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Monday, December 29

Saving a rare bird on the northern coast of Peru

Rare bird could face extinction, again: "The guan live in the so-called dry forest, an ecosystem in northern Peru in which the trees are dry and leafless except during summer rains. There they are at risk from locals who hunt them for food and who raid the forest for timber. Angulo said he was seeking to involve local communities in the conservation effort -- perhaps by acting as guides or providing services to rich American and European tourists. A visitors' fee could also be levied to ensure that cash from vacationing bird watchers made its way to residents. Protecting the forests for the guan in that way would also have an 'umbrella effect' and safeguard other species, he said, adding some 40 bird species are native to the dry forest." CNN / Reuters The habitat of the guan is endangered because local residents graze goats and other livestock in the bushland.

Sunday, December 28

Cuscoperu.com for your tourism info

Anyone thinking to go to Cusco as tourists should check out Cuscoperu.com which has travel information about Cuzco and Machu Picchu. The site is in English, Spanish and French. I did notice a few spelling errors in English, but it has a lot of useful information. I especially liked the maps page.

In case anyone wonders, the correct spelling of the Andean city is not Cuzco, but Cusco. There is not zeta in Quechua. It was an attempt to make the native dialect more faimilar to Spanish speakers. And if we really wanted to be sticklers, it should be Qosqo.

The Camisea Natural Gas Project draws political flack.

Peru - A Gamble in the Jungle: This was a PBS Frontline feature piece. There are six parts in all. The show originally appeared in August this year, but I missed it.

Machu Picchu 's capacity to handle tourist is challenged

Row erupts over Peru's tourist treasure: "But the site is becoming a battle ground between the United Nations cultural agency, which wants visitor numbers more than halved, and the Peruvian authorities, which are desperate to keep precious income from tourism flowing in." BBC Most international tourists want to see the "Lost City of the Incas," but it was never conceived to handle the foot traffic. Its remoteness holds down volume, it's Peru's main selling point.

Finance minister sees solid growth in Peru's future

Forbes.com: Peru sees continued growth bringing down debt: "Despite increasing political turmoil in Toledo's government, Peru's GDP expanded 4.9 percent in 2002, led by the mining and fishing industries, after growing just 0.2 percent in 2001. The Andean nation's economy is expected to end this year with 4.1 percent growth, [Finance Minister Jaime] Quijandria said." Forbes/ Reuters Despite poor political management, the government has kept the economy plowing ahead. Four percent growth is probably all that Peru could handle, without the economy getting overheated. Steady growth, however, does not pull up the poor or address inequity.

Friday, December 26

Cienciano is a giant killer in football

SignOnSanDiego.com >South American Stunner: "And then you had Cienciano, which was founded in 1901 by a British P.E. teacher at a provincial high school. Which didn't become a pro club until 1973, returned to amateur status in '77, then went pro again in 1984. Which was 5-7-3 and in eighth place (out of 12 teams) when the players' strike forced the cancellation of the Peruvian season in mid-November. Which doesn't have a home stadium large enough to host the Copa Sudamericana final." San Diego Union-Tribune Peru has no more upbeat story than the football success of the little Cusco club that could -- it won the South America club competition, the first time for Peru. This in the middle of a year when most Peruvian clubs have not been able to pay their players.

Cienciano upsets River 1-0 in Copa final Sports Illustrated / AP Cienciano win Copa Sudamericana ESPN Soccernt / Reuters

Toledo loses more ministers to scandal

After Scandal, Peru Gets New Minister-Again: "Nidia Puelles, who was only named to the post on Monday, quit earlier on Friday after accusations of corruption from a fellow member of Toledo's Peru Posible party. She denies all charges but is being investigated by the state auditor." Reuters Sorry, this is an older piece. I am just catching up on the mess in Peru.

Peruvian coffee has been a bitter cup

Peru Counts Cost of 'Bad Coffee' Image: "Castillo said Peru, South America's No. 3 coffee producer, still suffers from a negative perception of its coffee production process because of mismanagement in the 1980s and early 1990s. A previous lack of good milling infrastructure on farms, a tendency by intermediaries to blend different coffees regardless of their taste, mixing good and bad beans and a failure to honor export shipment deadlines were mainly to blame, Castillo said." Reuters

Peru's latest tool in the war on drugs: land ownership | csmonitor.com

Peru's latest tool in the war on drugs: land ownership: "Authorities have also seized 7.4 tons of cocaine totaling $7.4 billion in US street value. Based on the amount of coca in the country, Peru could produce up to 150 tons of cocaine annually. It is second after Colombia both in acres planted with coca and in cocaine production." Christian Science Monitor Do the math -- the Peruvian authorities are stopping about 4% of the annual cocaine or coca paste production. There have been experiments and initiatives with land titling since at least the early 1990s, when Hernando de Soto was partnering with the Fujimori government. A leading problem has always been that the governments (U.S. and Peruvian, plus switches between administrations) never lives up to its long-term commitments.

Wednesday, December 24

Christmas spirit for an Andean orphanage

The Flying Doctors of America have set up an orpahage in the Cusco region. This worthy cause is actively seeking donations to supplement contributions from foundations and other donors. The plan is to build 10 homes in the Pueblo de los Ninos. It hopes to reach 120 kids. It's a beautiful setting. You can see pictures on the website.

The Flying Doctors of America have been active for more than 10 years and have a presence in Ecuador, Guatemala, Belize and India, as well as Peru. It takes doctors for tours in these country and provide medical care in conjunction with local institutions.

