Friday, May 28, 2004

Toledo Stays in Peru Because of Strikes: Reuters reports that President Toledo "would skip a summit of European and Latin American leaders in Mexico and instead remain at home 'to keep order' after a wave of protests and strikes." In his stead, Foreign Minister Manuel Rodriguez Cuadros would attend the summit in Guadalajara, "at which delegates are expected to call for more cooperation in resolving crises and fighting terrorism, and more trade between Latin America and the European Union." The article notes that "hundreds of noisy construction workers carrying sticks and batons marched on Congress in Lima to call for better working conditions and higher salaries." In addition, Cusco was "paralyzed by a one-day anti-government strike and Peru Rail, which runs trains between the city and the Inca tourist mecca Machu Picchu, said it had suspended services 'as a security measure.' " Reuters also runs a group photograph in Mexico that includes Rodriguez Cuadros.

Airport/Seaport Strike: Bloomberg reports that "Peru's airports face a three-day shutdown next week as air traffic controllers and others workers prepare to strike against government plans to let private companies run the country's regional airports." The possible strike involves about 1,120 workers at regional airports and controllers at Lima's airport. Jose Luis Mesones, the leader of airport workers' union, says "the concessions will lead to job losses" and that "no commercial planes will fly in Peru during the strike." Jose Ortiz, the Minister of Transport and Communications said to RPP radio, "There is no way a standstill will happen. We will ask the Air Force and the Navy for help." In addition, "1,200 dockworkers of the Callao port, Peru's biggest port, will go on strike on Monday to support the airport workers and to oppose the concession of the port." Also mentioned: the demonstrations in Ilave and the road blockades by coca growers in Tingo Maria.

Postal Workers Post-Strike: The Union Network claims that "workers of Empresa Servicios Postales del PerĂº (SERPOST), grouped within the National Union of Postal Services Workers (SINATS), have been subjected to tough labor policies that violate their rights." The article details the May 14 24-hour strike "with the participation of 90% of the national workforce, and ended with a mass march through the streets of Lima," and includes the resulting negotiations with management.

Mining Costs: Reuters uses an interview with Jose Miguel Morales, head of the private National Society for Mining, Petroleum and Energy, to report on the mining industry's concern over the impending congressional mining tax. The headline shows the angle: "Peru seen losing out to Chile over mine royalties." Says Morales, "Peru aims to challenge Chile by doubling mining exports in 10 years, but its wings will be clipped if Congress approves a bill to slap royalties on the economy's main moneyspinner." The article does a good job of supporting the mining industry's interest as Congress still is unable to come to a consensus. After a patriotic argument ("We're playing into the hands of the Chileans," is another quote), the article predicts economic doom with a subheader, "Bye-Bye Bambas?" based on the suggestion of Morales that "Las Bambas, which is the most profitable project of them all, looks pretty marginal with royalties. If there had been a 3 percent royalty on Antamina, the investment wouldn't have gone ahead." The article waits until the end of the article to report that "The only big miner that would have to pay royalties is Southern Peru Copper Corp., one of the world's top 10 copper companies. Unlike its peers, it does not have a tax stability deal locking in its tax rate for years."

FLombardi Wins Prize In NYC: The Human Rights Watch International Film Festival will present it annual 'Irene Diamond Lifetime Achievement Award' to Peruvian filmmaker Francisco Lombardi in recognition of his 'lifelong commitment to human rights filmmaking.' The director's latest film, 'What the Eye Doesn't See,' a fictitious five-story film set against the collapse of former controversial Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori's fall from power will open the festival the following night." (See page 9 of the Film Festival's program.) The films New York City premiere will be on June 11 at 8:30pm.

Universitario Players Banned: Reuters reports that "four Universitario players have received bans of up to four months after a first division match against Cienciano at the weekend where they had five men sent off and match officials and opponents were attacked," according to the Peruvian Football League. Midfielder Gregorio Bernales, "who was not among the players sent off, had been banned for five months for assaulting a match official at the end of the game."

Petrol Prices Keep Rising: Reuters reports that Peru "launched a tax-cutting plan to stop high world oil prices from further pushing up local fuel prices, according to the Minister of Energy and Mines Minister Jaime Quijandria. In the last week, "fuel prices in Peru have risen an estimated 5%."

Peruvian 'Big Cola' in Mexico: Spanish news agency EFE reports that "Peru's Grupo Aje, the maker of Big Cola soft drinks, has announced plans to open a second plant in Mexico in a bid to double its current market share of 5% by 2009," according to Roy Morris, administration and finance chief of Ajemex, Grupo Aje's Mexican unit. "The new plant will built in northern Mexico at a cost of more than $10 million would have the capacity to produce 300 million liters per year."

Miss Peru in Ecuador: The Associated Press has a photograph that includes Liesel Holler who is representing Peru in the Miss Universe proceedings in Quito.

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