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Thursday, July 31

Chief Cabinet Secretary says no to extradition

Japan Won't Extradite Fujimori to Peru, Fukuda Says: "Tokyo won't comply with Lima's request for the extradition of Alberto Fujimori, Peru's former president, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuo Fukuda said." Bloomberg Tokyo gives its answer.

Meanwhile, Peru's Ex-Leader Plans Political Comeback ABCNews / AP is a kind of "thumb-your-nose-in-their-face" story about Fujimori's response.

Also see my Fujimori spotlight and other background info.

Snapshot of a fallen Latin American strongman

Peru's Fujimori, roots and a new life in Japan: " Fujimori, who is considered a Japanese citizen because his parents registered him with consular authorities as an infant, denies these charges and accusations of corruption, saying they are a ploy by his political enemies. For this reason, he adds, he would not get a fair trial if he returned." MSNBC / Reuters This is a backgrounder that explains Fujimori's presidency and fall from power. At one point, Fujimori was portrayed as a new breed of authoritarianism -- no longer military coups and dictators were needed to rule a troubled country; instead, a strong-willed civilian with populist underpinnings who did not fear twisting the law in his favor.

Finally, Peru makes its extradition request for Fujimori offical

Peru Seeks Fujimori Extradition; Japan 'No' Likely: "Peruvian Foreign Minister Allan Wagner, speaking in Lima, urged Tokyo to act with haste, saying the extradition request complied with the three requirements set by international law. These were that there should be sufficient proof of guilt, that the charges against the accused were crimes in both countries, and that there was a guarantee of due process." Reuters It's been a long leadup to the event, with plenty of hint-dropping along the way.

Wednesday, July 30

Birth control pills and other contraceptives are disappearing from the Peruvian market

Birth-Rate Policies Whip-Saw Women in Peru: "The Peru health ministry last year denounced condoms that contained the spermicide nonoxynol-9. This spermicide was found by the World Health Organization to potentially increase a woman's chances of contracting HIV, since the spermicide aggravated the lining of the vagina, making it easier for HIV to penetrate the vaginal walls. The WHO, however, reiterated that using these types of condoms was better than no condom use, but the Peruvian government failed to mention this or to recommend other types of condoms other than those containing spermicide, thus leaving the impression that all condoms were dangerous." Women's eNews The strong influence of Opus Dei in the previous cabinet meant that the Peruvian government swung to a pro-life stance, after Fujimori's government was at the opposite end of the spectrum. In addition, women are required to register their pregnancies from the moment of conception. This is an opinion piece so I have not been able to check up on the validity of most statements.

Poor memory in Tokyo

In Peruvian politics, it's all in the delivery: "As Toledo apologized to Peruvians on Monday for failing to fulfill his promises in an Independence Day speech, Fujimori -- in exile in Japan after being toppled by a corruption scandal in 2000 -- unveiled his new 'Yes We Deliver' movement." Reuters AlertNet Escape-prone former presdient Alberto Fujimori launches a political movement remotely from his hideout in Tokyo. This is a person that the Japanese government has decided has Japanese citizenry, thus free from the extradition petition of the Peruvian government. See Reuters's Peru to Seek Fujimori Extradition This Week. Eat your cake and have it, too.

Alternative crops a tough sell in the Peruvian Amazon foothills.

As trafficking rises in Peru, farmers want larger legal market: "In the Aguaytia area, not far from the jungle border with Brazil, the U.S. Agency for International Development has spent more than $1 million on infrastructure projects and is trying to wean farmers to another alternative crop, palm oil, which is widely used for cooking. But it takes roughly two years for the palms to reach productive maturity, and farmers complain they aren't receiving the promised installment payments to get them through the transition. U.S. officials acknowledge delays but say the program is working now." Miami Herald A shorter version of this article was referred to earlier on this weblog, but this is more complete.

