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Monday, September 29

Illegal logging is big-bucks business

A Swirl of Foreboding in Mahogany's Grain: "Environmentalists' greatest fear is that the presence of loggers here, deep in the jungle on the edge of an Indian reserve, could presage the arrival of settlers, who would bring the kind of slash-and-burn agriculture that already consumes a swath of the Amazon the size of Maryland each year. The mahogany trade remains legal within stringent international rules. With a recent crackdown on illegal logging in Brazil, for years the world's mahogany king, Peru is in the midst of a decade-long boom, and is now the largest producer. Last year, government figures show, Peru exported 45,000 cubic meters of the wood to American ports — 20 times the total in 1992. The equivalent of 50,000 trees has wound up in the United States, according to one estimate by the World Wildlife Fund." NY Times (Registration required, but free) Encroachment on the remotest contributories of the Amazon is stripping away mahogany trees and the control system is corrupted, according to this article.

Friday, September 26

Fujimori knew of the death squad, says unit chief

Suspected Peru Death Squad Chief Blames Fujimori: "Martin Rivas told journalist Umberto Jara in the interview that Fujimori had decided to follow a U.S. 'manual of nonconventional warfare' to combat leftist rebels and that was what led him to create the death squad. The interview was aired on the eve of the publication of Jara's book about the Grupo Colina squad, 'Eye for an Eye.' Jara worked for media organizations closely linked to Fujimori during the former president's 1990-2000 government." Reuters Fujimori wants to have it both ways, taking credit for masterfully directing the counterinsurgency campaign and liberating the Japanese Embassy hostages while the death squad and dirty war escaped his attention to detail.

Berenson needs stand-in groom at Peru jail wedding

Berenson needs stand-in groom at Peru jail wedding: "Apari, a 40-year-old law student, told Reuters a wedding date had been set, but would only say: 'I'm getting married in under two weeks.' He said he was seeking special permission to travel to the Cajamarca jail 530 miles (850 km) away, but has had no reply." Cajamarca is beautiful in spring, even within prison walls.

Wednesday, September 24

My favorite female singer actually set foot in Peru, goofed in her concert

Alanis makes Brazil gaffe in Peru: "The Canadian singer-songwriter told a press conference in Sao Paolo, Brazil, that she had been drinking before making the slip. 'I don't remember saying that. I think I was drunk,' she told journalists." BBC Morissette, we forgive you.

MRTA accepts the obvious -- defeat

Jailed Peru Rebel Chief Lays Down Arms: "In an interview published in Wednesday's Peru21 newspaper, Victor Polay acknowledged that the Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement has been defeated. 'The moment has arrived for the MRTA to actively join the political fight, within the framework of democracy,' said Polay, using the group's initials in Spanish. He said he would like authorities to grant amnesty to imprisoned MRTA guerrillas." Yahoo News / AP MRTA has not been a player since the late 1990s, and probably most of its remaining activists, mainly in the coca-growing areas of the Amazon, have been absorbed by Sendero and local drug lords.

Toledo finds searching for an intelligence chief as hard as finding guerrillas

Peru's latest spy chief faces tough rebuilding job: "But security analysts say they are worried because he is the seventh man to head the intelligence service since 2001 and the fifth named by Toledo. Mora is also the third top spy to be given the task of overhauling the intelligence service since it was gutted three years ago in the corruption scandal that brought down former President Alberto Fujimori." Miami Herald When you are following in the footsteps of Vladimiro Montesinos, it's hard to get things right.

Sunday, September 21

Accusations against Peruvian natural resource institute

Mahogany, Peru & Poverty: NRDC’s Eco-Lies Continue: "NRDC this is not some modest, little group of Green holy rollers. It is an organization that, in 1998, had assets of $55,071,547. Unlike Newman Lumber, it’s tax exempt. If you like ironies, the NRDC was founded in 1970 with money generated by the auto industry, a $400,000 grant from the Ford Foundation. It is perhaps best known for being the source of an enormous and costly apple industry hoax about Alar. The NRDC has designated the Peruvian rainforest a 'BioGem' and with the help of 'BioGem Defenders,' it floods companies like Newman with thousands of emails protesting their trade in mahogany. " This opinion piece comes from the right and aims against the tree-huggers out to save the Amazon. But it also says that there are hidden interests behind the revoking of a logging contract.

