Sunday, April 11, 2004

Mudslides in MPicchu: A pre-dawn landslide cut through Aguas Calientes into the Alcamayo River, burying the train track that carries tourists to Machu Picchu. Afternoon updates from the the Agence France Press, the Associated Press, the BBC, Bloomberg, Reuters, the United Press International, the Voice of America and Xinhua Net report that "between 300 and 400 tourists were stranded" and some were taken out to Cuzco by helicopter before the train service was started again. So far, there are 10 missing; one person has been confirmed dead. Says the AP: "President Alejendro Toledo was in the area when the mudslide hit, but wasn't injured. He was acting as a tour guide over the Easter holiday for U.S. cable station Discovery Travel Channel for an upcoming special on Peru." [See 'Toledo Televised' in Thursday's Peruvia below.] The AFP offers the most detail with tourists walking a mile to arrive at transportation, revealing that "around 200 meters of [rails] was hit by the first landslide," and that Toledo "lent his helicopter for the rescue effort." The print New York Times uses an early Reuters story with over 1000 people stranded. The print Los Angeles Times, Miami Herald and Washington Post use an updated AP story.

Tourists in MPicchu: There are several reports of tourists affected including those from Austrailia (ABC News) and Japan (Kyodo News). The BBC offers an electronic forum to respond to the question: "Have you been affected by the mudslides at Machu Picchu?" Among the wide variety of comments: "My Mother and brother are in the area at the moment, they have called and e-mailed to say that they are ok."

Photos from MPicchu: The Associated Press has an aerial view of the damage. Reuters has photos of tourists entering buses and helicopters, tourists inside helicopters, as well as Toledo at the scene offering comfort. There is also a photo of the President describing the disaster into his cell phone. Several shots show the physical damage and the injured.
ALSO: This morning's Sunday Observer's travel section has this query: "We are doing a round-the-southern-hemisphere trip early next year. We would like to end the trip with a visit to Machu Picchu."

How To Start A Park: The Chicago Tribune begins a special report on "Saving the Cordillera Azul," a fascinating two-part story on the personal and national politics behind the creation of the Parque Nacional Cordillera Azul Biabo in north-central Peru. Reported from Nuevo Eden, Loreto, the story relates how an isolated region of 5,225 square miles, that includes "spectacular 7,000-foot mountain peaks and fog-shrouded rain forest" and that is home to "monkey colonies, lethal vipers, exotic birds, poisonous frogs, and mega-cities of deadly ants" became one of the largest parks in the world. The story starts in Chicago at the MacArthur Foundation and the Field Museum. Peruvian-born anthropologist Avecita Chicchon was the MacArthur Foundation's program officer who introduced Peruvian herpetologist Lily O. Rodríguez, director of the Centro de Conservación, Investigación y Manejo de Areas Naturales to Brazilian-born biologist Debra K. Moskovits, director of the Chicago Field Museum's environmental and conservation programs. Together, they became "the masterminds of the new park." Others cited: Minister of Agriculture Carlos Amat y Leon; Louisiana State University ornithologist John O'Neill; herpetologist and wilderness guide Guillermo Knell; and Field Museum artist Peggy Macnamara. Then-President Valentin Paniagua and then-Prime Minister Javier Perez de Cuellar's airplane rides over the prospective park are also noted. The article is accompanied by a photography gallery, graphics of new species found, and a map of the area.
Tomorrow: Occidental Petroleum's interest in the region.
NOTE: As with many news sites, you can use "Peruvia" as a user name and a password at the Chicago Tribune site. Or, you can read the text of the story here.

Have Some New Coke! The Associated Press profiles Kdrink iced tea and Vortex energy drink, "two new bottled beverages to hit Peruvian stores this year using a formula made from coca leaves, the base ingredient in cocaine. Each bottle of Kdrink contains a trace 0.6 milligrams of the outlawed stimulant." That amount "carries less kick than a cup of coffee." The story has plenty of comparisons to Coca-Cola and the likely export challenges the new products may face.

Lombardi's Eyes: California's Contra Costa Times notes that the San Francisco International Film Festival will be previewing 'What the Eye Doesn't See' (Ojos Que No Ven), Francisco J. Lombardi's latest feature film, "a gritty narrative feature from Peru that explores the insidious web of political corruption that entangles victims and perpetrators." The film will play at the Filmfest DC on April 30.

Americans Can't Fly Aerocontinente: Xinhua Net reports on the USA Embassy in Peru announcing their banning all travel by Americans on state business from using Aerocontinente, a "temporary" meaure, "adopted because of problems of trust and operative concerns."

Asparagus Wars: The Associated Press runs an article from the state of Washington on the state of the asparugus industry and repeats an oft stated line: "The Andean Trade Preference Act was intended to help countries such as Peru combat drug trafficking. The law was a boon to Peru's asparagus industry, but it devastated Washington growers. "

A Death, Re-Told: An Associated Press wire story in the United Arab Emirates' Khaleej Times updates the story of Guillermo Sobero, the Peruvian-American who was killed in the Philippines by the Al Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf group in 2001.

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