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Monday, March 29

My yoga instructor is going to Cusco

My yoga instructor, Andrea Franchini , at TranquilSpace in Washington, DC, is headed for Peru. In my class last week, I overheard her mention that she was returning for a month long stay in the Urubamba valley, outside Cusco. I then told her that I had lived there for years and pointed her towards this site. Hopefully, she will have time before she leaves. She had been in Peru a while back (I think late last year or early this year), and wanted to return for another stay. I've been taking classes from her for two months, and will miss her while she's away.

Controversial natural gas project has high environmental costs

Camisea killing tribes, harming Amazon-report: "Between May 2002 and May 2003, 22 indigenous people died after exposure to respiratory illnesses from gas pipeline workers and 30 percent of the 500-strong Nanti tribe has died since 1995, the Health Ministry said in a study released by U.S. lobby group Amazon Watch at the Inter-American Development Bank annual meeting in Lima. A separate Energy and Mines Ministry report carried out last September but never made public said the Argentinian-led Camisea consortium had failed to clear up diesel spills and waste dumps in the gas pipeline area." Forbes / Reuters The consortium behind the porject reportedly does not have the expertise or leverage needed to hold environment impact to a minimum.

Wednesday, March 24

Selling out -- small ads help underwrite this site

I have started displaying Google Adsense text ads. After eight years of having a website, I decided that I had to find some way of differing some of the costs. I like the Adsense ads because they are straight-forward and don't detract from the rest of the page (no monkeys bouncing around in a banner ad). I know that Google pays -- per click on an ad and no need to make a purchase. What I don't know is if visitors to this site will click on the ads. It may take a while to get past the $10 minimum payment.

The other option was putting out a tincup or PayPal and asking for donations.

In all honesty, I also wanted to get my fingers into this business because I need to advise clients (i.e. about how to deal with advertising on the Web. It's time consuming to educate yourself so I thought I would also use the knowledge I acquire.

Tuesday, March 23

Burgers for Peruvians -- beating out McDonalds and Burger King at their game

Gourmet burger chain in Peru sets expansion plan: "With $50,000 in capital, he and partner Miroslav Cermak kicked off Bembos in 1988 with one burger bar. So far, the company has financed its expansion with profits and some bank loans. Camino said he expects Bembos' niche abroad to be the same as in Peru -- its high-quality meat and a wide range of burgers, which the company is constantly changing. It has about 20 variations on its menu at any given time. 'We use Argentinian beef because we feel it is the best, but our fries are from the United States,' Camino said. 'Peru has so many types of potatoes that locally-produced fries were too complicated.'" Forbes / Reuters My friends at the International Potato Center must be cringing that a Peruvian fast food chain has to import U.S. potatoes for its French fries. Camino says that they will expand into the provinces soon and then Central America for its first presence abroad.

Bad intelligence or no intelligence at all?

Peru spy body scrapped: "The decision came after the head of the National Intelligence Council resigned just two days into his tenure. Ricardo Arbocco was the seventh man to head the scandal-hit agency since President Alejandro Toledo came to power in June 2001. Mr Arbocco stood down on Monday, after it emerged he was being investigated for alleged corruption." BBC Toledo again bumbles his political management. How can you designate a head of intelligence without making sure that he has no dirty laundry coming along with him?

Monday, March 22

New (big) toys for the Peruvian Navy

Peru purchases four frigates: "Peruvian analysts and media point out that the purchase of frigates is with the purpose of maintaining a “strategic balance” with neighbouring Chile that has acquired several high technology units as part of its fleet renewal process." MercoPress Defense spending has been sharply curtailed since Fujimori left power so it's not surprising that expenditures start to pick up. The Navy was never one of Fujimori's favorites either so they probably have been underfunded for some time.

Friday, March 19

Management of Amazon resources

The shaman, the lumberjack, and the hunter: Snapshots from the Amazon
: "A local shaman introduced us to its biological treasure. The Amazon is home to more than 40,000 plant species, with nearly three-fourths of those species found nowhere else on the globe. With machete in hand, the shaman carved a virgin path through the rain forest. We followed him as best as we could, though we were unable to master his adroit skill at jumping over tree roots while vines swung at our heads. Fortunately, the shaman would stop periodically, hold up a plant, and carefully explain its medicinal properties. Two of us were stung by a nasty wasp. We were hoping the shaman would have a remedy to take away the pain. Instead, he congratulated us on getting stung, for it would help mitigate the future contraction of arthritis! " SojoMail / Sojourner David Batstone, executive editor, travels to Peru's Amazon and sends home some of his experience. Actually this appears to have been an postscript from an article from the magazine. The trip was last summer.

Thursday, March 18

Traffickers use instant messaging and chatroom to set up deals

Internet makes drug traffickers hard to catch -DEA: "Messages in Internet chat rooms, where drug smugglers in Latin America can arrange cocaine deliveries in London or Berlin, are almost impossible to intercept and cellular phone text messages cannot be tracked by authorities, Mark Malcolm, intelligence analyst at the United States Drug Enforcement Administration, told an international drug conference in Lima." Forbes / Reuters It ain't no fun to be a cop when the crooks got all the tricks. See more news about the implications of IP communications for law enforcement at

Intelligence agency in more hot water

Fresh Scandal Costs Latest Peru Spy Chief His Job: "National Intelligence Council (CNI) head Daniel Mora resigned after the tabloid newspaper Correo reported that it had taped and filmed a senior agency official passing documents that purportedly incriminated Interior Minister Fernando Rospigliosi." Reuters This post must be jinxed by Montesinos's witchcraft.

