses, Consumers: "The executive branch also outlined measures to restrict public sector hiring and cut current spending on things like gasoline. Economists say, however, that about 80% of public spending is destined for difficult-to-cut areas such as payrolls, pensions, servicing the public debt and public investments."

MSNBC / Reuters Peru's Toledo hits low point in approval rating: "The Apoyo poll of 538 residents of the capital over the weekend showed Toledo's popularity had declined 4 percentage points since May, reaching the lowest point in his two-year rule. His disapproval rating reached 85 percent." Toledo must have a crew of penguins as political advisors. His salary was an issue after he swore in and it has dogged him since. When you start out at $18,000 a month, you are setting yourself up for attacks - even if you cut it in half. Now he's down to $8,400 a month.

MercoPress Fujimori promises he will return to Peru: "'When the political persecution is over, my destination will be Peru. I will return to confirm that all those accusations are baseless, and that it’s all a big set up to prevent me from retaking political activity in Peru', said Mr. Fujimori interviewed by a Colombian station." Fujimori threatens again to make a political comeback.

Monday, June 16

Forbes / Reuters Peru cuts spending and proposes new taxes: "He [Finance Minister Javier Silva Ruete] added that the measures included 350 million soles of savings in public spending in 2003 and 402 million soles in new tax revenues that could be generated by year's end."

Reuters Toledo Can Take Peru's Plane to Stanford Univ.: "Lawmakers who voted for the resolution said Toledo needed to send a message of austerity after the government argued that budget constraints would allow for no more than a $30 monthly wage increase for striking teachers. The teachers ended their month-long strike on Thursday." Toledo has peeked the interest of lots of Stanford graduating seniors so they picked him as their commencement speaker.

Yahoo / Reuters Peruvian President to Get a Pay Cut: "[Finance Minister Javier ] Silva Ruete, speaking on local radio, did not mention the amount of the pay cut but he said late on Friday in the northern city of Trujillo that Toledo's monthly pay would be slashed by 30 percent to $8,400 and that of most ministers by 20 percent to $8,000." Belated reaction to public pressure about salaries being earned by high-ranking government officials. Toledo's salary was one of the highest paid to a head of state in Latin America.

Forbes / Reuters Peru GDP grew 2.5 pct vs 9.2 pct in April 2002: "The National Statistics Institute (INEI) also said that the economy grew 4.4 percent in first four months of the year compared with 4.3 percent in the January-April 2002 period." Growth was led by fishing (highly seasonal depending on oceans stocks) and mining. Agriculture was also strong. The first quarter of 2002 was especially strong so the current situation does not compare well.

CNN Tokyo back as most expensive city: "Lima in Peru has replaced Caracas as the most expensive city in South America, at 108th position on 63.4. South America's currency devaluations have helped make its cities among the cheapest of those surveyed, with Montevideo, Buenos Aires, Bogota and Asuncion scoring between 46.5 and 36.5." It's all relative. When I lived in Lima 8 years ago, it felt like the most expensive city in the world. Someone trying to maintain a U.S. middle class life style might be hard pressed. However, rent and real estate is cheap with many houses on the market.

CNN / AP Impoverished Peru moves away from birth control - Jun. 15, 2003: "Women's advocates say Health Minister Fernando Carbone and Prime Minister Luis Solari are pushing their conservative Roman Catholic philosophy by promoting motherhood and cutting off free contraceptives and birth-control information to the poor. The government denies the accusations -- and points to its efforts to make pregnancy safer -- but the critics are not convinced. 'The minister can profess whatever faith he wishes, but he does not have the right to impose his beliefs on everyone,' said Rocio Villanueva, a government ombudsman for women's rights, referring to Carbone."

Sunday, June 15

Counterpunch Noah Leavitt: Peru as Our Crystal Ball?: "Not only did the prior rulings do terrible harms to civil liberties, but the need to now retry numerous persons will impose large costs on the Peruvian government. The Peruvian Court acknowledged that its ruling could pave the way for civil trials for more than 800 alleged terrorists who had earlier been tried by the now-illegal military tribunals. Less then a week after the decision, more than 100 cases already were transferred to the country's civilian court." An article by Noah Leavitt that draws lessons from the Peruvian confrontation with Sendero Luminoso to forewarn the US government and citizens about the dangers of expedited justice (and strong-arm tactics) against terrorists. The article originally appeared in FindLaw.