The story of alternative crops, in this case palm oil, is dead horse in the Peruvian Amazon. Coca growers have heard the story before but the Peruvian and U.S. governments never follow through. I can remember stories in the early 1980s about palm oil competing with coca, but it never happened. It's not an issue of just growing -- you need transport, loans, markets, wholesale and retail networks to get a new crop going. But somewhere before the goal, Washington changes administration or new priorities arise or the Lima government goes into free fall, and the whole scheme falls apart. Farmers have seen this again and again over the past 50 years and longer.

Tuesday, July 29

Amnesty International Spotlights Fujimori Case

Alberto Fujimori Must Be Brought to Justice for Human Rights Violations: "Amnesty International is urging the Japanese authorities to either return Alberto Fujimori to Peru -- where judicial proceedings have been started against him -- or to open an investigation in Japan into his responsibility for the human rights violations committed under his presidency." Amnesty International AI lends its voice to human rights organizations and the Peruvian government to get Alberto Fujimori investigated for his responsibility in abuses during his presidency.

Monday, July 28

Will Washington Back Amazon Natural Gas Pipeline?

U.S. to Vote on Aid for Peruvian Gas Project: "The Camisea natural gas project involves two Texas energy companies with close ties to the White House -- Hunt Oil Co. and Halliburton Co.'s Kellogg Brown & Root unit. In recent weeks, the administration has signaled that it supports the project, despite criticism from U.S. government officials concerned about harm to the rain forest and the Paracas National Reserve, Peru's only marine sanctuary for endangered birds and mammals." Washington Post

Peruvian economy may be losing steam

Taxing times for Peru's economy: "The latest figures show the economy grew by just 1.8% for the year to May. A recent spate of attacks by the left wing guerrilla group, Shining Path, means the government now has to find extra cash to beef up the police and armed forces. Together with the money needed to finance a pay rise for the country's teachers, the Peruvian state has to scrape together more than $200m (£120m). And it's decided the only option is to raise taxes. " BBC

Sendero guerillas say they've changed their ways

Peru's poor peasants raring to hunt Shining Path: "The Shining Path, or Sendero Luminoso in Spanish, is slowly regrouping after lying dormant for much of the past decade since the capture of its leader. The government relaxed its guard after its success against the group and became preoccupied with other problems, giving rebels an opening. As the rebels regather, Peru's poor farmers are trying to make a comeback with their own call to arms. The trouble is, they don't have any." Reuters AlertNet Reporting from the field says tht Shining Path is trying to portray itself as different from what it was back in the 1980s -- no more hacking people to death, no more intolerance of non-PCP groups.

Saturday, July 26

Puno altar turns up in US Southwest

Feds seize colonial masterpiece: Peru claims this is the 16th-century altarpiece from a village church near Lake Titicaca: "The work in question (about 1575-95) is “El Retablo de Los Angeles” (“Altarpiece of the angels”), a polychrome wooden carving of SS Michael and Gabriel beneath a Crucifixion surrounded by putti. The altarpiece, with an empty tabernacle space in the lower centre, is in three sections, stands more than 10 feet high and weighs more than 1000 pounds–not something one could carry in a suitcase. 'It’s the most important work to come out of Latin American in my 30-year career,' said the New York dealer Valerie Taylor, who sells Spanish colonial paintings." Art Newspaper

If you want to see some off-the-deepend stuff, check out Michel Van Rijn website. Mentioned in the article above, Van Rijn accuses a New Mexican art dealer of trafficking with the altar. A more measure, wire copy story is in Santa Fee Art Dealer Accused of Owning Stolen Altar Piece. Van Rijn is full of self-righteous indignation, but obviously knows the art trade and its seamier side.

Visiting Peruvian rowing team makes a mark

Peruvians enjoying hospitality, not to mention rowing success: "Although the event is a national championship, crews from Argentina, Canada, Mexico and Peru are being allowed to compete but not to challenge for U.S. titles and medals. Special guests of the Obergs on Thursday night - and of the Philadelphia and South Jersey rowing communities all week - were 12 members of Peru's Club de Regatas Lima." Philadelphia Inquirer I and my wife are active members of Club de Regatas Lima and have been for 20 years. Whenever we're in Lima, we dine at the Chinese restaurant at the Chorillos site and stroll on the beach. In the middle of a country going through social and economic deterioration, it is an island of stability and pampered services. I sometimes feel guilty about belonging, but not for long. Regatas has an active sports program for its members, especially in sports not traditionally popular in Peru (read football), like sailing, volleyball, basketball, swimming and others.

