Monday, June 14, 2004

Lan Peru on the Rise: Lan Peru announced in a press release "five new routes, including expanded service to Argentina, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela and Mexico. Now, the company operates to seven cities within Peru and 11 international destinations, offering the best option for passengers traveling to and from Peru, as well as efficient connections throughout the region." According to Vlamir Domic, Lan Peru's CEO, "This project would not be possible without the effort of the more than 900 Peruvian workers who ensure the success of our national and international operations."

Lima is #118: Mercer Human Resource Consulting released their Global Cost-of-Living Survey which places Lima as "the most expensive city in Latin America," but comes in number 118 over all compared to cities worldwide.

Peru Stands Out, cont.: The International Herald Tribune reprints the New York Times editorial 'The Pentagon Looks South.' For the original editorial, see ‘Peru Stands Out’ in June 5’s Peruvia.

National Reserves Grow: Dow Jones reports that "Peru's net international reserves totaled $11.067 billion on June 8, up $244 million from the end of May," according to the Central Reserve Bank of Peru. "The increase was due to increased deposits in the financial system, which posted a rise of $211 million, and in public sector deposits, which increased by $35 million."

AWatson Part of Declaration: The Los Angeles Times notes that former USA Ambassador to Peru Alexander F. Watson is one of the "Diplomats and Military Commanders for Change, a group of 26 former senior diplomats and military officials, several appointed to key positions by Republican Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, [who] plan to issue a joint statement this week arguing that President George W. Bush has damaged America's national security and should be defeated in November." See Also: This Press Club press release and the Washington DC-based Press Club calendar announcing the event on June 16.

Canadian Communist has Peruvian Roots: Yesterday's Edmonton Journal profiled Communist Party of Canada leader, Miguel Figueroa, who was "born in Montreal to a Peruvian aeronautical engineer father and 'fervent Canadian nationalist' mother."

Robbers Aborted: The International Maritime Bureau reports that on June 4 at 9:15pm, at the "Salaverry anchorage, four robbers attempted to board a general cargo ship via anchor chain. Alert crew spotted them and raised alarm. Robbers aborted attempt and fled in a boat."

Posh in Peru, cont.: The BBC catches up with the tabloids and includes a bit on Posh in Peru (third article down.) "Pop star Victoria Beckham has been visiting disadvantaged communities in Peru, as part of three-day trip filmed for a BBC Sport Relief documentary." See yesterday’s ‘Posh in Peru’ for a rundown of the tab coverage.

Feather with the Nahua: A blog called The Feature reviews Conrad Feather’s work with the Nahua. See also: ‘Enviro Prize with Nahuas’ in May 15’s Peruvia.

On June 6, (last item) Peruvia published an editorial responding to a Council of Hemispheric Affair's press release titled, 'President Toledo's Trophy Prisoner,' written by COHA Research Associate Abigail Jones. (It was also posted on Counter Punch.) What follows is a response by Ms. Jones to Peruvia's editorial.

To the Editor: Let me respond to the Peruvia editorial posted on June 6, 2004, in which the author broadly addresses the points that were raised in my Council on Hemispheric Affairs memorandum, "Whatever Happened to Lori Berenson, President Toledo's Trophy Prisoner?" This piece was released on June 7, and was subsequently posted on Counter Punch's estimable website.

In its editorial, Peruvia repeatedly fails to engage my central thesis, and, almost to the point of embarrassment, proudly embraces some of the most sordid personalities and institutions in Peru's national life. Also, by seeming to enthusiastically support several of its recent presidents, whose moral content has plunged to rock-bottom levels as viewed by the country's public, Peruvia reveals its right-wing credentials as well as, sadly enough, its irrelevance.

What the editorial does do is present its writer's own political agenda which is far less muted than mine. Peruvia's obvious political baggage becomes the propellant for the publication's counter attack as it even leaps to the defense of the whole apparatus in Lima that has taken sadistic joy in persecuting U.S. national Lori Berenson on trumped up charges of sedition. Peru's hooded judges—a notorious phenomenon whereby retired military officers without a day of legal training and wearing hoods to conceal their identity, would hand down a guilty verdict 97 percent of the time without due process or the right to introduce evidence or even have one's lawyer present in the courtroom. This practice was condemned by credible international barristers, distinguished judges, law journals, bar associations and human rights authorities, but somehow is warmly received by Peruvia's editorial writer.

As for Peru's leaders, does the editorial writer mean to suggest that the last two Peruvian presidents are authentic democratic figures? Fujimori is, at the very least, responsible for the murder of thousands of indigenous living throughout the altiplano. For his part, President Toledo has alienated himself from 90 percent of the country's electorate as he mockingly carries on a charade of justice in the Berenson case, while his administration stumbles from one scandal to another beating its chest over its toughness on Berenson.

Alas for Peruvia and Perú, Toledo's approval rating has plunged to a record low of six percent. This hardly indicates that the citizenry condones his seriously flawed presidency. As for Ferrero Costa, Peru's ambassador to the U.S., his mendacious nature was audaciously revealed in his pathetic videotaped exchange with Fujimori's notorious Rasputin, Vladimir Montesinos, discussing how to block any international pressure to release Lori Berenson. It could be argued that such an odious quality made the ambassador a slam-dunk choice for his new Washington position.

In the Berenson case, we are thus left with an egregious miscarriage of justice that has been committed by the badly tarnished Peruvian criminal justice system. This editorial blithely chooses to ignore this injustice and bury it under a hecatomb of indifferent distractions. Peruvia's obfuscations are little better than an irresponsible and shortsighted sortie in blind defense of an obviously indefensible position. While I am in accordance with the editorial's view that the U.S. also stands in violation of the American Convention on Human Rights, its criticism on these grounds has no bearing, for my memorandum was clearly not written in defense of Washington's very tarnished human rights record, but was based, to a very large extent, on its espousing scapegrace values that appear to be very close to the heart of Peruvia's editorial writer.


Abigail Jones
Research Associate, Council on Hemispheric Affairs

Peruvia Responds Again: To suggest that we "embrace[d] some of the most sordid personalities and institutions in Peru's national life," is a canard. In our public and private lives, we have battled the criminal actions of the Fujimori government and the malfeasance of the Toledo government. However, no amount of finger-pointing their way will ever explain or excuse Lori Berenson's case. Clamoring about the foibles and follies of others can only be put into the context of demonstrating that Lori Berenson is indeed innocent. And this, Ms. Jones did not do in her essay. Most Peruvians have seared in their memories Ms. Berenson defending her revolution at full volume before the Peruvian magistrate and the camera. (See the video with Berenson's parents explanations here.) To challenge what ever happened to Lori Berenson, one must review the charges, her actions, and her intents and not just point at the errors of others.

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