Friday, June 13

Hoosier Times Cole Porter Festival showcases Peru native: "[Songwriter Cole] Porter was born in Peru June 9, 1891." This is one of the false hits that comes out of the search queries that I use to locate news items on Peru (South America). There are lots of "Perus" in the States so they are constantly coming up. I usually don't link to them, but this time I could not resist. I was once in a little jungle town called Indiana (Peru) and I was travelling with a student from Peru, Indiana. I just now discovered that Cole Porter was from the same Hoosier town.

Tech Central Station The Peru Snafu: "The Peruvian government's law number 27633 gives preferential, protectionist and discriminatory treatment to local Peruvian companies bidding on government tenders, including those for AIDS medicines. The final cost of drugs is somewhere between 12 and 20 percent above prices that Peruvian officials could obtain without the policy. According to the report Public Procurement and Competition in the Pharmaceutical Market, by the Peruvian agency for intellectual property protection, "the preferential treatment given to goods manufactured locally may have translated in the acquisition of some medicines at a higher price and therefore in an inefficient use of government's resources." This means that just reallocating funds away from domestic procurement could treat an extra 80 to 120 people." This opinion piece deals with Peruvian AIDS policy and related pharmaceutical policies. The author contends that this approach leads to overpriced treatments, thus depriving many of medicines because the budget can cover only a limited number of patients. I am sure that there are many angles to this story, but I have not got the time to get to the bottom of it.

Miami Herald Peru's teachers given a raise, end monthlong strike: "The defense minister told lawmakers Wednesday that the hostages had been released before his forces got there. He also said that Techint had maintained contact with the rebels during the hostage ordeal, with the military monitoring communications to pinpoint the location of the hostages. The rebels managed to escape into the dense jungle with nearly 3,000 sticks of dynamite lifted from Techint's camp during the kidnapping." Toledo is getting hammered for saying that the military had freed the hostages when the attackers released them and fled into the jungle before the troops arrived.

Mercuray News Peru allows president to address Stanford graduates: "Lawmakers finally approved the travel plans Thursday evening. Toledo, who declined to comment, is scheduled to address the university's 4,900 graduates Sunday morning. [Stanford's senior assistant to the president, Jeffrey] Wachtel had worked to convince Peruvian congress members that the speech would be good for Toledo and Peru." Toledo's international travels, $4 million so far this year, have been a lightning rod for opposition rants.

Thursday, June 12

Bloomberg Latin America: "'Techint appears to be their primary target, because it is involved in a huge project and works in remote locations with poor police presence, but it would be naive to think other companies can't be attacked,' said by phone Roger Rumrill, an independent consultant in political violence and drug trafficking. Rumrill said Peru should increase overall security against terrorism."

Reuters AlertNet Peru Camisea gas project seeks better security: "Techint, which leads the construction of the two pipelines from gas fields in the southeastern jungle to the Pacific coast, has around 30 camps along the pipeline routes, some in places without roads or other infrastructure." The government would have to mobilize an army division to provide protection along the whole route of the pipeline.

SFGate / AP Peru's Toledo denies guerrilla activity making a comeback: "A report released last month by a private terrorism monitoring group, the Council for Peace, estimated that there are some 730 Shining Path guerrillas still operating in remote jungle and mountain areas." Still contradictory reports coming out of the interior -- was a ransom paid?

Bloomberg Peruvian Teachers Accept Pay Offer to End Month-Long Strike: "Olmedo Auris, a leader of Peru's teachers union, said by phone in Lima that union representatives from 24 regions in Peru agreed last night and early today to end the work stoppage, accepting 100 soles ($29) more a month, half of what they asked at the start of the strike." More details.

MSNBC / Reuters Peru teachers back at work after monthlong strike: "The national teachers' union voted at a convention late on Wednesday to lift the strike, called on May 12 to press a range of demands, including a $60 monthly wage increase to an average of $200." Until the next time.

Fitch Ratings / PRWire Popular Turmoil in Peru Could Have Adverse Policy Implications: "Fitch said that it expects the current political turmoil probably does not presage a political or economic crisis in the near-term. The agency believes that an overt challenge to President Toledo's incumbency is unlikely." I gues that means that a coup is not likely.

Wednesday, June 11

Independent (UK) Shining Path 'remnants' blamed for Peru kidnap: "Julio Aguilar, a jack hammer operator who was among the hostages, told a local radio station that 15 to 20 guerrillas had made the raid. "They were all armed," he said, adding that children and at least 10 women were with them. Techint has been using the camp to build a pipeline to carry natural gas from the Amazon jungle across the Andes to the Pacific coast." Julio is getting a lot of coverage.

