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Sunday, February 29

Explicit depiction of sexual practices in Moche culture open eyes

Once taboo, erotic ceramics a link to ancient Peru: "The Moche ceramics have opened the door to a wide field of study of sexual values in pre-Columbian Peru. Their study also casts a historical spotlight on centuries of repression by Spanish colonial bureaucrats and Inquisition-era priests bent on extirpating demonic influence from the hearts, minds and loins of the native populace." Miami Herald / AP The opening story line of students only recently being given access to the erotic ceramics only recently is false. The best examples of this type of work from the Moche culture were concentrated in the Larco Herrera Museum, which is off the beaten track in Lima. But I can remember seeing them when I was studying in Peru in 1972, and I went back later on with friends. The reporter did not consult any of Peru's archeaologists or anthropologists to put the pottery in historical and cultural perspective.

Tuesday, February 24

Fujimori bides his time for 2006

An Ex-President of Peru Plots His Return: "Wielding what he calls this 'powerful instrument' over the last year, Mr. Fujimori, former president of Peru, has parried an Interpol arrest request, started a political movement in Peru, maintained his 'From Tokyo' Web site, and transmitted programs for his new hourlong weekly radio show, which is broadcast on 60 stations in Peru." NY Times Once more, Fujimori says he's going to return to Peru to run for the presidency in 2006, and in Peru he's even starting to look good, in comparison to Toledo's hapless presence in the House of Pizarro.

Sunday, February 22

Peruvian government now says FARC moving into coca-growing

Peru Says FARC Growing Coca in Peru: "[Defense Minister Roberto] Chiabra said the coca crops in the northern Putumayo border area were new. 'There weren't these types of crops in the area before and it's strange because it's not a (coca) producing area. That's what caught our attention,' he said." Reuters There've been a lot of unofficial reports of an increased presence of the Colombian guerrillas, but now the government is confirming it, and pinpointing the area where FARC is operating.

Peru to query Japan about Fujimori extradition proceedings

Fujimori extradition discussed in Tokyo: "Peru's delegation, led by Undersecretary for Asian Affairs Martha Chavarri, aims to clarify any technical or legal questions Japan may have about the 700-page extradition request, a Peruvian Embassy official said on condition of anonymity. The meetings, scheduled to end Friday, are the first chance for Peruvian lawyers, prosecutors and investigators to discuss the matter with experts from Japan's foreign and justice ministries, said the official, who called the first session 'informative.'" Miami Herald / AP Fujimori is protected by Japanese citizenship from extradiction, but he still claims he can run for the presidency in 2006. He certainly has balls.

Tuesday, February 17

More mining discontent

Peru's Mines Dig Deep at Local Discontent: "The debate over mining here mirrors a broader one taking place across Peru. There are mounting questions about an economic policy that has produced impressive growth figures but few jobs, especially for the majority of Peruvians, who live in poverty. Rising populist sentiment from Venezuela to Bolivia has stirred deep social unrest over how to harness the Andes' natural wealth, much of it in foreign hands, on behalf of the poor. Now the Newmont Mining Corp., the Denver company that holds controlling interest in Yanacocha, wants to begin working a barren, 14,000-foot dome filled with more than $1 billion in gold. The expansion is generating sharp public opposition while challenging Peru's government to reconsider how best to balance its export-dependent economy with the interests of needy communities." Washington Post

More warnings about life support for the Toledo government

Peru's leader swears in 'last chance' Cabinet: "Political independents were also named to head the ministries of Justice, Education, Health, Work, Production and Transportation. Seven other ministers remained in their posts and Jaime Quijandria moved from the Ministry of Finance to Energy and Mines." Miami Herald / AP

Monday, February 16

List of new cabinet ministers

Here is the list of new cabinet-level appointments under Carlos Ferrero as Prime Minister:

Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, Economy and Finance
Baldo Kresalja, Justice
Javier Sota Nadal (former Rector, Universidad Nacional de Ingeniería), Education
Pilar Mazzetti, Health
Javier Neves Mujica, Labor
Alfonso Velásquez Tuesta, Production
José Ortiz, Transportation

The biggest surprise is PPK coming back. If he can focus on channeling government resources quickly and efficiently into creating jobs, he might be able to save the day for Toledo. PPK also tells international bankers that Toledo will not throw out sound economic policy in an effort to save his political neck.

