Sunday, March 28, 2004

"Less Debt": Reuters reviews Pedro-Pablo Kuczynski's interview with RPP radio where he indicated that that "Peru expects to cut its debt servicing charges by $300 million a year" through debt re-structuring. "Servicing Peru's $22.768 billion foreign debt -- which represents 37.3 percent of gross domestic product -- will cost $2.4 billion in interest alone this year."

IADB in Lima, cont: Reuters covers the gamut on stories as 6,000 officials and bankers from 46 countries arrive in Lima on the eve of the IADB meetings. There are some gloomy pieces like this one which offers skeptical views of the Latin American economy by Agustin Carstens, the International Monetary Fund's deputy managing director, ("A rise in U.S. interest rates and weak banking supervision could undermine Latin America's fledgling economic recovery.") and Guillermo Calvo, chief economist for IADB, ("The biggest risk that we see for Latin America in the future is a possible raise in interest rates in the United States.") There are also some sunnier pieces like this one which uses the Institute of International Finance's press conference to report that, "[a] global recovery will pull Latin America out of a prolonged economic slump this year." This interview with Guillermo Perry, the World Bank's chief economist for Latin America who says: "Latin America is set to post solid growth in the next few years, but the region must get its act together to reduce its vulnerability to the next global slowdown or financial crisis." A piece on the Andean Development Corporation, or CAF, which "expects to issue around $1 billion in debt this year, spread between the United States, European, Japanese and Latin American markets." A separate piece reviews the IADB's policies on the $38 billion in remittances Latin America and Caribbean workers sent to their families back home in 2003. La Republica has a section dedicated to the Banks' events.

Camisea Controversy: International events like the IADB meetings are also opportunities for others to get press attention and Amazon Watch does just that with a press release focusing on the IADB's September 2003 $75 million loan for the controversial Camisea gas project which, according to Amazon Watch, "is paving the way for the destruction of some of the world's most pristine rainforests and threatening the lives isolated indigenous peoples. Indigenous leaders are also concerned that the project consortia are attempting to divide and weaken local indigenous organizations and manipulate local and national authorities to serve their own interests." Reuters says they have received the leaked IADB documents as well as a Health Ministry study that said:"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." Energy and Mines Minister Jaime Quijandria had the official government reponse: "No one has been able to prove the source of any deaths. This rumor about epidemics is repeated every few years." The Miami Herald (last item) has IADB president Enrique Iglesias defending the loan. The BBC adds that "Peru had hoped the loan would be signed at the annual Inter-American Development Bank meeting it is hosting in Lima. It hopes the Camisea Project will add 1% a year to Peru's economic growth. " See also an Amazon Watch press release from March 16 that suggests they may be getting the upper hand in this debate.

FZevallos' 3rd Trial: The Associated Press runs a large piece on Fernando Zevallos, AeroContinente's founder, and his "third drug-related trial." Reporter Rick Vecchio says that "U.S. law enforcement documents ... allege Fernando Zevallos has used bribes, threats and intimidation to scare off witnesses and manipulate Peru's justice system during his rise to the highest levels of the nation's business community." Key to this new round is Jorge Lopez, the head of the Peruvian drug gang "Los Nortenos." "Lopez was convicted for Peru's largest drug bust of the past decade -- the 1995 seizure of 3.3-tons of cocaine destined for Guadalajara, Mexico." The piece is full of detail including the suggestion of how AeroContinente purchased its first Boeing jet in 1992; that the San Martin-born Zevallos "became a pilot in the mid-1970s as a cadet in Peru's air force. In 1980, he founded a charter plane company, Tausa, with a single Cessna." Today, AeroContinente runs "40 flights a day with its 23 aircraft, Aero Continente had $140 million in sales in 2003 and controls about 60 percent of Peru's aviation market," according to the company. Earlier: See 'Lots of Coke' in February 13's Peruvia.

Boston Says NO to Pollo a la Brasa: The Boston Globe says that local restaurant Cabrera's Restaurant wants to sell 'pollos a la braza,' Peruvian-style charcoal-cooked chicken," but the city won't give them the permit to use the appropirate stove. Meanwhile, the Cabrera family said the stove "cost $4,000 to ship from Peru and about $6,000 to install safely in the restaurant's kitchen." They have met "several times with Mayor James J. Fiorentini." What may portend as a great danger to Peruvians in the USA: "The Cabreras have given Osborne and the mayor a list of restaurants and states that use the Peruvian stove. Osborne said he contacted multiple restaurants to find out how the appliance was certified in other locations, but that he has not been able to find a restaurant that admits to using the charcoal cooker."

Vampire Bats Near Trujillo: Several South African news sources and The Australian claim that "at least 20 people were attacked and bitten by vampire bats as they returned home from work in the jungle community of Mansiche." The piece quotes one Luis Suarez, the head of the Ministry of Health's Office of Epidemiology.

- Reuters gets several photos preparing for their World Cup qualifying match against Colombia on March 31.
- Reuters says that Copa America hosts Peru have defused a row over hotel accommodation, which had prompted Ecuador to threaten a boycott of the competition. Peruvian Football Federation president Manuel Burga said that "Argentina had agreed to share their hotel with the Ecuadoreans, who claimed their reservations had been cancelled in favour of the twice world champions."
- The Washington Post profiles high schooler Mario Bazan who "balances soccer and school" in Virginia.

Whose Passion, cont: Hollywood's Variety says that Mel Gibson's "Passion of the Christ" is "hot in Latin America" and in Peru, 'Passion' is second only to Spider Man at the box office. (See 'Whose Passion' in yesterday's Peruvia.)

Macro/Micro Econ:
- BNAmericas reports that bids for the Bayóvar phosphates project in Piura are now being accepted, accrording to ProInversión.
- the Agre Report states that "Peru expects this year's cane sugar output to drop 7% on account of severe drought at the beginning of the year."

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