Turning history into production

I chanced across a new site for me, Cusichaca Trust, a charity that puts pre-hispanic agricultural systems back into production. It is currently working in Ayacucho and Apurimac. Previously, it worked in Cusco in the district of Ollantaytambo. If you've ever seen the Inca terrace works there, you'll understand why they were drawn to the area. The founder is Ann Kendall, an archeologist long familar with Peru. I can remember stories in the Lima Times about her work. More power to them!

I found the site by checking my log of referring links, and found other surprises. La Esquina del Movimiento was found by Oscar Jr. Was Here. The author (obviously, Oscar Junior) has put together a world-wide listing of weblogs.On the main blog page, he seems to follow the Iraq War and the Middle East fairly closely. I appreciate the inclusion of this modest blog in his listing. A year ago, I was included on an entry.

I also discovered that my Peruvian poetry translations were picked by My Sendero resources were also cited for a History course at Rutgers University (that's in New Jersey for those not familiar with academic geography). The course was Colonialism to Globalization, taught by Professor Gail D. Triner.

MSNBC/AP Hostages freed, but is Peru free of Shining Path?: "Sociologist Raul Gonzalez, who has studied the guerrilla group for more than a decade, said Shining Path now sees farmers of coca leaf, the raw material for cocaine, as a key power base. Officials want to eradicate illegal coca in a U.S.-backed anti-drug fight in Peru, the world's No. 2 cocaine producer. 'Shining Path wants to get out and defend coca farmers and develop a base of support,' Gonzalez said. Analysts say the group also wants to take advantage of a recent court ruling that could grant civilian trials to hundreds of rebels locked up after summary military trials years ago." This article says that Sendero's work with coca growers is a new development, but this goes back to the late 1970s when Abimael Guzman was planning the start of "armed struggle." I think the reporters is really putting words into Raul Gonzalez's mouth, because I know that he is well aware of SL's history.

CNN / Reuters Kidnapped workers freed in Peru: "Toledo said the hostages were freed without paying the kidnappers -- who were demanding $1 million, weapons and high-technology communications gear from Techint. But released hostage Julio Aguilar said he and others were freed after 'it appeared that the company met their demands.' Aguilar told RPP radio that 15 to 20 armed people, including a number of women, entered the camp 'peacefully' in the early hours of Monday. Among the hostages were six Colombians and one Chilean." More details -- some contradictory -- about the hostage-taking incident.

Knight-Rider Cocaine production increases in Peru as U.S. pressures Colombian growers: "The official and other experts attribute the resurgence in Peru of coca, the raw material for cocaine, mainly to intense pressure on coca growers in neighboring Colombia, where Washington has spent nearly $2 billion in recent years. Other factors include lapses in enforcement in Peru and the failure of U.S.-promoted alternative crops such as coffee and heart of palm to be as profitable as coca for Peruvian farmers." Discussion of the policy to combat drug trafficking is a perfect counterpoint to the latest attacks attributed to Sendero in the coca-growing area of Ayacucho.

BBC Peru's Shining Path: "But are the rebels now turning to new methods? If the kidnapping was indeed carried out by the Shining Path, it would be the first time that they have sought to raise money with ransom demands. So far, the 20 armed rebels involved in the latest operation have evaded capture. And the key question is whether such incidents are repeated." From London, the BBC takes a turn at the role of Senderologist, drawing on the expertise of John Crabtree, who worked at the Peruvian Times way back in the late 1970s. He's now an academic at St Anthony's College, Oxford.

Tuesday, June 10

MSNBC / Reuters Rebel Venezuelan officers flee into Peru exile: "Army Capt. Wismerk Martinez and 2nd Lt. Gilberto Landaeta asked for asylum in the Peruvian embassy in Caracas in April, a year after they allegedly took part in the short-lived rebellion against former paratrooper Chavez."

Miami Herald / AP Peru's Army Says Rebels Free 60 Hostages: "An army officer, speaking on condition of anonymity, said troops encountered the hostages around 1 p.m. in the jungle near the town of Palma Pampa, 45 miles northeast of the Andean city Ayacucho. After securing the hostages, troops were moving to encircle the fleeing kidnappers, the officer said. Police suspect the kidnappers were from the rebel group Shining Path." For more information about political violence within the Peruvian context and Sendero Luminoso.