Last chance for Toledo?

In Familiar Tactic, Peru's President Will Shake Up His Cabinet: "The idea has been to add a blast of "oxygen," as Peruvians put it, and restore confidence ? something that has never been more needed than now, with Mr. Toledo's popularity rating at just 7 percent in greater Lima in the wake of a string of nepotism and corruption scandals and personal gaffes. But political analysts and some former cabinet members say Mr. Toledo's new cabinet could well be his last. They say the revolving door has given Peruvians an impression of weakness and lack of direction, rather than the firm hand the president wants to convey." NY Times I keep getting a sensation of deja vu all over again.

New Cabinet swears in, and PPK back in finance post Jury still out on 'last chance' Peru government: "The new Cabinet -- whose centerpiece is the return of Wall Street darling Pedro Pablo Kuczynski as economy minister, a post he occupied in Toledo's first Cabinet from 2001 to 2002 -- will be sworn in at 1 p.m. EST (1800 GMT)." Forbes / Reuters PPK is not going to sway the masses to support Toledo.

Wednesday, February 11

Lead poisoning spoils waters of La Oroya

Toxic clouds hang over Peruvian town: "In La Oroya, the company found in a 2000-01 study that average lead levels in the blood of 1,198 residents tested were 2.5 times above World Health Organization limits. In 1999, Peru?s Health Ministry determined that 99 percent of the children in the area suffered from lead poisoning, with nearly 20 percent in need of urgent hospitalization. But no one was hospitalized. Lead poisoning can cause behavior disorders, slow growth, impaired learning, anemia and kidney damage. All ages are susceptible, but children tend to be hit harder because they play outside in contaminated dust and also are prone to putting things in their mouths." MSNBC / AP La Oroya was in bad shape even before Doe Run bought the place in 1997. It has until 2007 to clean up operations.

Friday, February 6

Colleague Guillermoprieto talks about reporting on serial killings of women in Mexico

Murder in Juárez: "I?ve rarely, in any of the stories I?ve written for the magazine, even mentioned the United States. And it?s certainly the first time that I have written about a U.S. citizen. I generally try to pretend that we Latin-Americans are an independent people, and that we make our own decisions, and that we live out the consequences of our own destiny, and that?s why I focus so intensely on Latin-American characters in my story. But of course that isn?t true. The United States is enormously important for Latin America and, specifically, Mexico." The New Yorker: Online Only Alma Guillermoprieto worked for Newsweek, and I got to work with her a lot. She influenced me in my approach to journalism. She encouraged me a lot in my own writing efforts beyond journalism. Since those days, she went on to The New Yorker, a MacArthur Genius Grant and many other honors. Alma can write real good. I don't think I've heard from her in 10 years, and ran across this interview tonight. I miss her.

Thursday, February 5

Toledo seems to have a negative learning curve in the presidency

Scandals Weaken Peru's Leader: "Although the economy has grown in all but one month since Toledo took office, few Peruvians have reported a rise in income. Much of the economic growth has come from increased exports in such sectors as mining, an industry largely controlled by foreign companies, with only a small share of the profits reaching Peruvians. That, among other issues, has made free trade difficult to sell to the public here and across the Andean region. Peru is scheduled to begin negotiations in March with the Bush administration, which has placed free trade at the top of its agenda for Latin America." Washington Post Peru has the strongest economy in Latin America, but still can't deliver on better living conditions for Peruvians. Toledo can't even get credit for the improved economic performance since policy has been put into a kind of lockbox and put away for fear of alienating the IMF, World Bank, and international investors.

Monday, February 2

A Toledo advisor caught on tape

Peru Leader Voices 'Disappointment' in Corruption Scandal: "A transcript of an audiotape that was described as a conversation between Mr. Almeyda and General Villanueva in December 2001, five months after Mr. Toledo took office, has been published in Peruvian newspapers. In it, Mr. Almeyda is represented as discussing 'putting pressure' on judges and seeing if they could be 'bought' to help General Villanueva." NY Times / Reuters Almeyda was part of Toledo's inner circle, and the latest scandal casts more doubt on the viability of a Toledo government. Toledo came into office with the mission of continuing with cleaning up government and instituting transparency in power, but it now appears to have been polluted by Montesinos/Fujimori mafia.

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