Friday, April 16, 2004

War of the Pacific: The BBC, Bloomberg, BNAmericas, Reuters and the Wall Street Journal all follow recent signals that Bolivia will export its gas to the Pacific through Peru. Reuters reports Peru "was delighted the Bolivian government had signaled it wanted to export natural gas via Peru instead of Chile," though the article was more sober as to whether that will actually happen. Xavier Nogales Iturri, Bolivia's new Mining and Hydrocarbons minister "gave Peru the thumbs up" when he declared: "Bolivia cannot export its gas via Chile. We have to go through a Peruvian port." BNAmericas says it was Bolivian President Carlos Mesa who telephoned Alejandro Toledo to talk about these developemnts; Reuters says it was Toledo who called Mesa.

Good News: Reuters offers an optimistic take on the economy: "Awash in a tide of export earnings from commodities, Peru launched a plan to strengthen its export sector and turn the Andean nation into a trade axis for South America." Peru will export up to US$10 billion this year, up from $8.9 billion in 2003. Mining makes up about half of Peru's total exports, followed by fishing and textiles. But exports are only 16 % of Peru's GDP, compared with 35% in Chile.
- Reuters reports that gold prices to rise to US$450/oz, "their highest since January 1988."
- BNAmericas reports that Peru's economy grew by 4.09% in March, led by mining which expanded 19.3%.
- Dow Jones reports that "the sol strengthened Thursday on renewed interest in the national currency."

Paracas in Brooklyn: The New York Times and the Wall Street Journal feature "Threads of Time: Woven Histories of the Andes," on display at the Brooklyn Museum of Art's Hall of the Americas, which has recently undergone "a complete makeover and re-opens tomorrow. The display highlights one of the most important collections of its kind outside South America." It includes the renowned Paracas Textile.

Art Can Be Endangered Species: The Washington Post reports that the international museum community is using "a new weapon in the fight against the theft and trafficking of antiquities from Latin America." The article is pegged on the USA release of the "Red List of Latin-American Cultural Objects at Risk" which suggests that many of these antiquities "can be considered the art world's endangered species."

JJameson's Peruvian Art: The New York Times says that Jenna Jameson has 'The Birth of Mary,' an 18th-century Cuzqueño work, decorating her home wall.

AToledo Visits Colombia: The Associated Press is reporting that "37 pounds of cocaine and 22 pounds of heroin" were discovered "in the engine room of the Gloria, Colombia's flagship naval vessel" that visiting President Alejandro Toledo was to tour. Toledo "was scheduled to go aboard the Gloria in Cartagena on Saturday to dine with military commanders and discuss increased cooperation in the fight against drugs." The Peruvian president is making his first presidential visit to Colombia. The Associated Press also offers p-h-o-t-o-s of AToledo with Colombian President Alvaro Uribe.

MVLl Visits Panama: The Medical Journal reports on Mario Vargas Llosa "visiting projects of the UN refugee agency for Colombian refugees in Panama's Darien region." Family Connection: Son Gonzalo VLl is the UNHCR's Representative in Panama.

AFF Charged with Murder: The Associated Press runs a story about Congress charging (56-5 with four abstentions) Alberto Fujimori with the murder of labor leader Pedro Huilca. The print versions of the Miami Herald and the Washington Post run edited versions of the story.

AFF Associates' Jail Terms: Dow Jones reports that Peru's Attorney General is seeking a prison sentence for Fujimori's former Finance Minister Jorge Baca Campodónico. A separate Dow Jones report states Fujimori's former Finance Minister Carlos Boloña Behr is expected to receive a suspended sentence.

Two Films in Miami: Today is the kickoff of the Miami Latin Film Festival which includes two Peruvian films:
1. Miguel Barreda Delgado's feature film, And If I Saw You, I Don't Remember (Y Si te Vi, No Me Acuerdo - though the movie was originally called, Panamericana.) Synopsis: "A Peruvian returns to his country after having spent many years in Europe. His father has just passed away, and he tries to collect his inheritance and to start a new life in Peru. A woman suddenly escapes south from her stepparents' house in Lima because life there is unbearable for her. Their lives cross on the Panamerican highway." See Also: See a clip and stills of the film or hear several parts of the soundtrack.)
2. Ernesto Cabellos's documentary Choropampa, The Price of Gold (El Precio del Oro). Synopsis: (from a recent review in Variety): "This is a documentary about the aftermath of a June 2000 spill of toxic mercury in the Peruvian gold-mining town of Choropampa -- to ask larger questions about corporate and government responsibility in Third World regions rich in natural resources but poor in material wealth." See Also: this background material. Archive: See the Yanacocha Mine's November 2002 'Final Report on the Risk Assessment of the Mercury Spill in Northern Peru'; and Oxfam's information on Choropampa.

TransOceanic Highway: BNAmericas publishes a skeptical editorial on Brazilian President Lula's design on creating a "4,269km transoceanic highway-rail corridor."

Others Are Challenged, cont: The Associated Press offers photos of the protestors in front of the Labor Ministry, including one of "Peruvian police remov[ing] a rock from a street after a march in front the Labor Ministry. Unemployed workers want the government of President Alejandro Toledo to improve labor laws and come through with promised jobs."

Macro/Micro Econ:
- BNAmericas reports that "work at the Callao port is returning to normal following the Easter break during which a strike was halted." (See 'Strike Two, cont' in April 9 below.)
- Dow Jones reports that the Toledo cabinet said it will "present a bill to Congress aimed at closing access to a costly indexed government pension plan [Law 20530] or the cedula viva." "About 295,000 pensioners receive a fully indexed pension and those payments are heavily subsidized from central government current spending."
- Dow Jones reports that Pedro-Pablo Kucynski believes the IDB funding for Camisea is "imminent."
- Dow Jones and Reuters report that "Peru has approved the environmental impact statement for Barrick Gold Corp.'s Alto Chicama mine project, according to Energy and Mines Minister Jaime Quijandria who told the foreign press, "The public audiences have been completed and the environmental impact statement has been approved." (See also yesterday's news that Doe Run "will not receive extra time" to meet a government-mandated environmental plan to combat pollution.)

Falsely Charged: The Associated Press offers photos (but no story?) of Spanish journalist Isabel Gomez who "was released from a Lima women's prison on Tuesday after being held for nine days because she had the same name as a wanted drug trafficker."

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