Berenson's fiancé was a MRTA militant

Jailed Berenson no monster, fiance says: "Anibal Apari, who served 12-1/2 years of a 15-year sentence as a member of the Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement, or MRTA, before being paroled in June, met Berenson in 1997 when they were both jailed in the Yanamayo prison high in the Andes." Reuters AlertNet Also see the AP story, Imprisoned Lori Berenson's fiancee a Peruvian ex-con, in Newsday.

Thursday, September 18

Peru fires intelligence chief after media scandal

Peru fires intelligence chief after media scandal: "The reshuffle came three days after ''The Indiscreet Window,'' a show on the private Frecuencia Latina TV network investigating allegations of corruption in the government and the CNI, published secret papers detailing surveillance of reporters. Panizo admitted the report existed, but said it was unofficial and the aim was not to follow reporters but to use them to find out who was leaking government information." MSNBC / Reuters

Lori Berenson wants to wed a Peruvian while still in prison

Lori Berenson, imprisoned in Peru, wants to wed: "Her mother, Rhoda Berenson, told Reuters no date had been set, and declined to discuss details. She said her daughter was optimistic she would be able to wed. Berenson is being held in a high-security prison in the northern city of Cajamarca." Reuters AlertNet

Saturday, September 13

Colombians linking up with Sendero?

Shining Path back as Farc exports terror: "The Peruvian defence ministry declined interview requests to discuss the resurgence of the Shining Path or contacts with Farc. But a senior army officer agreed to meet on condition of complete anonymity. 'I believe these allegations of Farc involvement in Peru. I have seen enough evidence to support this,' he said. 'But the security forces have their heads buried in the sand, and there is not the political will to face the new insurgent threat.'" Telegraph (UK) If the Colombian FARC is funneling money into Peru, that spells trouble.

Friday, September 12

Peruvians Love or Hate Fujimori

Peruvians Divided Over Prosecuting Fujimori: "A survey of Lima residents published Aug. 31 by the daily newspaper El Comercio showed that 26 percent of respondents would vote for Fujimori if elections were held today. Almost 13 percent picked Fujimori as their favorite politician, far exceeding the 3.6 percent who chose President Alejandro Toledo, but less than the percentage who selected several other politicians. At the same time, 68 percent of those surveyed said they believed Fujimori was responsible for the La Cantuta and Barrios Altos killings. Adding to his difficulties, a previously unseen videotape was released last week showing Fujimori stuffing envelopes with cash while in office. Fujimori faces more than 50 criminal charges, many of them relating to corruption. " Washington Post

Novelist Vargas Llosa teaches this semester in Washington, DC

Vargos Llosa To Teach: "Peruvian author Mario Vargas Llosa has returned to Georgetown this semester as a Distinguished Writer in Residence. Vargas Llosa, who first taught at Georgetown in 1994 as a visiting professor, currently holds the Ibero-American and Culture Chair in the Spanish and Portuguese Department, a $2 million endowment established in April 2001." Georgetown Hoya Vargas Llosa has a long-standing relationship with Georgetown University and has a penchant for teaching. Anyone who has attended one of his lectures knows that the GU students are looking into a privileged window into the writer's engaging world.