Friday, July 25

More on the cabinet shuffle

Peru's Latest Cabinet Shuffle Seen Market Friendly: "Energy and Mines Minister Jaime Quijandria is expected to be sworn in as finance minister, and be replaced at that post by business executive Hans Flury. Officials say that outgoing Finance Minister Jaime Silva Ruete will become the executive branch's choice to replace Richard Webb as president of the Central Reserve Bank of Peru." Nasdaq / DowJones Peru mines chief to be named finmin-sources Peru mines chief to be named finmin: "Local newspapers also reported that there would be cabinet changes in Interior and Energy and Mines. According to the reports, [Javier] Silva Ruete, who has served as finance minister since July 2002, will be named as Central Bank president." Forbes / Reuters Quijandria used to work for Silva Ruete the first time that he was finance minister, back in 1978. Silva Ruete has provide a measure of stability to an otherwise star-crossed government, and Quijandria will probably stay the course on policy. We'll see if these press reports play out over the weekend and the traditional Peruvian Independence Day celebration on July 28. President Toledo will speak to Congress that day.

The struggle of two party lines means Shining Path is still alive

Shining Path active again: "There are currently two lines of action within SL: 'Political Solution,' lead by Guzmán, that seeks an agreement with authorities that would include general amnesty for political prisoners, and 'Carry On,' that continues the armed struggle headed by Leonardo Huamán Zúñiga (aka Alipio) and 'Artemio,' whose true identity is unknown." This article analyzes how Sendero's re-emergence as a political and military presence comes out of the party's attempt to adapt to new conditions.

Vargas Llosa shows his mettle in a weekly op-ed column

The Other Vargas Llosa -- The novelist as courageous columnist: "What best characterizes these columns is their urgency and candor. They are written in and for the present and never succumb to ardor as a blinding power. 'Since I know that a hot head is incompatible with clear ideas and good prose,' the Peruvian argues, 'I try to write as dispassionately as possible, though I realize I don’t always succeed.' Indeed, there is little that is rushed in these pages. The arguments are crystalline and the prose is succinct and measured, in part because Vargas Llosa has learned well the dictum of philologist Raimundo Lida: 'Adjectives were made not to be used.' Don’t get me wrong: Vargas Llosa is quite opinionated. His main targets are the recalcitrant left in Latin America and the stubbornness of various nationalist movements in the industrialized world. He likes to talk of 'inquisitions' staged by progressive forces that inevitably result in 'levels of sectarianism and idiocy that have taken over political debate south of the Rio Grande.'" Newsweek A new book of essays that Mario Vargas Llosa publishes in El País and Caretas stirs strong priase from Ilan Stavans, a professor at Amhert College.

Legal wrangle ends with new copper mining prospect

Peru ruling paves way for huge copper deposit bid: "Las Bambas has 40.5 million tonnes of proven ore reserves with a grade of 2.0 percent copper, but [Energy and Mines Minister Jaime] Quijandria has said there is potential for further exploration. Quijandria has said Phelps Dodge, BHP Billiton, Brazil's Vale do Rio Doce and Southern Peru Copper Corp. have expressed interest in the project." The Supreme Court clears the way for the government to reopen bidding for mining claim.

Wednesday, July 23

Trying to quantify coca growing areas is hard in a country where it is legal

Peru's coca farmers hoping legal uses will boost crop's market: "The CIA's Crime and Narcotics Center, relying on satellite images, estimates that 88,900 acres of coca was grown in Peru last year, or 139 square miles. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, using different methodology, puts the figure at almost 116,000 acres, or 181 square miles. Independent researchers suggest the cultivation is as high as 148,300 acres, or more than 231 square miles." Knight Ridder The drug trade is what is helping to fund the Sendero insurgency.

