Monday, May 10, 2004

Mayor Lynched, cont: Over the weekend, the Associated Press reports Ilave's Deputy Mayor Alberto Sandoval "as well as three municipal officials and three townspeople on suspicion of inciting the lynch mob." Meanwhile, "about 10,000 Aymaras have split into two groups -- supporters of the murdered mayor in the town itself and followers of Sandoval from surrounding villages." The piece suggests that the murdered mayor and his ostensible replacement were "both Aymaras and former university professors in Puno -- were political enemies belonging to rival communist factions." (Robles had run previously run on the FREPAP party slate.) The piece also reports on "a classified police report [that] warns that simmering social unrest near Lake Titicaca could explode as rival groups of Aymara Indians try to wrestle power from provincial mayors." 300 riot police are still "on a state of alert" in Puno. The piece also quotes El Comercio reporting that "constituents have accused mayors in seven towns and villages of corruption."

New Interior Minister: Reuters reports on the push back that new Interior Minister Javier Reategui received. (Reategui replaced FRospigliosi after the latter was censured by Congress for his actions surrounding of mob violence in Puno.) "Politicians and commentators condemned the appointment of Peru's new interior minister as the latest misstep by deeply unpopular President Alejandro Toledo." The article includes several headlines of Lima's news papers ("'Worse, impossible": Peru.21; "An Improvisation; Mediocrity": El Comercio). Quotes come from Congressman Jose Barba and Benedicto Jimenez, former head of Peru's anti-terrorist police, who stated: "He has little knowledge or experience in issues related to the interior ministry." Reuters has photographs of incoming Interior Minister Javier Reategui.

Gold Conference: The 6th International Gold Symposium ended over the weekend, most on high notes. Reuters reported that "mining exports rose to $1.51 billion in the first quarter, up 52.3 percent compared with the same period in 2003, spurred by higher demand and booming metals prices," according to the private National Society for Mining, Petroleum and Energy. Another Reuters piece gushes that "Peru is already universally considered one of the hottest mining prospects in the world, but the success of a new gold mine in the country's southern Andes is sparking a rush of interest in other sites there." It uses quotes from Antamina's Augusto Baertl who says, "Maybe 10, 12 years ago when Yanacocha was just opening up, we didn't realize all the potential of the north." Others cited: Donald McIver (Retamas), Bobby Godsell (AngloGold Ashanti) Chris Lodder (AngloGold Ashanti), Fausto Zavaleta (Minsur), Ramon Araneda (Barrick), and David Lowell (Barrick). HOWEVER, a separate Reuters piece dampens the celebratory mood with quotes from Alberto Benavides, president of Compania de Minas Buenaventura, "Peruvian mining's most respected elder statesman" who "slammed royalty charges that are under consideration here as a 'tragic' way to cut investment, reserves and ordinary people's pension savings. The royalties proposed will hurt miners but to a greater extent and more importantly, they will hurt ... people who have their savings in pension funds and the country, whose reserves will clumsily be undermined by such a senseless position." On May 12, the Peruvian Congress will consider a 3% levy (the Reuters pieces says "slap") on "production on mining operations and another from the government to charge miners up to 3 percent of sales as an early income tax payment." Benavides points out that "pension funds have 17.5 percent of their funds invested in mining stocks." BNAmericas also reports on "the sticky royalty issue" which "cast its long shadow" over the conference, "offsetting general optimism that positive metal prices would lead to increased investment and the promise of new discoveries." Citations come from Alberto Arias (Goldman Sachs) as well as Alberto Benavides' "tragedy" speech. Newmont's CEO Wayne Gurdy is quoted as stating, "We're proud that we pay large cash taxes in Peru on income, and we should. The current tax regime in Peru is competitive at an international level, it's not that it's giving us freebies but it's competitive compared to other tax regimes."

Gorby at Gold Conference: The Associated Press reported on former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev, the keynote speaker at the gold conference where he declared that "the United States and other western nations misinterpreted the end of the Cold War as a victory for capitalism. Now, the United States must listen to growing criticism that its economic policy is a one-way street that hasn't benefited 80 percent of the people." (The Moscow Times used this AP story.) Among his other comments: "The U.S.-led campaign to break down trade barriers in the past decade has been perceived as 'a one-way street' benefiting rich nations and international corporations." Also: "Free-trade economic policies set in Washington have led to 'uncontrolled globalization' that mainly benefits 'those who had the advantages in the first place.' " The Associated Press has photographs of Gorbachev talking at the conference (pictured with Minister of Economy and Mines Jaime Quijandria, National Energy and Mining Association President Jose Morales, consultant Felipe Ortiz de Zevallos and the head of the Mining Association's Gold Committee Carlos Galvez.) Other AP photos get Gorby with JQuijandria, AToledo. Reuters has photographs of MGorbachev and the President.

More Mining: Dow Jones reports that "Peru has set a base price for the Las Bambas copper project at $40 million with a minimum 2% royalty on sales," according to ProInversion.