Thursday, September 11

Images stir strong feelings in the wake of Peru's 15 years of war

Blame and Shame on Display in Peru: "By assigning blame for the war, the commission exacerbated Peru's social divisions and revived debate about the economic elite's responsibility in a country where most people live on less than $2 a day. Over time, however, the commissioners hope the outrage and defensiveness will give way to healing. Almost 70 percent of Peru's 28 million people live in cities, but only 20 percent of the war's victims were urban. Almost all of the others were indigenous Peruvians, subsistence farmers from the highlands and jungles." Washington Post

Peru is in a hurry to get the trans-Andean pipeline running

Peru Pipeline Project Given Financing Nod "Roberto Dañino, Peru's ambassador to the United States, said at a news conference that the vote means likely completion of the gas project by next year. He said the financing also opens the door for the expected final phase, Hunt Oil's proposed construction of a $1 billion to $2 billion plant to liquefy natural gas for export to the United States. The Kellogg Brown & Root unit of Halliburton Co. is in line to build it. " Washington Post The U.S. government is going to provide an addition $2 million for continued environmental impact studies.

Toledo government gets its wish -- IADB finances Camisea

Peru's Amazon gas project approved: "In announcing its decision, the Washington-based lender said Camisea was one of the most significant capital investment programmes in Peru's history." BBC Interesting that the U.S. Import-Export Bank and the U.S. government have higher environmental standards than the Inter-American Development Bank.

Development Bank Agrees to Finance Gas Project in Peru: "The American representative, Jose Fourquet, abstained largely because of trepidation over the adequacy of an environmental evaluation of the project, people familiar with the vote said. On Aug. 28, the Export-Import Bank, a United States government credit agency that had also raised concerns, rejected a $214 million loan." NY Times

Bank approves money for gas project in Peru Houston Chronicle / Reuters ::: Background information from Forbes

Tuesday, September 9

More focus on gas pipleline's environmental impact

Energy Project vs. Environmentalists in Peru: "Project officials and government officials admit errors in the development, but say that standards were improved as environmentalists and consulting firms hired by the multinational lenders raised concerns. Alejandro Segret, general manager of TGP in Peru, noted that the pipeline construction, which his company is leading, will be underground, to be covered by jungle." NY Times

Monday, September 8

Gas pipeline starts in one ecological reserve and ends in another

Peru Gas Project an Environmental Concern: "In December 2000, Peru signed a deal with a hodgepodge of smaller operators, including Argentine companies Pluspetrol and Techint, Texas-based Hunt Oil, Korea's SK Corp. and Algeria's state-controlled Sonatrach. Activists say that the smaller companies lack the experience and resources to handle the environmental and social challenges inherent to operating in the Amazon jungle." Newsday / AP It could ask for a project that would impact on more sensitive environmental hotspots than Camisea. Virgin Amazon rainforests, a Pacific Ocean wildlife reserve that is a jewel of the world, the delicately balanced slopes of the Andes, plus a lot more than I can mention here.

Peruvian army generals are indignant at accusation of human rights abuses

Ex-Generals and Others Protest Peru Report on Rebel Conflict: "The report, which determined that more than twice as many people died in Peru's war as previously believed, has so far not provided the desired consensus allowing the nation to move forward in its campaign to reinvigorate its young democracy. Indeed, the charges in the report ? outlined in thousands of pages recounting massacres and disappearances ? have prompted a limited but fierce backlash. That is something that worries government reformers and human rights workers, who say acceptance of the commission's work is essential for Peruvians to reconcile." NY Times General Clemente Noel says that he never ordered abuses, but I've heard officer point to him as the way not to carry out a counterinsurgency campaign.

Thursday, September 4

Star power shines on the Peruvian Amazon

Celebrities: Bush, don't fund Peru rainforest ruin: "The letter, signed by Susan Sarandon, Chevy Chase, Ruben Blades, Kevin Bacon, Jessica Lange and rock star Sting, among others, turns up the heat on the Camisea gas project ahead of a key vote on a $75 million loan next week by the Inter-American Development Bank at which the U.S. position will be crucial." Reuters AlertNet This deal is getting bigger and bigger each day as Hollywood gets into the act. I hope they remember tha country when the dispute is over. / AFP Hollywood Celebrities Lobby Against Peruvian Energy Project

Peru responds: Peru defends Amazon gas plans BBC.