Monday, December 22

Transplant from Detroit to Peru for Xmas

Essence of yuletide found in Peru's Andes: "The four members of the Vasquez family live in a one-room adobe house made of straw and mud (no larger than one of the Lockett bedrooms in Detroit) and sleep on an earth floor with guinea pigs freely running around inside. They farm potatoes, draw their own water from a lake, bathe in the lake and burn the dung of cattle and goats to keep warm and cook. Essentially, the Locketts became members of the Vasquez family. That meant Walter struggled with plowing fields, tiring quickly in the thin air; Portia helped with cooking, including preparing goats for eating by squeezing fecal matter out of their intestines; and the boys helped herd goats and collected farm animal dung for the fire." The Lockett family participated in National Geographic Channelís Worlds Apart television series. Consult your local TV listings for day and time

Saturday, December 13

Merino bites the dust in political backstabbing

Peru's First Female PM Asked to Resign: "Seen by many as a welcome bulwark of decisive leadership in Toledo's fragile presidency, Merino has been the most popular member of his government since coming on board in June. Recent polls show her with approval ratings of 64 percent." NY Times / AP

Politicians Angry Over Firing of Peru's PM Merino: "Politicians spoke out against Toledo last week for failing to defend his prime minister, who is three times as popular as the president and who lifted Toledo's own low approval ratings since coming into office at the end of June." NY Times / Reuters

Toledo has managed to mess up his cabinet six months after Merino stepped in to rescue a government in disarray. He has booted out the most popular government leader in the country. Merino fell in the trap of slapping back at Lima's notorious rumor mill that sniped that she was a secret lesbian. This is typical of the bungling that has distinguished Toledo's term in office.

Travel pieces from the NY Times

If you are going to travel to Peru, check out the New York Times Travel Desk on Peru. It has all Travel pieces since 1996 (about 14 articles), slideshows, forums, and othe resources. This week end there is a piece on
Detouring to Peru's Past
. It deals with visiting the Chachapoyas archaeological ruins.

Friday, December 12

Prime Minister gets a plug from the Post

Peru's Premier Puts Her Perseverance to the Test: "Merino, who has served as a senator and member of Congress since 1990, returning intermittently to the private sector, a law practice, academia and Peru's tax agency, said in an interview that she also derived her strength from her Catholic faith and has built on the skills she acquired working for an American pharmaceutical company. She has the serene demeanor of a healer on a serious quest to lift the spirits of disillusioned Peruvians. This is only her sixth month in office, but her hard-earned reputation as a competent and diligent politician has helped lift the sagging approval ratings of Alejandro Toledo's presidency and improved her country's investment credit rating." Washington Post Beatriz Merino is in town and winning praise -- meanwhile, in Lima, she's having a rough time holding on to her office.

Thursday, December 11

The end for the Tambogrande gold mine project


Peru's Centromin ends Manhattan copper-gold option
: "Manhattan said in a statement the Peruvian mining agency had informed it that the company had failed to meet the requirements of the agreement, which would have seen Manhattan earn a 75-percent interest in the Tambogrande concessions. However, Manhattan said all terms were met, including proof that the company had a net asset value of $100 million and owned a 10,000 tonnes-per-day treatment plant." Reuters The long debate over whether to convert one of Peru's most productive agricultural valleys into an open-pit mine seems to have reached its conclusion. Opposition from the local residents and the environmental group, both in Peru and internationally, undercut the government's desire to get another money-making export project onstream.

Wednesday, December 10

A day of reconciliation

Peru remembers political victims: "President Toledo named 10 December as the day of reconciliation, saying he wanted to ensure Peruvians were never again brutalised by violence. He has pledged $820m to help those most affected by 20 years of fighting between government troops and left-wing rebels, like the Shining Path." BBC

More turmoil at the top of Toledo's government

'Make your mind up,' Peru's Econ minister tells PM: "Although Merino, one of Peru's most popular politicians, has never publicly threatened to resign, the government twice issued a denial she had quit at the end of November, while some allies say she harbors higher political aspirations. Merino, on an official visit to the United States and expected back by mid-December, is at odds with President Alejandro Toledo over who should be in the new Cabinet after a December reshuffle." MSNBC / Reuters

Saturday, December 6

An Andean nation in the making

In honor of the third anniversary of this site and weblog, I have added a longer article, An Andean nation in the making. I originally wrote it in 1990 for an upscale tourism guide with glossy color photos and many other contributions from authors who knew Peru intimately and lovingly. With this version, I am using TAFOS pictures and that gives the article a grittier finish. It's an attempt to look at some of the deeper issues that trouble the social fabric of the country. I am also am going to be editing and rewriting the piece because a lot of things have changed since I first penned it.

I am also going to a larger format with most of my TAFOS pictures because I don't think that anything under 250 px wide does not do justice to the picture. It will take me a while to get as all of them switched over. In some cases, I do not have a print copy, which will prevent me from going big.

Let me clarify that I've been on the web since 1996 -- although three years is a long time for a weblog, it's not for a website and this one has preserved. Before 2000, I did not have a domain name and it was hosted by my ISP.

Friday, December 5

Vice President admits coverup

I lied, I'm sorry, Peru vice president admits: " The 55-year-old businessman did not explicitly comment on allegations he signed a decree granting his girlfriend's father a tax waiver on a business he runs at Lima airport and got other members of her family jobs in government agencies. " MSNBC / Reuters Another Peruvian politicians confirms that widespread public opinion that politicians are out to exploit their positions for personal gain or to do favors for cronies.

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