Sunday, May 30, 2004

Vidalias: The Peruvian Connection? The Atlanta Journal-Constitution runs an article on the impact of globalization on Geogria including onion farmers. Delbert Bland is one such farmer and he suggests that since 1994, he has been working with Peruvian farmers because "[t]he taste and quality of the onions grown in Peru surpassed expectations." The 45 farmers he contracts with there, however, use his vidalia onion seeds. And then there is this: last year "an unusual virus — possibly imported from Peru — threaten[ed Bland's] fields. Less than 10 percent of this year's crop was lost, less than normal, which can be attributed to bad weather as much as disease. Still, there's talk of spraying Peruvian fields or fumigating imported onions. 'They've got some problems in Peru,' says Georgia Agriculture Commissioner Tommy Irvin. "We don't want their problems.' " (Peruvia readers may remember Delbert Bland. See 'Onions Burned' in February 9's Peruvia which includes him in a front-page story in the Washington Post.)

PERUVIA EDITORIAL: The publishers of Peruvia are not agronimists but there are some journalistic questions that do arise with these onion stories. The WPost, the AJC, and the Associated Press have all linked Peru as a possible link to a possible virus affecting USA onions but the link is far from clear. The articles quote experts who acknowledge there is a problem but do not conclusively point to Peruvian crops. Yet each story points toward Peru as the culprit for the "mysterious disease." (WP: "the mystery thrips discovered in the Vidalia area this year may have hitched rides to the United States in loads of onions from Peru." AJC: "an unusual virus — possibly imported from Peru — threatening their fields." AP: "Peruvian onions have tested positive for both tomato spotted wilt and iris yellow spot virus, but no one is sure that either of those has caused the upsurge of leaf damage.") These three reporters placed too prominently a possible Peruvian connection to these onions without enough proof. There could very well be a connection to Peru. (From the reporting offered, it may be that USA seed infected Peruvian crops.) However, all of these articles have inferred a Peruvian connection before offering the proper, firm evidence. (UPDATE: A Peruvia reader sends along a quote from the source the AP uses who declares that "the [Georgia] onions today look totally different from what they did two months ago. I never expected this crop to look this good at this point after looking as poorly as it looked this winter.")

Massacre from 1980s Uncovered: The Associated Press reports that "authorities have unearthed the bullet-ridden remains of 15 peasants murdered by soldiers after the lone survivor of the massacre came forward following two decades of silence." (The Los Angeles Times and the Washington Post use abbreviated versions of this story in their print editions today.) The discovery was made near Totos, Ayacucho according to chief forensic investigator Luis Castillejo who said the massacre occured near a military post on May 28, 1983. The survivor's identity is being withheld.

Poverty Still Exists in Southern Peru: The Miami Herald reports ostensibly about the 'Plan for Peace and Development,' Toledo's anti-poverty program "which is supposed to spend $800 million by 2006," in several departments. However, the reporting is principally from Pampa Cangallo, a village of 8,000 in Ayacucho. Quotes come from Gastón Garatea Yori, "a well-known antipoverty activist," who is a Catholic priest and President of the Consensus Building Forum for the Fight Against Poverty; Luis Thais, president of the Peru’s National Council for Decentralization; and Isabel Dolores Corál Cordero, "a senior government official who travels frequently in the zone." (She is the president of the Centro de Promoción y Desarrollo Poblacional.) Omar Quesada, the president of Ayacucho state, and who was featured in last week in the Miami Herald, also gets another quote as do Pampa Cangallo's Mayor Oscar Tineo and school Norberto Tenorio. To broaden its scope beyond Ayacucho, the article fits in quotes by Luis Barra, president of Apurimac state and ends by quoting Manuel Duarte, president of Junín region: "We're convinced that where the state has a presence and does good works, terrorism withers away. Terrorism thrives in areas of extreme poverty."

USA Copters to Pakistan Not to Peru: Hi Pakistan reports that three of five Huey-II helicopters the USA government was set to sell to Peru were sent instead to Pakistan who wanted them urgently to "enhance the border security, counter narcotics and other operations on the western border."

Pacific War Excercise: Hawaii's Star-Bulletin reports that "the 19th in the series of Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) maritime [miliary] exercise will run from June 29 through July 27 and will involve eight nations" including Peru, Australia, Canada, Chile, Japan, the Republic of Korea, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Sonia #1!: The Honolulu Advertiser reports on Sofia Mulanovich victory in the Roxy Pro France in 6- to 8-foot surf at La Madrague Beach. This is Mulanovich's third straight victory in a World Championship Tour surfing event. Australia's The Age calls Mulanovich "the pocket rocket from Peru" who "won the decider by a measly 7.6 points to 3.8 because both women kept getting pounded by sets, preventing them from reaching the takeoff zone until halfway through the 30-minute final." Said the champion Peruvia surfer, "I got so many sets on the head it was ridiculous." Also: Australia's Western Advocate puts it this way: "the little Peruvian dynamo Sofia Mulanovich took another gigantic step towards this year's world surfing title by winning the Roxy Pro France." Next Up: Florianópolis, Brasil in late September.(See also 'SMulanovich Champion!' in April 24's Peruvia.)

Peru vs. Uruguay on June 1: Reuters shows several photographs of Team Peru arriving in Montivideo for the World Cup Qualifying match on June 1. Players photographed include Roberto Palacios, Norberto Solano, and coach Paulo Autuori. The Associated Press also offers one of Nobby.

Titcaca Travel: The Washington Post's Travel section fronts an article on travelling to Titicaca by Ormeno bus [sic], an 18-ride from Arequipa, after the writer has "traveled across two continents." WPost Travel reporter Gary Lee arrives in Puno for a transcental, mythical experience. ("The waters had given rise to no less than the creator god Viracocha, by their account. Manco Capac and Mama Ocllo, the mythical founders of the Incan empire, were also said to have risen from the lake. Did that sacred spirit linger here? I had come to find out.") While the article states that "many visitors devote only a couple of days to the lake," the writer and his travelling companion has decided on a "five-day stay ... just enough time to begin to grasp the history and depth of the place." Travel was done in January so while they avoided Bolivia and the strikes there, travel was relatively unimpeded in Peru though they did make it Copacabana, on the Bolivian side of the lake. Also included: Challapampa, "one of the small port towns along the coast of Isla del Sol." And the floating islands of the Uros and the island of Taquile.

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