Sendero starts to worry Peruvians

Peru relives a nightmare as rebels reappear: "Aside from Toledo's most acerbic critics, no one believes that Shining Path is an immediate, direct threat to the government. The group has no more than 200 armed followers and, at most, only a few hundred more militants involved in political work in the cities, government officials say. In its heyday in the early 1990's, Shining Path had nearly 10,000 members." International Herald Tribune / NYTimes

Updates to Peruvian Graffiti

I have updated both Alejandro Toledo and the Lori Berenson pages to catch up on events over the past six months. I have also added a page with the conclusions of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights with regard to Lori Berenson's case and its elevation to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in Costa Rica.

Local defense groups to get newer guns to hold back guerrillas

Peru to arm farmers to fight Shining Path: "The government believes there are just 135 active Shining Path guerrillas in the area around Ayacucho -- what it calls the 'remnants' of what was once one of the most brutal rebel forces in Latin America, and says the group has enslaved women and children for logistical backup. Analysts estimate there are are up to 450 Shining Path militants still free across Peru, as well as hundreds more non-armed members who provide support. Thousands of rebels are in jail after a major offensive by now fugitive ex-President Alberto Fujimori all but stamped the group out in the 1990s." Reuters AlertNet The ronderos were largely responsible for defeating Sendero in the central Andes in the early and mid 1990s. Now the government is recurring to them again to stamp out reborn guerrilla activity in Ayacucho.

There was also a report of an attack on an Ayacucho mining camp (Newsday / AP), but witnesses said that the masked men seemed more like bandits than guerrilla. Sendero liked to raid mining camps for explosives. No matter what happened in this case, it's clear that Sendero has stepped up its activities in Ayacucho.

Council on Hemispheric Affairs

Toledo's Stock Continues to Fall as His Approval Rating Approaches Single Digits: "Given Toledo?s abhorrent past and the current state of a country devoid of political talent at the top post?a legacy bequeathed to the country from the days of the authoritarian rule of Alberto Fujimori? he must decide whether he is going to step up to the plate and deliver, or merely conjure up more of the same while he stands on the sidelines, little more than a spectator." Council on Hemispheric Affairs This July 2 memorandum draws on a variety of sources to assess the performance of the Toledo presidency. Also have a look at this analysis of the state of emergency from May this year.

Tuesday, July 22

Small but influential Jewish community in Lima

Peru´s small Jewish community is shaken by scandal, corruption: "Except for the former finance minister, Jews generally have stayed out of politics, though Peru does have many prominent Jewish businessmen. They include Isaac Galsky, owner of Sindicato Pesquero S.A., a fish-meal processing plant, and Jacques Levy, the former head of BNM and current owner of Lima´s five-star Hotel Los Delfines. Of Peru´s 3,000 Jews, Topf said with some exaggeration, '2,999 of them live in Lima,' where the Union Israelita del Peru has approximately 500 member families. " JTA The Jewish community has shrunk to half of what it was in the 1970s -- pressed by the tough economic conditions to seek brigher horizons elsewhere.

Alpamayo avalanche signals more to come

8 Climbers Missing After Peru Avalanche: "Four Germans, two Israelis, one Venezuelan and one Peruvian were believed to have been buried, said police Lt. Henry Paz, director of the high mountain rescue unit in nearby Huaraz, 180 miles (285 kilometers) north of Lima. He did not identify the victims." Guardian (UK) / AP Global warming and its impact on glaciers, especially those near the Equator, will probably loosen ice on the Andean slopes.

Thursday, July 17

Native Americans assess Toledo's performance

Peru's embattled Indian president: "Conditions on the ground are very tough. While sustaining his personal linkages with the Indian bases by stressing education programs and more recently initiating a national anti-poverty campaign, it remains to be seen if the beleaguered Toledo can withstand the agitation of popular economic desperation." Indian Country Today The usual perspective of Toledo being caught between a rock and a hard place, but it is interesting that a U.S. Indian publication is watching Peru.

