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Monday, June 25

Give Cameron Diaz a break Cameron Diaz says sorry for Mao bag

The voice of Princess Fiona in the animated ?Shrek? films visited the Incan city of Machu Picchu in Peru?s Andes on Friday carrying an olive green bag emblazoned with a red star and the words ?Serve the People? printed in Chinese, perhaps Chinese Communist leader Mao Zedong?s most famous political slogan.

The bags are marketed as fashion accessories in some world capitals, but in Peru the slogan evokes memories of the Maoist Shining Path insurgency that fought the government in the 1980s and early 1990s in a bloody conflict that left nearly 70,000 people dead.

How was Cameron Diaz supposed to know the meaning of the Chinese characters printed on her bag? Just because Mao said something does not make it wrong. John F. Kennedy said essentially the same thing. The dust got kicked up because she's a high-profile foreigner visiting the country and is under close scrutiny.


Wednesday, June 20

A shot that was heard through history

New York Times Earliest Gunshot Victim in New World Is Reported

Digging in an Inca cemetery in the suburbs of Lima, they came on well-preserved remains of an individual with holes less than an inch in diameter in the back and front of the skull. Forensic scientists in Connecticut said the position of the round holes and some minuscule iron particles showed that the person most likely was shot and killed by a Spanish musket ball.

Also see Washington Post Inca Skull Rewrites History of Conquest and the photo feature. NOVA/National Geographic will be airing a feature on June 26.

Thursday, June 7

Fujimori, come home!

Living in Peru Peru's Fujimori one step closer to extradition -- it's not the final verdict, but the first clue as to which direction the Chilean judicial system is leaning:

Chilean Supreme Court Prosecutor Monica Maldonado has officially recommended the extradition of Peru's former president, Alberto Fujimori, citing 10 different charges of corruption and human rights violations.

The charges stem from the Barrios Altos and La Cantuta massacres which Peruvian officials say were orchestrated by top Fujimori aids such as former spy chief Vladimiro Montesinos.


Sunday, June 3

Only mention the words Machu Picchu and it's news

New York Times: The Other Machu Picchu is a story about a place that is not Machu Picchu, called Choquequirao, but nearby in the Cusco region.

In Cuzco before the trip, Pedro Tacca, the director of patrimony for the National Cultural Institute, had spoken to me about the importance of preserving communities like Cachora and the other towns near Choquequirao as tourism to the site grows. He said Peru is trying to control growth and access to Cachora to keep it from becoming another Aguas Calientes, the town closest to Machu Picchu, which is made up entirely of tourist shops, restaurants and hostels, with a railroad track ? where the tourists arrive ? instead of a main street. ?It?s a community without personality,? he said, ?horrible in contrast to majestic and beautiful Machu Picchu.?

When I was in Peru, I really did not exploit the tourism angle enough. I felt that it was a well-trodden path that had already been covered a lot. Now I wish I had taken the opportunity. Of course, during much of my later years in Peru, it was not safe to travel outside the main cities.

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