BBC Andes hostages set free: "Mr Toledo has for the first time blamed what he termed the remnants of the Shining Path rebel movement for the kidnapping. He said there had been no ransom payment and that his administration would not negotiate with the rebels. Despite a threat by the hostage-takers to kill their prisoners in the event of an assault, the president ordered about 300 army and police commandos into the region." The whole episode is rather scarce on details so we'll have to wait for more reporting before drawing any firm conclusions.

MSNBC / Reuters Peru to fire teachers who stay out of class: "The government has said it would terminate contracts of non-staff teachers and suspend staff teachers if they refuse to resume classes. Most of Peru's 280,000 teachers are taking part in the strike. That strike, along with others involving farmers and court and hospital workers, led President Alejandro Toledo on May 28 to send out troops and suspend some constitutional rights in a 30-day state of emergency." The government waffles between tough guy and push-over. Lumina signs option to buy northern Peru copper property for $2 million plus: "El Galeno 'will boost our inferred resources to 9.32 billion pounds of copper and 2.8 million ounces of gold, while measured and indicated resources will remain at 4.4 billion pounds of copper and 7.3 million ounces of gold.' Lumina, which describes itself as 'a perpetual call on copper,' said the option allows it to buy the property from a private Peruvian company with ascending cash and cash-and-share instalments totalling $2 million US. The payments start with $10,000 on signing and end with a $1.2-million payment after four years."

Mercury News A last hope for W.W. II reparations: "In a little-known chapter of American history, Latin American families of Japanese, German and Italian ancestry were forced into custody during World War II, stripped of their passports and shipped to detention camps in Texas. In one devastating move, the Shibayamas lost their shirt factory, their businesses, their freedom and their bright future. Denied a legal remedy for the past two decades, the 73-year-old San Jose resident and his brothers Kenichi and Takeshi are petitioning the last venue they can today: the InterAmerican Commission on Human Rights, a body of the Organization of American States." Another local story that has impact on Peru -- the pllight of Peruvians of Japanese descent who ended up in detention camps in the U.S. during the WWII.

Voice of America Environmental Heroes: Peru's Maria Elena Foronda: "She founded Natura, a conservation group, and helped neighborhoods organize through local "Citizen Environmental Vigilance Committees" to investigate, monitor and negotiate with fishmeal companies to curb their toxic pollution. But the road to change has not been easy. In 1994, Ms. Foronda Farro was accused of connections with a terrorist group the Shining Path and sentenced to 20 years in prison." Foronda received the Goldman Environmental Prize for grassroots activism and environmental achievement. She works in Chimbote, a seaport that needs an army of environmental activists to turn it around.

NY Times 11-Year Trail in a Shooting Ends in Peru: "The gunman and two accomplices escaped, but two others were captured when a getaway car crashed. Linden detectives said they quickly learned that the man who shot Detective Goncalves was Enrique Coropuna Huaman, a Peruvian who used the nickname Kiki and was thought to be living with friends in Queens. State and federal arrest warrants were issued for him, said Detective Frank Leporino, who has directed the 11-year search." [Registration required, but free] A crime trail that led New Jersey, acroos the United States and finally back to Peru. All this time, Coropuna carried a police slug in his shoulder.

Bloomberg Attackers Kidnap 60 Pipeline Workers in Peru's Andes: "The attack occurred today near the village of Tocate, Defense Minister Aurelio Loret de Mola said in a statement. Army troops were sent to the area to try to free the hostages and to 'preserve physical integrity and life,' he said. He blamed the attack on about 60 'armed criminals." Sendero knows how to leverage its attacks to get maximum political impact at a time when the government looks weak. Four Colombian, two Argentines and a Chilean were among the forieingers kidnapped.

BBC Peru gunmen 'threaten hostages': "They [the kidnappers] have also demanded one million dollars for the release of the hostages, who include eight foreigners, in addition to 500 boxes of explosives and 60 radios, Canal N TV reported." Sketchy reports from Ayacucho says that this may be a Shining Path column with support from local coca-growers and/or ronderos that would like to squeeze some cash out of the system.

Sunday, June 8

Reuters Peruvian teachers prolong strike: "A faction of the union opposes the accords, saying they fail to meet the key demands of the teachers, who earn an average of 700 soles ($200) a month. Teachers want a monthly raise of 210 soles ($60). The government has offered to raise their pay by 100 soles ($29) a month and to double salaries by 2006."