Peru tries to corner Japan into giving up Fujimori

Peru Nears Fujimori Extradition Request: "Fujimori has lived in Tokyo in self-imposed exile since November 2000, when he fled Peru amid a corruption scandal that toppled his decade-long regime. Since then, Peruvian prosecutors have filed charges against him ranging from abandoning office to corruption and authorizing a death squad to kill suspected rebel collaborators." Newsday / AP

Christian kids take mission to Carabayllo slum north of Lima

Teens spend 10 days at work in Peruvian slum: "The teens, who returned home July 1, also put in time digging holes for the bamboo posts that would support the church's new roof. When they weren't teaching or working, they talked with residents about their faith in nearby marketplaces, and participated in prayer sessions, Getz said." Northbrook Star (Glenview, IL) There are lots of these short-term work visits that U.S. churches engage in to spread the faith but also assist the poor in improving their community resources.

Money in the bank

Peru and the World Bank agree on $93M in loans: "The World Bank announced on Wednesday that it had granted Peru three loans, for a total of $93 million, to fund rural education, water and sewage lines in Lima as well as exports." Miami Herald / Bloomberg

Tuesday, July 15

Oh, Cubillas, where art thou?

Peru must stop living in the past, says coach: "Peruvians still fondly recall the golden period when their team, inspired by playmaker Teofilio Cubillas, reached the last eight of the 1970 and 1978 World Cups with flowing, Brazilian-style football. Nowadays, Peru's international performances are generally summed up in the phrase: 'Jugamos como nunca y perdimos como siempre.' That translates to: 'We played like never before and lost as usual.'
Peruvians are tired of seeing their team pass the ball around neatly in midfield, fail to make progress and then get hit on the break." Hindustan Times / Reuters Funny that a Hindu newspaper picked up this wire copy about Peru's football team. But the commentary is still valid. The national team is a reflection of the domestic league play, and that's been pretty dismal recently.

Sunday, July 13

Fujimori has team working in Peru

Fujimori May Be Disgraced, but to Many in Peru He Looks Good in Comparison: "Every week, Mr. Fujimori's supporters, an eclectic mix that includes day laborers as well as some former members of Congress and publicists, meet in a newly rented office covered with pictures of the former president. They run newspapers, including one called Fuji News, trumpeting the accomplishments of the Fujimori government, which they say fixed a broken economy and brought to heel two rebel groups." NY Times The one kink in Fujimori's comeback plan is that his primary rival is Alan Garcia who was in exile for almost a decade while Fujimori ruled. He's not going to leave a door open for his great persecutor to return.

Sendero gears up for business

Peru Renews Hunt for Shining Path Rebels: "Villagers in the area said the Shining Path is now better armed than the military and is providing protection to drug traffickers. They say they have seen armed rebels escort mule trains packed down with partially refined cocaine out of the Apurimac River valley." Miami Herald / AP This is the same game that Sendero has played since the mid-1980s. It's just that the cocaine trade has picked up for Peru and SL can get more money out of growers and traffickers.

Friday, July 11

Time to foot the bill for settling the teachers' strike

Peru Congress Raises Sales Tax to Pay Roads, Anti-Terror Effort: "The increase in the sales tax, which is imposed on all goods and services sold in Peru, is part of a larger government plan to raise $217 million to pay for a $29-a-month salary increase for about 300,000 schoolteachers, to boost anti-terror measures, build roads and other expenses. About $100 million will come from cuts in government spending. The government also increased selective taxes on fuels, beer and cigarettes." Bloomberg

Would you use your Black and Decker for brain surgery?

Peru Doctor Performs Brain Surgery with Store Drill: "'We have no (neurosurgical) instruments at the hospital. ... He was dying, so I had no choice but to run to a hardware store to buy a drill and use the pliers that I fix my car with, of course after sterilizing them,' Cesar Venero told Reuters in a telephone interview. " Yahoo / Reuters This kind of story would go in Ripley's Believe It or Not if it didn't seem like routine inventiveness out of necessity in many parts of Peru.

Sendero ambushes a Peruvian Marine patrol in Ayacucho

Guerrillas Kill 7 In Peru: "A marine captain, four other marines and two civilian guides were killed in the attack Thursday afternoon in the department of Ayacucho when rebels opened fire after they stopped to take a break in a clearing, said an army officer who asked not to be identified. " CBS News / AP Bad news for the Toledo administration because the Lima media is going to start pounding the drums for more defense and security spending. People do not want to see Shining Path revive its revolt in the backwaters of the Andes. This is Reuters' version of the same attack.

