Monday, May 24, 2004

[Peruvia Readers: Thank you for all your kind emails of concern during this last week when there were no posts. We intend to resume our daily posting shortly. During this brief interregnum, some postings on news on Peru in English newspapers will be summarized.]

Mayor Lynched, cont: The Los Angeles Times' is the first of the major US newspapers to report from Ilave with Héctor Tobar on the scene declaring that "it's hard to find anyone in this town who regrets the killing [of Mayor Robles]. But in the rest of Peru, there has been widespread revulsion and horror since the broadcast of videotaped scenes of the bloodied Robles being pummeled and paraded through town." The article suggests that La Republica reporter Cristhian Ticona witnessed the attack and includes the dying mayor's last words spoken "into a microphone placed before his lips: "I ask the forgiveness of the people." The article gets several on the ground quotes from Rosa Marta Mamani, a peasant leader; Edgar Larijo, a village leader; and police Gen. Luis Vizcarra Giron. Also quoted: television commentator Cesar Hildebrandt. This is the first news piece in English that includes a mention of David Inchuta, a young village leader who was "opposed to Mayor [Roble's] rule, [and who] was stabbed to death a few days before the mayor was lynched. Inchuta had tied a dead rat to a poster attacking the mayor."

Sally Bowen Accused: The Miami Herald runs an Associated Press piece on a judge's order that British journalist Sally Bowen "remain in Peru ahead of a libel trial" as a result of accusations by Fernando Zevallos. Her most recent book 'The Imperfect Spy: The Many Lives of Vladimiro Montesinos,' "cited an imprisoned drug runner - a former informant for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration - as saying that Fernando Zevallos, founder of Aero Continente airlines, was a leading Peruvian drug trafficker." See a slightly different version of this story in the Scotsman.

Free Trade? The Miami Herald ran an Associated Press story on Wednesday on the free trade negotiations Peru, Colombia, and Ecuador are undertaking with the United States presently in Cartagena. "The three Andean nations already enjoy tariff-free access to the U.S. market on hundreds of their products, including garments and cut flowers, through an accord to help countries on the front lines of the war against drugs. But with that deal set to expire in 2006, the countries hope to lock in a permanent agreement." The article cites Michael Shifter (Inter-American Dialogue) declaring that "any progress made over the next eight months could be lost if Bush is ousted in November." The Miami Herald followed up with another Associated Press piece on Friday saying that "negotiators set Atlanta as the site for the next round of talks, in mid-June" and that "a deal is expected to be inked by February 2005." Today, the Orlando Sentinel publishes an op-ed by Professor Terry L. McCoy who states that the trade talks between the United States and Peru "should be cause for celebration. Instead, the visitor finds this country on the Pacific coast of South America mired in self-doubt." McCoy believes that the "Peruvian angst is in large part a product of a chronically unsettled political situation" and reviews the last 20 years of presidential political history. "As long as Peruvians continue to struggle with a dysfunctional political arrangement, their country remains at risk. And the fact that once-reviled former presidents Garcia and Fujimori are today the most popular political figures in public-opinion polls underlines that serious political reform is not in the cards."

Bush Connection to Camisea: The Washington Post recently noted that 37-year-old Jose Fourquet the USA's representative before the InterAmerican Development Bank, is among the "Bush Pioneers," those who agree to raise a minimum of $100,000 each for the Bush campaign. [Technically, he is the US Treasury Department's representative at the IDB.] The article delves into Fourquet's relationship with the Camisea gas project. "Fourquet played a pivotal role in the financing of a massive Peruvian natural gas project that benefited Hunt Oil Co., whose chairman, Ray L. Hunt, signed up to be a Pioneer and is a longtime ally of the president. The Camisea Natural Gas Project is set to extract fossil fuel from one of the world's most pristine tropical rain forests and pipe it over the Andes toward Lima and the coast, where it will end up at a depot near a marine sanctuary. Hunt is one of several participants in the project. His company hired Halliburton's Kellogg Brown & Root to design a $1 billion export terminal on the coast." It was Fourquet who abstained on the $135 million financing for the project, allowing it to proceed. "Opposition from the United States, a primary funder of the IDB bank, would have jeopardized the deal." The U.S. Agency for International Development had told Fourquet to cast a "no" vote because "environmental reviews were deficient. In addition, others on a federal interagency task force urged opposition."

Sofia is #1: The Los Angeles Times also lets its readers know about the recent successes of "20-year-old Peruvian Sofia Mulanovich [who] took the title for the Billabong Girls Pro held at Teahupoo in perfect 2- to 4-foot surf. Mulanovich also won the event before this, the Roxy Pro in Fiji, with some explosive surfing, moving her up to second in the world standings."

Other Stories: The Los Angeles Times also included this in a story on Mexico: "Demonstrations are nothing new in Latin America, a region of turbulent democracies and fragile economies. The capitals of Venezuela, Bolivia and Peru were recently rocked by noisy protests directed at alleged government misdeeds." And the LATimes did run Reuters story on the discover of "a well-preserved graveyard possibly a thousand years old has been discovered at an archeological complex of Incan and pre-Incan temples on the outskirts of Lima."

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