Miami Herald TV-takeover drama: 'reality show' in Peru: "The controversy is but the latest scandal to mar Toledo's battered presidency. While his critics have little proof, Toledo stands accused of using the judiciary and government agencies to take over two television stations. And, in doing so, the critics say, he is resorting to the same sort of skulduggery he railed against while running in opposition to the exiled former President Alberto Fujimori, whom he accused of unduly influencing the courts and of using tricks and back-room deals to tilt the press in his favor." The Delgado Parker family has cultivated political favors among different governments (Morales Bermudez, Belaunde, Garcia, come to mind) with tremendous resilence. They ran amok with Fujimori and Montesinos who effectively took the Panamericana TV company away from them.

Saturday, June 7

Real Cities / Knight Rider Despite protected status, dolphin meat widely available in Peru: "By conservative estimates, 3,000 dolphins a year are trapped in Peruvian fishermen's nets, harpooned as they feed in shallow water or trapped, hauled to the beach and clubbed to death for human consumption. Fishermen kill many more for shark bait. Although there are no reliable figures on the region's dolphin population or its losses, thousands more die throughout the eastern tropical Pacific in the nets of deep-sea tuna and marlin fishermen." The story points to MundoAzul as an organization fighting against the slaugher of dolphins in Peru. Increasing awareness about the depletion of ocean resources is seaping into the news. Peru has long over-exploited the ocean, especially the anchovy schools that thrive in the Humbolt current.

Cultural Kingdom

I have added a link in La Lista to the Asociacion Internacional de Peruanistas (AIP) and its mailing list. It seems to be moderately active, about 50 messages over the past year. The mailing list service is in Spanish so it might be hard for some to understand how to subscribe. There is another web page that describes the purpose of the organization in English. In 1999, it sponsored a gathering at Harvard University, Peru Hoy. A good share of the presentations have text versions available, but they are all in Spanish.

Friday, June 6

ZNet Mass Strike Brings Peru To A Standstill: "A poll released on Friday showed that 71 percent of Peruvians supported the protests, reflecting the widespread anger with the Toledo government’s inability to live up to its promises. Toledo, seen by many as an activist and reformer, took office in 2001, replacing the corrupt 10-year reign of Alberto Fujimori. Among his promises was to create 1 million jobs a year. Yet unemployment has stayed at 10 percent since he took office." A left wing view of what's going on in Peru.

Nasdaq / Dow Jones Peru's President Toledo Under Fire Again For $12,000/Mo Salary: "Since the President's salary sets the limit for many other public service officials, this would also serve to lower wage costs elsewhere in the public service, Garcia said. Shortly after taking office in July 2001, Toledo set his salary at $18,000 a month, but later reduced it under public pressure." I'm surprised that Toledo did not take action a lot earlier on his salary issue.

Thursday, June 5

Bloomberg Peruvian Institute's Du Bois: President Toledo, Economy: "Fritz Du Bois, manager of the Peruvian Institute of Economy, talks with Bloomberg's Renzo Pipoli via telephone from Lima about Peru's budget deficit and economy, President Alejandro Toledo's government and the outlook for the next three years of his presidency." Listen to the economic forecast. About 9 minutes, in English. Du Bois says that private investment has lagged behind growth. Predicts a cabinet shuffle to bolster the weak performance in the current political crisis. Government has not given clear signals to foreign or local investors.

Forbes / Reuters Peru to invest $10 mln in 2003 to promote tourism: "Tourism, Peru's third foreign cash earner after mining and fishing, brought this poor country $841 million in 2002, according to government estimates. But President Alejandro Toledo's government is trying to broaden tourism in Peru -- concentrated in just a handful of sites -- and increase the number of visitors each year." One of the bottlenecks is that many sites in Peru could not handle increased tourism, while neglected areas go begging for tourists.

BBC End to Peru emergency in sight: "The agreement includes salary increases for the teachers and a promise from President Alejandro Toledo to double their pay within three years. The breakthrough was welcomed by union leader Nilver Lopez, but he warned that the strike would continue at least until Saturday, when teachers vote on the deal." That would mean an increase to $400 a month by the end of Toledo's term in office. Teacher's pay would still be pitiful.