Webb says adios to Central Bank

Webb resigns as president of Peru Central Bank: "The statement did not give a reason for the resignation but his differences with members of the bank's board have been widely reported. The resignation of Webb does not mean there are differences over monetary policy, the statement said." Forbes / Reuters It's hard to know if Richard Webb is leaving because of disagreements or if it's time just to move on. It's not like he hasn't done this before (1980-1985) -- or that he doesn't have other business offers. Also see Bloomberg's Peru Central Bank's President Richard Webb Resigns.

The Japanese government gets some bedside reading

Peru says Fujimori extradition request has been translated into Japanese: "Special government prosecutor Luis Vargas Valdivia told CPN radio on Thursday that the 700-page extradition file would be presented to the Japanese government following its review by Peru's Supreme Court." MSNBC / AP The government's biggest problem has been to find a competent Japanese translator to complete the work.

Thursday, July 10

Globalization swings in Washington State and Peru - Asparagus

[Washington] State's asparagus industry hit by wages, Peru imports: "Two factors are blamed for the industry's demise. Cheap asparagus from Peru has flooded the market because of incentives offered by the United States to curb production of opium and coca, Bouchey said. Del Monte plans to shift production to Peru. The state's escalating minimum wage, which is tied to inflation, has driven up the costs of the labor-intensive production in Washington, Bouchey and Schreiber said. " The Seattle Times I am sure that school children all over the States will start boycotting Peruvian asparagus because they want to keep it as expensive as possible so their mothers won't put it on the dinner table.

Wednesday, July 9

Ghosts from 17 years ago

Exhumed bodies believed to be Peru massacre victims: "In August 2000, the Costa Rica-based Interamerican Human Rights Court ruled that Peruvian state, then headed by President Alan Garcia, was responsible for the killings of two of the inmates. 'There is evidence and testimony that there were executions and the only person in charge of the Joint Chiefs of Staff was former President Alan Garcia,' said Quintanilla." Reuters AlertNet I am surprised the the IHRC is pursuing this case so proactively.

Speculation about changes in Peru's Central Bank

Peru's Central Bank Deputy Chief Denies President Resigned: "Since April, the bank's board has let go several officials, including general manager Henry Barclay and information and culture manager Manuel Ruiz Huidobro. [Richard] Webb opposed the board's decision to ask Barclay to leave, according Vidal Silva, the central bank's spokesman. " Bloomberg Webb is a two-time president of the Central Bank and a known quantity to bankers and financiers.

Monday, July 7

Cheerleading for the "People"

Peru, the struggle is back: National strike actions grow: "The regional fronts are now organizing a July 17 national strike against the paquetazo. The people are saying no; they will try to prevent the IMF's 'adjustment' policies and the deterioration of the lives of working people. " Workers World This is not your usual "impartial journalism" that you get from wires agencies and news papers. This is put out on the Workers World Party's website. But it's still a valid take on the situation in Peru.

Sunday, July 6

Trying to make Sendero sound like a dying species

Peruvian Police Capture Last Shining Path Leader: "Cerron Cardosa was a member of Shining Path's central committee and attended the guerilla group's founding meeting in 1989, the news agency said." Bloomberg / AFP There is no founding date of 1989. It's much more likely to have been the graduation of the first class of SL cadres enlisted in the "popular war" in 1978. That was the generation of SL leaders who really held a lot of sway in the party, even more than the leaders from the decade before. Also see the BBC's Peru holds senior rebel leader, which provides better details about the arrest and its significance.

Tintaya copper mine may come back in production

BHP May Reopen, Sell Tintaya Mine, Macquarie Says: "Copper prices have jumped more than a fifth since BHP Billiton announced its decision in November 2001 to shutter Tintaya, Macquarie said. An anticipated pickup in economic growth next year in the U.S., the world's second-biggest copper-consuming nation, would bolster demand for the metal. Prices on the London Metal Exchange have risen 5.7 percent this year." Bloomberg But the U.S. economic recovery is so shallow that demand may not pick up next year.