Learning lessons have impact on Peurvian communities

UMass Lowell engineering majors hook up Peru village with clean, potable water: "Duffy takes mechanical engineering students, graduates and working professionals into the jungles and deserts of Peru, into the communities of the poorest individuals, to improve their quality of life. Students raise funds to pay their way, supplemented by the university. Once there, they use technology to convert solar energy and moving water into electricity in communities with little running water and no domestic source of electricity." Lowell Sun You can always find interesting stories like this applied technology all over Peru.

Statistical model corrects undercounting of fallen during 2 decades of political violence

Statistical model leaves Peru counting the cost of civil war: "Ball and his colleagues applied a statistical method developed in the late nineteenth century to count wild animals. It has since been used to adjust census estimates of hard-to-count groups such as the homeless. Multiple-systems estimation (MSE) relies on the existence of overlapping partial counts of a population. The principle is that the chance of an individual appearing on two lists is equal to the product of their chances of appearing on each list separately. Ball's team compared seven lists of dead and missing people compiled since 1980." Nature When the death toll for political violence in Peru was raised to 69,000, from 35,000, I asked what methodology was used to make the adjustment. Well, this article provides the explanation.

Wednesday, September 3

Road to join Brazil and Peru could escalate ecological damage

Road Integration Puts Amazon on Alert: "'The roads will accelerate the unmitigated deforestation that is already occurring in both countries. It will facilitate the expansion of illegal trade in mahogany, rare seeds, wild animals, orchids, etcetera, which last year reached 500 million dollars, surpassing drug trafficking, which was just over 300 million dollars,' he told Tierramérica." Inter Press Service (IPS) Brazil itself has not set a good example for its own exploitation of the natural resources in the Amazon Basin.

Tuesday, September 2

Environmentalist still offer hope for carrying out natural gas project

"No" Vote Could Offer New Life to Camisea Project: "First on WWF's list of needed changes is relocation of the pipeline terminal and proposed liquid gas fractionation plant well away from the sensitive Paracas National Reserve. The marine reserve is acknowledged to be one of the most biologically important areas on the South American coast. A spill or other mishap there could have devastating consequences for the reserve and dependent fishing and tourist industries." World Wildlife Fund / U.S. Newswire

Peruvian government lowers growth targets for neext year

Peru cuts 2004 growth forecast over world economy: "He said the new projection, contained in a document published over the weekend detailing revised macroeconomic forecasts through 2006, was 'more realistic and consistent,' in line with forecasts being made by analysts who follow the Peruvian economy." Forbes / Reuters Peru's economy has been so anemic in the previous five years that it probably is not strong enough to support high growth rates. Plus there are serious issues about how investors will fall in line with government policy and economic trends.

Ayacucho was the locus of worst fighting and dying

Truth commission tries to heal Peru: "The region also bore the brunt of fighting between guerrillas and the government security forces sent to stamp them out. According to the truth commission's report, Ayacucho accounted for 40 percent of those killed." Billing Gazette / AP

Editorial reaction to the Truth Commission report

Peruvian press review: "The report, compiled from 16,686 testimonials from terrorist, military and civilian sources, also found that three quarters of the dead were Peruvian Indians. " Guardian UK The paper reveiws the editorial contents of five Peruvian newspapers: El Comercio, La Republica, Expreso, Peru 21 and La Industria (Trujillo). See my Peruvian news page for links to these web sites.

Monday, September 1

Report of political violence won't end the debate about responsibilities

A Cry for Justice Echoes in Peru: "More than 24 countries have created official truth commissions over the past two decades in hopes of explaining political strife -- panels described by Salomon Lerner, the president of Peru's commission, as 'not judicial bodies, but moral ones.' Many of them, like those in Guatemala, El Salvador and South Africa, have helped their societies understand their darkest moments, and take tentative steps to move on. " Washington Post This article puts Peru's Truth Commission Report in the context of broader international trends, both in Latin America and elsewhere. It's points to the probability that the report will not close the issue; it's more likely a beginning of looking at some of the darker sides of national reality.

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