Bloomberg Peru Demonstrations Undermining Toledo's Control, FT Reports: "Analysts said Toledo has failed to provide any strategy for spurring economic growth, improving revenue collection, or attracting foreign investment, the FT reported. About 60 percent of Peru's businesses are unlicensed and tax revenue amounts to only 12 percent of gross domestic product compared with 36 percent in Brazil, the newspaper said." This is a rewrite of a Financial Times article, and manages to be contradictory. Peru is the "hottest" economy in Latin America so how can the government be slighted for not spurring economic growth. It's a lousy tax collector because of the huge size of the informal economy (black market) that even legitimate companies participate in for survival. Comparing Brazil to Peru is like asking why Mike Tyson would always win a bout with a flyweight.

It's sad to say, but if Peru grew any faster, it could probably not be able to absorb the capital flow. It would generate inefficiencies. On the other hand, there are plenty of things to blame Toledo and his people for, but this synosis did not mention any of them.

Miami Herald As Peru's statistics improve, its people get angrier: "Peru's best hope of creating jobs lies in new investments, and investors won't open export-oriented factories if they face an end to the current U.S. trade preferences in three years. By simply making the current trade preferences permanent through a free trade deal, Bush could help rapidly drive up employment levels." If the economy is going so strong, why is Toledo so unpopular? An attempt at an answers, at least from a distance.

Wednesday, June 4

MSNBC / AP Peru teachers extend walkout as government offers smaller pay raise: "The estimated 300,000 public school teachers want a $60-a-month raise, but the government published a decree Tuesday giving teachers only about half that amount. On average, Peruvian teachers earn less than $200 a month." More details about the ongoing feud between teachers and the government.

Tuesday, June 3

LA Times Tempest in a Glass of Pisco: "Just about everyone agrees that the drink was first produced in and around Pisco, the Peruvian port city that has had that name since the early days of the Spanish colonization of South America. The name is derived, Peruvian historians say, from a Quechua word for the clay flasks that were used to store the liquor. The Peruvians say Chilean troops took pisco home with them after occupying part of their country during the 1879-83 War of the Pacific. The Chileans counter that they were making pisco long before then." Registration is required but free. Read this article before it disappears into the LA Times archives. Not only did the Chileans pillage Peru, they've stolen the national drink. Wars have been fought over less.

Yahoo / AP Protesters Pressing Peru Leader on Wages: "[Human rights activist Carlos] Basombrio said Toledo needs to make profound changes that include filling his Cabinet with better qualified ministers from across the political spectrum and cutting the high salaries of government officials to set an example of austerity."

Bloomberg Latin America: "Cabinet Chief Luis Solari said that Bishop Luis Bambaren had been named to mediate a solution, as teachers ignored a threat that they would be fired for failure to report to work and police used tear gas to disperse strikers in the central Peruvian city of Huancayo. Most of Peru's 27-million population is Catholic. The announcement came at the government palace in Lima after Toledo met with political and labor leaders." This is reminiscent of the 1979 (?) Sutep strike that lasted for more than 100 days and the Catholic Church had to mediate a solution between the Maoist-led union and the military government. Of course, the teacher's plight is probably worse now than 25 years ago.

Reuters 20,000 March to Challenge Peru's Toledo: "Police fired tear gas at protesters in several towns, including in the second biggest city of Arequipa, where a regional strike froze nearly all public transport and shut schools and universities. All told, protesters took to streets in at least 20 towns and cities, the state ombudsman said." Protests well up even when the economy is recovering. Of course, Toledo's ineptitude just makes it worse.

Monday, June 2

One World / Human Rights Watch Peru: Investigate Use of Lethal Force: "Defense Minister Aurelio Loret de Mola said that the troops involved in the Puno incident opened fire in self-defense, after giving warnings and finding themselves surrounded by a hostile crowd armed with sharp objects, stones, and Molotov cocktails."

MSNBC / AP Peru's Toledo on the ropes as protesters vow to defy state of emergency "That Toledo is on the ropes may come as a surprise considering that annual inflation is 1.5 percent, the lowest in decades, and for the second straight year Peru leads Latin America in economic growth. But Peru remains one of Latin America's poorest countries, and, fed up with their plight, more and more Peruvians have begun to take to the streets to demand help from a cash-strapped government."

Sunday, June 1

Gramma / AFP Bloody repression in Peru on second day of state of emergency: "At least four students died and 36 people were injured this Thursday in clashes between demonstrators and police in Puno (southeastern Peru) on the second day of the declared state of emergency." The Toledo administration joined a human rights complaint against Cuba in the United Nations because of a crackdown on dissidents. Now Cuba highlights the protests in Peru. I suspect that the news item is not just a chance occurrence.

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