More on the quipu codebreakers

Researcher sees strands of ancient secrets: "The theory has Incan scholars abuzz. The discovery of true Incan writing would revolutionize their field the same way that deciphering the Egyptian hieroglyphics or Mayan glyphs lifted a veil from those civilizations. But it also has broader interest because the khipus could constitute what is, to Western eyes, a very unorthodox writing system, using knots and strings in three dimensions instead of markings on a flat expanse of paper, clay, or stone." Boston Globe There was an earlier story about deciphering Inca quipus in the Independent (UK).

Peru's ENACO plans to launch a beverage based on coca -- and it's not tea

Peru firm exports coca leaves: "Stepan buys about 110 tons of coca leaves from ENACO each year to make cocaine for pharmaceutical companies. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration grants Stepan a special license to import coca leaves." Miami Herald Every tourist who has visited Cusco has probably been prescribed coca tea to releave altitude sickness. I frequently drank it as a change of pace from cofffee. Now ENACO is trying to find legitimate ways to industrize coca production. This story describes a "power drink to compete with imported, high caffeine drinks." That sounds like a challenge to Coca Cola.

Peruvian First Lady in Trouble Again

Peru's first lady steps down from unpaid post: "Karp's resignation from the unpaid position followed media reports that she was working on a US$6,000-a-month contract from a regional financial group to publish a book on indigenous movements. Critics accuse her of using her government office to work on the paid contract." CNN / AP Karp seems to have a tin ear when it comes to offending Peruvians.

Example of what's wrong with the Toledo government

Head of Petroperu fired after scandal emerges: "President Alejandro Toledo fired Hector Taco as head of Petroperu late Wednesday, a week after cabinet chief Beatriz Merino took office promising to end government waste. Press reports said Taco doled out 12 jobs to members of Toledo's Peru Posible party, replacing qualified officials with lesser-qualified candidates." Miami Herald / AFP

Abimael Guzman gets to tell his version of the war

Jailed Shining Path Chief Denies Terror: "A copy of a statement Guzman gave to court officials was made available to The Associated Press on Friday by Guzman's lawyer, Manuel Fajardo. Fajardo said the statement was presented on May 5 to judges preparing Guzman's new public trial, which is expected to begin in two to three months." Saratoga (FL) Herald Tribune / AP Chairman Gonzalo admits that he lead a "popular war" to overthrow the established order, but claims that it was not terrorism. It's strange that this wire story did not get picked up by more prominent media. It must have been that the July 4 holiday left only editors without historical perspective on the news desks.

Friday, July 4

Changes Coming

I did some updating on my Sendero page since I have not paid much attention to it for the past 18 months, and it happens to get lots of hits recently. I will probably do something more ambitious in the near future, as well as some updating on La Lista, Elections 2001 and Fujimori pages. In the meantime, I have my hands full with an upgrade of my web server, which requires me to upload all the files and transfer the domains to a new DNS server. I wanted to take advantage of new pricing at my hosting company, Interland. I have one other site that I am hosting.

More importantly, I have decided the resolve the split personality of this site, the Peruvian and personal content and the technical, professional and educational content that resides in the Backdoor Tech section. I purchased a domain name and will transfer the content to the new site. This section originally started out as a project for my Internet technologies course at the University of Maryland University College. Now it's evolving into something more oriented to my web development and IT work. It's just to constricting to try to fit it into the style that predominates in Peruvian Graffiti.

Strike two against tax package to pay teachers

Peru's Congress Budget Committee Rejects Phone Tax Proposal: "It was the second time in less than a month that Congress turned down the phone tax proposal to help cover a teachers' salary increase approved in May to end a strike and to cover other unforeseen expenses. The government will raise the remaining $162 million mainly through approved increases in fuel, beer and cigarette taxes." There are only so many ways to tap into the legitimate economy in Peru. So much of the economy is "cash and carry," that you have to tax transactions that are above board.