Tuesday, March 16

Economy shows modest gains -- not what's needed

Peru's Economy Struggles To Maintain Strong Growth: "Banco Wiese Sudameris economist Pablo Nano said January's data confirmed a weaker trend for the economy. 'The economy is growing but it has been growing at a slower rate since August last year,' he said." Nasdaq / Dow Jones Peru can't blame outsourcing for lack of job growth.

Old technology applied in new ways makes impact

Phones are saving lives in rural Peru: "Since most of rural Peru lacks Internet connections, isolated health workers are often left to rely on paper medical reports that can take weeks to get back to Lima — giving epidemics a head start on the Health Ministry. But after Peru privatized its telephone system in the early 1990s, virtually every town now has at least one reliable public pay phone. That simple link helped Voxiva set up a computer system, known here as "Alerta," that lets doctors and nurses in Peruvian villages use public telephones to send medical reports and also ask questions and get answers using voice mail boxes." / AP

Wishful thinking for Peruvian government

Peru seeks 30 years for Fujimori: "Mr Fujimori is wanted in Peru on charges including murder, kidnapping and inflicting grievous wounds.
The prosecution's 86-page sentencing recommendation will be added to an extradition request that already runs to more than 700 pages.
In Feburary the Japanese foreign ministry appeared to rule out extradition. " BBC News

Friday, March 12

Husband to see Berenson for first time since 1998

Imprisoned New Yorker Lori Berenson allowed to meet with husband: "'They gave me permission in late October to visit her two times a month,' Anibal Apari told The Associated Press on Thursday by cell phone from the Andean city of Cajamarca, 350 miles north of Lima, where Berenson is being held." Newsday / AP Apparently Apri has been seeing Lori since November last year, making trips from Lima. Also see this CNN version, which is more complte.

500 year old cementary for Inca textile weavers found outside Lima

Dozens of Inca Mummies Discovered Buried in Peru: "By contrast, the new site sits on a hill that has long been marked for a road that will feed traffic onto a new highway ringing Lima. As a result, the Tupac Amaru community could not build on the area, so humans have scarcely impacted the newfound ancient Inca cemetery. " National Geographic News

Monday, March 8

More pre-Columbian mummies found in outskirts of Lima

Dozens of Inca mummies found near Lima: "The mummies were once farmers and craftsmen and lived under the dominion of the Lati and Ishma Inca leaders, who ruled over the Rimac River valley, home to modern-day Lima, Cock said. 'These are local inhabitants, what we could now call middle class, belonging to the period of the Inca Empire, between 1472 and 1532,' Cock said. He said they were textile makers: 'Ninety-nine percent of the tools in the tombs are used for such production, from dressmaking to cloth dying. There are needles and looms." / Reuters With all the mummies being found in unique conditions in the past few years, archeologists and anthropologists could spend the rest of their lives investigating them. Of course, there's never been a shortage of mummies. Most coastal valleys have cementaries that are constantly sacked by huaqueros for artifacts that could be sold on the black market.

Wedding bells for Keiko Fujimori

Ex-President Fujimori's daughter to marry in Peru: "The newspaper Correo identified the prospective groom as U.S. citizen Mark Villenueve and said the wedding was set for July 3. The family source could not confirm the details." CNN / Reuters Keiko served as Fujimori's first lady after he began divorce proceedings against his wife, Susan Higuchi.

30 years ago, I got off a plane in Lima

It suddenly occurred to me that an important anniversary had slipped by -- my arrival for my first residence in Peru, from 1974 to 1990. The date was February 22 -- Victor Raul Haya de la Torre's birthday and a major festivity for the APRA party. I had been there as a student, twice, in January 1971 and then again in September 1971 to January 1972.

A swell of bittersweet nostalgia just swept up my spine as I remembered those intoxicating days. The images, impressions and their repercussions are still strong in my mind, though I have not had much of a chance to refresh my memories since leaving Peru following my second residence, November 1993-January 1996.

I mention this milestone at a moment when I feel my drive to add to this weblog and website flagging -- it's been eight years since I left Peru and at times I feel that my ability to comment intelligently about Peruvian culture and current affairs is flawed. From a distance, it's frequently hard to know what has changed about Peru and what remains the same. When I was a correspondent, I used feel that after being out of the country for a few weeks the political scene seemed like a puzzle with missing pieces. I guess I'm feeling old.

For the past two years, I've been posting most just news items when I could because my free time was scarce because I was in graduate school and holding down a full-time job. I'm now also working on another weblog/website -- BackdoorTech -- that's where all my techie stuff has gone. I am being pulled in other directions, as well.

This site is going to stay focused on Peru, repurposing some content from years ago, resurrecting memories and trying to keep track of what's happening in Peru. In a sense, I'm still working at coming to terms with my 18 years in Peru and what he means for and to me now. I may also looking into including Google Adsense text ads because I need to generate some cash to pay for the web hosting.

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