Berenson Wants Out The Associated Press reviews Lori Berernson's case before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in Costa Rica where her mother, Rhoda Berenson "charged that the Peruvian judicial system permitted human rights violations. She also argued there was bias against her daughter that prevented a fair trial." Berenson has "more than a decade remaining on her sentence." The radio program Democracy Now runs an interview with Berenson's father Mark. (See here to here the program.) The Associated Press runs several photos related to the trial including those of USA Embassy staff in Costa Rica Nicholas Manning and Silvia Cabezas speaking with Rhonda Berenson. There are also several photos of Mr. Berenson as well as the parents together. There is a curious photograph of Mr. Berenson taking photographs of the Peruvian lawyers. The Miami Herald ran a short version of the Associated Press story.

De Soto Prized, cont.:The Las Vegas Review Journal ran an editorial this morning pegged on the Associated Press' reporting of Hernando de Soto's acceptance of the Milton Friedman Prize for Advancing Liberty. Says the Review Journal: "The Associated Press commented that de Soto "is a rarity among economists: a champion of both capitalism and the rights of the impoverished masses." ... The AP writer is a victim of a common misunderstanding -- that those who champion capitalism favor only the interests of "the greedy rich," while anyone who feels compassion and sympathy for the poor must surely understand the necessity of sending men with guns to the homes of the rich, there to seize some quantity of their stuff and redistribute it to the poor. ... If it seems unusual to today's Americans to find a learned economist who understands this, then perhaps we need to ask why so many of America's economists (both in our political capitals and on our college campuses) still embrace a mid-20th century redistributive economic model that had already proved a dismal and deadly failure by the time of the deaths of its greatest champions: Lenin, Hitler, Stalin and Mao." The Associated Press catches de Soto shaking hands with Milton Friedman at the award ceremony last Thursday. A separate photograph has de Soto in black tie with Fareed Zakaria.

WRGrace Turns 150: According to a company press release, W. R. Grace & Co. is celebrating their 150th Anniversary. "William Russell Grace, an Irish emigrant to Peru, founded the company that bears his name in 1854 when he took over operations of a ship chandler's business, selling supplies to ships engaged in Peru's guano and nitrates trade. Over the next few decades and through the first half of the 20th Century, Grace became one of the world's largest shipping companies, not only owning the ships but frequently having a stake in the cargo as well. While freight was the company's bread and butter, The Grace Line of passenger ships became the company's calling card."

Backus Deal Worth US$1/4 Billion: Reuters reports that Union de Cervecerias Backus & Johnston "has proposed a swap of its investment shares and B-class shares for a new class of non-voting preference shares in a deal worth up to $244 million."

Saving Water, cont.:The BBC and London's Independent catch up with the water rationing in Lima, "after one of the worst droughts to hit Peru in a decade." Details: Sedapal's president, Jorge Villacorta, said "water levels in the high altitude reservoirs had fallen to 165 million cubic metres, 120 million less than in a normal year." Water is presently cut off between 5am and 5pm everyday. Said Villacorta: "People in Lima use twice as much water as the World Health Organisation deems necessary for personal use. People need to lose less and leak less water in their houses." (See 'Saving Water' in April 30's Peruvia.

Health Workers Bleed: The Associated Press runs a photoraph of "Peruvian health workers bleed during a protest in front of the International Labour Organization building in Lima." They are shown cutting their arms with needles during the protest demanding higher salaries.

LHorna Wins in Hamburg: The ic Network notes that Luis Horna beat Arnaud Clement of France was a 6-2 6-3 victor against in the Tennis Masters series in Hamburg.

Architectural Designs for MPicchu: Architectum had been running an architectural "contest of ideas" through the construction of a hostel in Machu Picchu that would "celebrate" the natural scenario more than "distract" with its own facilities. Second prize, according to Virginia's The Winchester Star went to two students, one of whom had never been to MPicchu. First prize went to a five-member design team from Peru.

Dinner on Huascarán Bested: The Scotsman tells of a record being broken: "Six Britons have completed their bid for a new world record for the highest altitude formal dinner. The team carried tables, chairs, silver cutlery and a five-course meal to the summit of the 7,045m (23,113ft) Lhakpa Ri mountain in Tibet. But hurricane-strength winds forced the team to descend to a more sheltered point at 6,805m (22,326ft) to hold the formal dinner." The current record, set in June 1989, is held by an Australian team who dined at 6,768m (22,204ft) on Mount Huascarán in Peru.

Wedded Bliss: The New York Times noted yesterday that Olga Gomer and Jose Manuel Hernendez "were married last evening by Rabbi Anthony D. Holz at the Harbour Club in Charleston, S.C. "Mr. Hernandez, 27, is an associate specializing in mergers and acquisitions in Latin American investment banking at J. P. Morgan Chase in New York. He graduated from Harvard. His parents, Mr. and Mrs. Jose Manuel Hernandez, live in Lima, Peru, where the bridegroom's father is an owner of ATA, a civil and agricultural engineering consulting firm."

MMarceau in Lima: Reuters has photographs of French mime Marcel Marceau, 80, performing in Lima.

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