Rough Waters for Peru's Floating Islands

Rough Waters for Peru's Floating Islands: "Centuries ago the small indigenous Uros tribe conceived of the islands as a way to isolate and protect themselves from rival tribes, the Collas and the Incas. The Uros people harvested the reeds in the shallows of the lake, bundled them together tightly and built floating island platforms complete with reed houses and canoes. Their lives have been intertwined with the totora reed ever since—but recent developments are challenging that traditional lifestyle." National Geographic News

Shining Path seizes the political opportunity

Shining Path raids seen posing new threat in Peru: "On Tuesday night, a column of heavily armed Shining Path rebels fired shots into the air and intercepted two all-terrain vehicles, one of which was transporting a top regional official, on an isolated road in Peru's jungle. 'They held a gun to my head and then ordered us to lay on the ground. They were about 20 terrorists, led by a woman,' Antonio Adrianzola, one of the official's security guards, told Reuters in a telephone interview from northern Peru." MSNBC / Reuters Frankly, the actions carried out by Sendero are small beans when compared with what they used to do. A raid on a deserted police post, stopping vehicles on a jungle road, kidnapping workers on a jungle construction site, these forays are not going to threaten the government. The problem, however, is that the Toledo government is extremely weak now. Sendero has always known how to take advantage of the national political stage to amp up the reverberations of their actions. They saw the rising protests of the past two months as an opportunity that they seized on. A lot will depend on whether they can sustain the offensive and whether they can expand beyond their traditional haunts, in the coca-growing areas of Ayacucho and Huallaga.

Thursday, July 3

Toledo did not impress at Stanford commencement

EditionToledo emphasizes value of education: "Many audience members were not impressed by Toledo.'I did not hear one positive thing about him,' said Wanda Rouzan, whose daughter Breyana was graduating. 'There were places where he paused for applause, and I know he was met with stony silence from our section. It felt like he was launching into a campaign speech.'" The Stanford Daily Online Apparently Peruvian president Alejandro Toledo missed another opportunity at Stanford where he gave the commencement speech. He repeated his old story about his rise from shoeshine boy to head of state. So he made people in Peru angry for leaving the country during a political crisis and he failed to impress Stanford graduates and family member for his lack of relevance.

Wednesday, July 2

Fujimori as brazen as ever

Fugitive Fujimori plots comeback: "Fujimori's take-charge attitude is admired by many Japanese who blame their own country's crippling economic slowdown on their vacillating leaders. As the first person of Japanese descent to lead a foreign country, Fujimori appears to his Japanese admirers as both a strong-willed outsider and one of their own." Japan Times / AP From his Tokyo safehaven, former president Alberto Fujimori continues to claim that he is working towards his political comeback.

Peru's inflation down

Peruvian Consumer Prices Fall For a Third Month in June in Lima: "Consumer prices fell 0.47 percent in June, bringing inflation in the first half of the year to 1.26 percent and to 2.17 percent in the past 12 months, Peru's Statistics Institute said in a statement." Bloomberg The country's starvation diet just got a little cheaper.

Shining Path hits again

Shining Path rebels raid police station in remote Andean Indian community: "There were no casualties Monday night in Uranmarca, 50 miles southeast of Ayacucho, because the police were tipped off by villagers of the impending raid and fled, but the attack highlighted the rebel resurgence." MSNBC / AP

Technocracy triumphs over weak politicians

Tax lady tries to tidy up Toledo's troubled Peru: "'Political analyst Mirko Lauer calls Merino's appointment a 'technocracy triumphant' -- with experienced bureaucrats taking the reins of government from weak political parties. 'The prime minister is not really a party person. She is a CEO and technocrat,' said Lauer." The designation of Peru's first woman prime minister has scored points locally and internationally. But Toledo is in such a politically deep hole that even the best technocrats may not be able to get him through to the end of his term. Mirko, a sharp -- and blunt -- political observer, maintains that the best forecast can only see about six months into the future. Also see MercoSur Press's Lady for Peru and Guardian (UK) / AP Peru's First Female P.m. Begins New Role.

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